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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

{ n o v e l : t h e s e q u e l }

Hello, from windy Purdue.

A lot has happened in the last two weeks so here's the lowdown:

[ t r e e h u g g i n g  t o  a n  e x t r e m e ]

Remember the fun swing in the trees?
Well, we thought it would be a great idea to take our whole zone there for P-Day, and you know, bond.

Little did I know that this sentence I received from my Mom when she found out about the swing the first time, would end up being prophecy: "(sister) PEEKY!!! Did you see how many times you almost hit that huge tree?  Don't you know how often trees KILL people?  That was not fun!!"

Long story short, I was trying to do this little trick and I lost my balance (did I take ballet all throughout high school? I mean... yeah. Never said I was good.) and ended up careening (still on the swing) towards this massive tree.
Luckily, there was an Elder close to it and he quickly jumped in between me and the tree so that I would crash into him instead of the tree.
Bless you, sir.
We're both totally fine!
Probs will never swing again though.
That stuff's dangerous, kidz. Stay outta the parks. 
In the chaos of it all, three other Elders came running to the rescue to catch me when I came hurtling back again.
Hahahaha, guys.
Did I not say that we would bond at this zone activity?? lol.

[ p l e a s e  d o n ' t  r u n ]

It's just painful.
For everybody involved.

We volunteered for this charity run last week and we were pumped about it.
You mean, you WANT me to fulfill my childhood dream of a cheerleader and scream encouragement at people as they run by me?
Uh, yes.

It started raining.
Pouring rain.
Pouring, frigid, sad, sad, rain.

Cheerleader dream: been there, done that. Not doin it again.

[ f i n a l s  w e e k ]

Literally NO ONE is on campus.
Well, that's a lie.

You know those cute little ads to promote children's health? "Kids, even superheroes eat their vegetables!" I feel like this could be the new headline to promote child development: "Even Spider-Man goes to school!" 
#purdue #boilerup

But all the students are leaving for Summer.
Including our favorite members...
Namely, Emma.

baby come back to meeeeee

Buuuuut we've been meeting a lot with all of our investigators before they leave for the Summer.

One of which is...

[ s a m u e l ] 

Did he come to church last week for the first time?
Yep. (yay)
Did literally evvveeerrryyyy point of doctrine get brought up?
Yep. (noooooo)

Sacrament meeting:
First speaker: "Sooooo the word of wisdom is basically the greatest thaang evvvaaaa."
Second speaker: "The organization of the church is like this..." *spouts off general authorities* *talks about every organization within the church*
Third speaker: "You become what you spend your time doing! Don't get sucked into social media! You are what you watch!"
Member sitting in front of us: "I AM Michael Scott!"

Gospel Principles:
Teacher: "Today we're talking about the signs of the second coming! What do we know about it? Let's all just talk about our opinions and the philosophy of it all!!!"
*looks over at Sam*
*reading the entire lesson on the law of chastity*
*continues crying*

Combined third hour: 
First speaker: "Does your dad have the priesthood?! Ask for a priesthood blessing! By the laying on of haaaaanddsssss!!! PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGSSSSSSS!!!"
Second speaker: "I'm honored to talk about my favorite subject today: THE TEMPLE!!"
Me: *stands up* "SO LIKE. KOLOB ANYONE??!? Because why not!!!?"

Did you think it ended there?

Lunch afterwards:
Counselor from the bishopric: "Sooooo Samuel. You're been meeting with the sisters for a while now (literally 2 weeks, thanks) so like... WILL YOU BE BAPTIZED???"
Is... Is this a joke.

But the greatest miracle of all happened with Sam this week.
We had a lesson with him preeeeettyyy promptly after that Sunday fiasco.
We were discussing how he feels about just evvveerrything and we basically did a mini testimony meeting with him.
Guys, THE SPIRIT. It was so strooooong.
He started talking about how he gets this feeling whenever he's at church and when he talks with us. He described it as peace, love, happiness and also a "sense of harmony."
And then the coolest thing happened:
He said, "Sister Soloa'i, one day, you were wearing this white dress and I remember thinking you looked just like my Grandma and when you talked I thought it was her. I actually started tearing up. I feel like she's trying to tell me that this is where I need to be."
Sister Alexander then bore probably the best/powerful testimony I've ever heard her give.

It was such a testament to me that yes, the gospel is beautifully true, but also, it completely unites families even beyond the grave. There are people who care just as much about the progression of the gospel on the other side as the people do here. When both sides work together, miracles DO happen.

[ w h i t e  r i v e r  4  l y f e ]

Happily, Sister Alexander and I made a trip to White River (our first area).
Sadly, for a funeral of someone we really, truly love.

Sister Lyons, WE LOVE YOU.

While we were there, we took the opportunity to stop by our old little home

And visit our favorite homies

Can you believe a year ago yesterday that main man, Timothy, got baptized?? Also, Fluffy died. So we had to improvise. May the cottonball, rest in peace.

Every time I'm in White River, I just feel SO at home and feel the love of my Savior so strong. I came to know Him as my friend while serving there and I'm so grateful for every day since of furthering our friendship.

I promise you, He lives.

[ s & a ]

at it again for the last transfer.

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

Monday, April 24, 2017

{ the church is true, the book is blue }

"The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated." - President Thomas S. Monson

I cannot even begin to tell you how true this is.

And the promised blessings of this from our Prophet as we read it: "We will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives"
Those promises were definitely fulfilled this week.

But first, a little opposition:

No, I'm not talking about that car full of sorority girls who cut us off in the institute parking lot and stole our spot.
We ended up turning our annoyance into positivity and a chance to share the gospel.

I'm talking about Samuel.
Remember Miracle Sam? Phone call right after his Grandma died, Samuel?
We met with him again.
It didn't go well.
At all.
We had started teaching the Plan of Salvation since we figured it probs fit since his Grandma has recently passed away, right?
He had a huuuuuuge issue with it the second time we met with him.
So much so, he said as he left, "That was very interesting, I'll have to ask my Pastor about it."
Okay bye! See you never!

e. walton sums up our feelings perfectly in that moment: why. sam, why?

Can honestly say, it was my worst lesson on my mission.
At one point during the lesson...
Member we brought with us: "So like... outer darkness..."
Me: *gets up from chair* *walks out door* *walks out of Indiana* *walks out of life*

After Samuel, we had to book it from the institute building to the stake center for another lesson. We literally had 2 minutes to call out to the elders on the way out, "THAT WAS TRASH!" before we had to go to...

We met Kevin at this creepy, ghetto, auto-repair shop when we were there getting our Tiwi system installed in our car.
Kevin's the sweetest. We LOVE him.
He owns the shop and I guess has been working with the church for years, going around and installing all the Tiwis in the mission cars.
Well we got to talkin.
Taught him about the restoration of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ.
Gave him a Book of Mormon.
Set up a teaching appointment.
Him: "Elder Summers has been trying to get me to go to church for years. I'll have to call him and tell him. He'll be so excited."
Well, WE were!
Honestly, you guys. THE best lesson I've ever had on my mission.
Funny how that works, huh?
We taught only about The Book of Mormon and tried this new way of teaching it that Brother Donaldson from the Worldwide Mission Board had shown us when he visited our mission a couple of months ago.
I know that nothing and nobody's perfect (you just gotta work it lol)
That lesson was perfect.
Best part?
Closing prayer by the member: "Please bless that the sisters won't get any more aggressive drivings or check your speeds."
Did our Tiwi break and we've been free ever since?
Why yes, the Lord DOES answer prayers.

Fast forward to Samuel later this week.
We figured, you know, we haven't even taught about the restoration yet, but we gonna try this whole Book of Mormon thing as our dying attempt with Samuel.
So we (miraculously) set up another appointment with him and taught all about The Book of Mormon.
Best. Lesson. Ever. (well, close second)
At the end, Samuel goes: "I was really contemplating not meeting with you guys again. But I'm excited about this!"
*angels sing*

Us at the end of this blessed week:

It really has been an amazing week. The flowers are still out and Purdue campus is still
G O R G E O U S:

And to top off the week, we went to an activity with the ward this weekend at a member's house.
They have a swing.
Not an ordinary swing.
But a massive swing that's incredibly high and shoots you through the forest behind their house.
Ohmygosh I had to.
Skirt and all.

melon face, happy face.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time to see more of

Sis A and Sis S

Sincerely, Sister Soloa'i

P.S. happy 14 months!

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