Monday, February 22, 2010

Return and Report

Hello Family,
This week has been an amazing week! Everyweek is an amazing week here in Steilacoom. We were able to teach Jakki and set her baptism date! She'll be baptized on March 7th. The ward is so amazing at being involved in the work. This last Saturday was really neat. The stake put on a huge youth mission prep course for the priests and laurels that lasted half the day and my zone and comp and I helped out with teaching and then we took all of them on splits. The elders had no problem but their were 12 laurels and just me and my comp. We sent half of them to the sisters in Puyallup and then I took three out and Sis. Jang took three and we went tracting. It was a really good experience. Its good for me to go out with them because then I'm forced to take the lead when I normally let Sis. Jang. I'm learning so much. She is an amazing person to learn from. Not to mention she is getting me to eat all sorts of Korean food! I eat Korean food more than anything. Alyse Marchant is going to be just fine in Korea, the food is delicious, other than Kimchi, that stuff is nasty. But everything else I've tried is amazing, especially Bulgogi! Sis. Jang and I are also teaching a man who we just call Mr. Obrien, I don't even know his first name. His wife is Hawaiian and been a member all her life. He's moving slow, but I really think he's starting to warm up to us. I don't think previous missionaries have really tried with him. There are actually three people in the ward (elderly couples) where one spouse is a member and one is not. We're really working hard with all of them. Thats been something I didn't really expect. Its hard! People don't just believe you after you testify. I don't know why I thought they would. The change is slow and steady, but it is a miracle when you look from the begining to the end and do see the change. Everyday I have at least one moment where I say "this is why I came on a mission" I want to say that everyday until I leave Washington. I also had my first return and report. Which is where we get together as a zone and Pres. Bowen comes and interviews us. I was slightly intimidated, sis. Jang said that I shouldn't be upset when all we talk about is numbers, but when I went in we didn't talk numbers at all. He asked me what I was doing in Steilacoom and then asked me if I've had the opportunity to teach all the lessons. I told him I still hadn't taught lessons four or five and he said that I needed to do that THIS week! Then he asked me if I was ready to train! I laughed out loud and he just looked at me completely serious. Pres. Criddlbaugh (a member of the mission presidency) is in our ward and I guess he's told pres. that we've been doing great things and we get five new sisters next transfer! So keep me in your prayers that I don't train on my second transfer. I'm still in training! I'd like to be in training my whole mission if possible. Today on P day our whole zone got together and played ultimate freesbe which was alot of fun. It was the pretties day I've seen in Washington. A cloudless day in the fifties and we played at a park right on the edge of the Puget Sound. Even though its not the ocean it smells like it and it makes me feel like I'm in California. I LOVE it! This place is more beautiful than I can ever say in words. It hasn't even rained in the last 3 days! Yesterday one of the laurels (Brooke) in the ward came up and said she had a friend that wanted to go to church and wanted to meet with us! I don't think I'd ever been so excited! I'm excited everyday, missionary work is just exciting work! Anyway, we are meeting with him this week and are giving him a church tour! I never realized how important the members are! I wish I had been a better member missionary at home, its so much easier if the members bring us the investigators than if we go out looking for them. I didn't understand how much easier it was until I got out here. My challenge to all of you is to find someone that you can invite over and have the missionaries come over and have them teach. Hartzells maybe... or someone, I don't know. I thought being a member missionary was hard until I came out here and realized being a member missionary is easy being a fulltime missionary is whats hard. Not too many doors are slammed in our face though. People are pretty nice, just not interested. Elder Zitati of the Seventy is coming next week and he is checking all of our area books, planners, appartments etc. We're really working hard to make sure that they are all looking good. We need to work harder on our finding. Its hard to find people that want to listen to us. But I know there out there! Pray that we can continue to find those people who are looking for us! I love you all! Please tell me how Ethans blessing goes. Give everyone a hug for me!
Love, Sister Bradley

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday Miracles

Dear Bradley Family and Friends,
I write you today in high spirits! I don't think I've ever experienced the joy I've felt in the last 48 hours ever in my life. Steilacoom is a wonderful place to be and the Lord is working miracles, even through me!
Because this was a new area for sisters, getting the ball rolling in the area was a bit rough, but the ball is definitly rolling and its snowballing. This week we had four investigators at church and five new investigators. And we have one on date to be baptised on March 7th!
I want to share a few miracles I've witnessed over the past few days.
Miracle 1: First I went on splits with one of the laurels in the ward (Brooke) who is 17. It was only my second time going on splits and my first time going with someone where I really had to take the lead. I was amazed at the peace and comfort the Lord gave us both as we went out. We went to go stop by a few less active young women when we ran into a couple getting out of their car. Swallowing all fear I ran up and introduced my self and asked a few questions and they said we could come visit tomorrow! The appointment with the young women went great and Brooke will make an amazing missionary in four years! But for now I'm so glad to take her on splits. The couple we met at the car (Gary and Debbie) are in a really tough spot it life. They are struggling pay check to pay check and Gary is having surgery this week. We met with them shared a little about what we believe and then set up to give them a church tour the next day ( right before a stake adult valentines party ) they came to both and had a wonderful time. We commited them to come to church but they said they would be attendin their church in Tacoma to get in touch with a few friends but that they would come the next week. Slightly discouraged we continued throughout the week.
Miracle 2: A young mom named Daniel just walked into the church a few days ago and asked to learn more about it. We set up a church tour where we found out she was learning more about us for a school report, but seemed earnest in wanting to learn more. She came to church on Sunday, it should be interesting to see if she wants to meet with us again after her report.
Miracle 3: On Sunday we walked into church nervous on who was actually going to be there. We were greated by Bro. Bishop ( a visitor) who introduced us to his fiance Jakki who shook our hands and then said "I want to be baptized" She is new to the area and has been looking for the true church for many years and when she met Bro. Bishop she knew she had found it. We gave her a church tour on Sunday night and her baptismal date is set for March 7th. We're so excited!
Miracle 4: As the sacrament prayers started, I was feeling pretty good having both Jakki and Daniel at church, but I cannot express to you the feelings of joy I had as Debbie and Gary (the couple I found with Brooke) walked into the chapel. They said they probably wouldn't be there and in missionary terms that means they definitely wont be there and then they were there! I feel so close to this sweet sweet couple because I found them! Gary has surgery this Thursday on his vocal chords so please keep him in your prayers. We will be committing them to baptism later this week hopefully.
I'm loving the work and I'm loving the people I'm serving and serving with. Its a wonderful time to be a missionary and am so grateful for this time I have to work hard. Always remember that it starts with the members! You have so much influence to bring others to come to Christ. Have confidence and be bold. I love you all.
Sister Bradley

Monday, February 8, 2010

First Week in Steilacoom

Hello Family!
*Steilacoom is the little city inside Lakewood kind of like Holladay is in Salt Lake, but Steilacoom is much much smaller than Holladay :) *
I feel like I have so much to tell you that I'll never be able to write it all down. We'll start with the most important things first. The days all blend together so its hard to remember. The week started out well, becuase neither Sis. Jang or I know the area we've been visiting a lot of less active and part member families this week. We are always tracting between five and seven pm everyday, thats a rule for the mission, but I don't mind it. Tracting isn't as scary as I thought it would be and for the most part people are very kind. We often skip lunch or dinner because we are out visiting people. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in church yesterday which was a great experience. I just testified a lot about love. One of the biggest things I've learned in the last week is that the Lord is aware of me and loves me. And he's allowed me to share that love with so many other people. The ward is AMAZING! They've never had sisters here before so they are so excited to have us and we are getting a lot of refferls which is wonderful because the Elders before us left us no teaching pool... and I mean no one. Its basically been like opening up a new area.
So far we've eaten at several members homes and they've all been very nice and the food has been great... until last night, a sweet Samoan family fed me raw fish in coconut milk.... I almost gaged there at the table. RAW FISH! I can barely eat cooked fish if I don't breathe when I chew. Thankfully they also had beef stirfry which was pretty good.
Are area is a pretty decent size and the church is right smack in the middle of our area, (only about a mile away from our appartment) which is convenient so we can offer investigators tours of the church, which we do OFTEN. On Wednesday we tracted into a middle aged man named Jesse Cantu, he was very kind and seemed really interested in learning more about the church. He and his wife are coming on a church tour on Wed and then we teach the first lesson there in the Relief Society room. My Companion and I are excited.
Then we found an old investigator who worked with the Elders about 6 months ago, her name is Kristen and she is 19. She is really shy but very sweet. She lives with her dad and I guess her dad didn't like 19 year old boys spending time with his daughters so he told her she couldn't take the lessons anymore, but now we're here and I think the dad is warming up to us. We gave her a church tour three days ago and commited her for baptism on the 21st after we taught her the first lesson. She was hessitent but she commited and said she would be at church yesterday. Unfortunately she texted us about 30 min. before church and told us she wasn't feeling well. That was hard, we were so excited for her. I think she's just scared, but hopefully she can overcome her fear. Keep her in your prayers.
Saturday was really rought. We spent the day in Dupont, which is about 8 miles away from Lakewood, but its still in our ward, you have to travel through the Fort Lewis Military base to get there, so its basically 8 miles of straight up forst. It reminds me of twilight. Dupont is this little picturesque? military neighborhood. It literally reminds me of the stepford wives neighborhood, its very very cute. There are several members there, but tracting there is rough because the people are fairly well off. We had a lot of doors slammed, but it really wasn't that bad. But saturday was rough because we stopped by a lot of less active families and NO ONE was home, it made us feel really unproductive which is always hard.
Yesterday (Sunday) was a day of miracles. I get a lot of anxiety in the mornings which always puts me on edge but it wears off by afternoon. Our investigator fell through on coming to church, we went to ward council, and PEC (priesthood exective commitee) where we talked a lot about what we needed to do, which was overwhelming, and I'm trying to remember names which is a struggle for some reason. I had a rough morning to say the least and then the Bishop asked us to bear our testimony in SM so I was feeling like a nervous reck, I ended up going to the bathroom and crying a little bit and then praying harder than I can ever remember. The Lord definitely heard my prayer because the rest of the day was amazing. (other than the raw fish ;)
So after dinner last night we wanted to swing by a few less active families and part member families that we didn't know. As we were looking for a girl named Ashley Barker we found her app. but we realized it was an appartment we tracked just a day earlier and the girl that answered the door literally slammed it shut in like 2 seconds, so we were nervous to knock on it a second time, but my companion being bold knocked before I could decide to run. The same girl opened the door, but this time we quickly asked if this was the Barker residents and she told us that Ashley had moved out back in October and that her name was McKayla (21 years old) we talked to her for a few minutes before she invited us in. We got to talking and she just unloaded on us. She had a child last year out of wedlock and then gave it up for adoption, she's been struggling but is strong in the presbyterian faith. She talked a long time, she needed someone to listen. After I pulled out the Book of Mormon and just knew what she needed. I shared Moroni 7:? not really sure of the number ( I don't know how I found it the Spirit definitely found it for me) It says "Perfect love casteth out all fear" We left her with a BOM and she was excited! She is reading 3 Nephi 11 and Moroni 10. She commited to pray and ask if it was true and is coming on a church tour tonight! She was definitely elect. I'm so excited to commit her for baptism for the 28th of this month! Please keep her in your prayers as well.
After we left McKayla's house it was 8:30 but we didn't have an appointment and we didn't want to go home early so we decided to swing by a part member family (a young family) Again, it was a home that we had tried to stop by earlier that week but they didn't answer the door (we heard someone home though) When we stopped by last night a woman (about 25) opened the door and almost immediately let us in. Her and her husband of 3 months have been looking for a church to go to. Her name is Abby Carmen and her husband Kellin Carmen. Kellin grew up LDS, but hasn't been since he was 15. Abby grew up as a Jehovas Witness but feels there has been something missing. They have a 6 year old daughter and one on the way. They let us share a scripture and were very open to learn more, Kellin already knows quite a bit, but Abby has lots of questions. We are going on a church tour with them tonight as well (after Mckayla) and we are having our Ward Mission Leader and his family come along. He is in his 30's and has a young family and a 5 year old daughter so were hoping they will be good fellowship. They've been looking for a new church! I couldn't believe how ready they were to receive us. I'm so excited! The work is just on high speed here! I love the area and I'm so grateful to be here. The ward is a huge support system and has been willing to help so much. The youth are wonderful and the laurels even want to go on splits with us! A little boy named Jared even came up to me yesterday and said he had a friend he wanted us to teach. The ward is definitly getting the spirit of missionary work! We're so excited to work with them. I love this work. Some days are hard and some days are amazing, but everyone was right when they said there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a light turn on in someones eyes. I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. I mean it when I say they make all the difference in my life here.
Tomorrow we are going to Tacoma for new missionary training and I'll get to see all my MTC friends! I'm SOOOOO excited. We are eating lunch at the Mission Presidents home, so that will be fun as well! Oh and fun fact, one of Pres. Bowens couselors is actually in our ward, Pres. Criddlebaugh, so its nice to have him so close, but also slightly intimidating. But we're working hard so I don't have anything to worry about. Dad would be so proud. I'm still getting up at 6:30 am and going to bed at 10:30 pm without any problems, the Lord has definitly blessed me in that area.
I haven't gotten any of your written letters yet because I haven't seen anyone from the office but my District leader called us yesterday and said he has one for me, so I'll get that today :) I do have my new address for you though, I should be here for at least 12 weeks and I'm hoping for much much longer,
Sister Sara Hope Bradley
135 View Rd Apt. A
Steilacoom, WA 98388
Now my companion and I have to go back and spend 2 hours cleaning the appartment. The elders that lived there previously left the bathroom pretty gross and there is dust everywhere! We went to Wal-Mart this morning (theres one just 3 miles away!) and picked up some cleaning supplies and food etc. I actually bought a dress. The black one Cheryl made me ripped right along the hem on the top of the dress, like big time. I'll have to ask Sis. Stevens (Relief Society Pres) if there is someone in the ward that is good with a sewing machine. But I got a really cute black dress at wal mart for $18 dollars so that was a definite blessing. If I have time today I'll write a letter home and put it in the mail. I hope I will. I love you all so much! Thank you for all your support and love, its been invaluable out here. I'll write you next Monday with more news. Love you!
Sister Bradley

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quick Letter

Hey family,
I just wrote you the longest letter ever! And the email just deleted it! I don't have a ton of time to re write this so I'll do the best that I can. I love washington, I flew in with the three sisters and elder in my district. I had the opportunity to share the gospel a little bit with the man I sat next to on the plane.
I got some serious vertigo as I landed at the SEA TAC airport. Washington is GREEN and there is water everywhere. I love it. My hair is just a frizz ball, it rained yesterday, but today we've had blue skies and its in the 50's. Pres. Bowen, Sis. Bowen and the AP's picked us up at the airport. They then took us to a chapel where we had our interview with Pres. Bowen and then our transfer meeting. My trainer is Sis. Jong, from Korea, this is her last transfer and she will only get to be with me for six weeks, so I'm going to learn all I can from her. Its funny, she is about 5'2 and I'm a foot taller than her. A lot of people look at us funny as we walk together. Its a good thing though. It was hard to leave my friends from the MTC after the transfer meeting. But all is well.
We were assigned to Lakewood (about 20 min. out of Tacoma) its very pretty. We are in a nice appartment where Elders used to live. They left us a ton of food. After the transfer meeting we went to dinner at our stake presidents house (pres. Stevens and his wife, sis. Stevens, who is our Relief Society president) After dinner Sis. Jong and I came back and did our planning for today and then I went to bed without even unpacking because I had been up for 20 hours straight, I was exhausted.
Thank you so much for all your letters, emails, and prayers. I appreciate it more than you can know. Right now I don't know my actual address here in Lakewood but as soon as I get it i will email it to you so we can continue writting letters for now just send them to the mission office and i will get them.
Today we had our zone meeting and were about to go on splits with the relief society president in a half an hour or so. I'm not as overwhelmed as I was yesterday, but I'm still a little nervous. Its hard to not have anyone with me that I'm not really good friends with, especially my MTC friends. But I love my companion.
Because my comp. is Korean, I have to drive, so I was given the keys to a brand new 2010 silver Corolla on my first day...slightly intimidated. I don't know the area at all and neither does Sis. Jang so it should take a while, I don't even know how to find out appartment when we leave, we have the DL show us the way before they head back to their area.
Lakewood is highly Korean, so it will be helpful to have a Korean comp. Apparently it is a very coveted part of the mission so were excited to just dive into the work. I'm so excited to be here and I'm thrilled to be sharing the gospel. I'm quickly learning that doing this is impossible unless you have an unwavering faith and trust in God. I'm gaining that faith and trust very quickly, as the area is new to both of us. Thank you for all your support and all that you do. Hopefully I can write you again soon. (Next monday) Until then! Love you!
Sister Bradley