Monday, December 26, 2011

I love technology- email from 12-26-11


So here I sit writing my email from an iPad this week....seriously! We had to go to a member's house to write our emails since the library is closed. And darn...they only have one computer so I had to use the iPad since my companion isn't familiar with them. The little joys I get as a missionary are wonderful...haha
I absolutely loved calling home yesterday. Having Skype was just amazing. It made me think back to our calls to Alan on his mission and how expensive they were and how short they were. I love technology. It is definitely a blessing.
Well this week has been quite interesting. Getting transferred the day before your birthday and the week of Christmas is not the most exciting thing. I'll admit I cried a few times. But that's okay. The Lord has sent me to another struggling area, so I know that I've got to learn whatever I didn't get a chance to learn in Gainesville. It's a brand new ward as of a few months ago so they're still trying to get on their feet too and it was whitewashed by sisters two months ago just like I whitewashed Gainesville. So the work is just getting going here. And it is getting going! We are having a baptism with Stacy and Justin is Friday! So please pray for our investigators and that Satan won't get to them this week while they are preparing. He started getting at them at soon as we left Saturday night from their home. So we have a tough week ahead of us fighting for them.
The area is beautiful. We are literally at the coast of Florida. We're going to drive over there today so I can at least say I've seen it even though the mission ends where the sand begins. But hey I can at least see it for now!!!
My birthday celebrations were so much fun. Sister Knickerbocker made sure I had a fun birthday before I left orange park since I wasn't going to know anyone in my new area yet. It was so good! Then i lit my fire hazard of a cake Thursday night with with all 22 candles. I thought I was going to set off the fire alarms. But it didn't so we're okay! Oh and yes I loved the card. I was on the floor laugh and my companion was just staring in confusion because she couldn't see the card and couldn't understand why I found the rapping so hilarious. 
We opened all our presents real quick yesterday morning before church. I love love love all the things everyone sent me. I felt so loved and blessed with everything I got. So thank you to all of you! Even the cards had me really excited! So thank you thank you thank you!!!
That domino tower was amazing!!! It reminds me of my spaghetti noodle bridge days in engineering...glad you got photographic proof!!! And I loved that pic of my poor car covered in snow. It would like warm Florida a lot more I'm sure. :D
Tell Diane that I am praying for her and that she will be in my thoughts today. I love her and admire her strength! Keep me updated please!
Well I'm off to do all my other wonderful preparation day activities. I might get to do my grocery shopping at the commissary. I can't wait!
Love y'all!
Well, new years is coming up and so we are all considering what resolutions we can make and what goals we want to set. I hope you all will consider what you can do the be the change you wish to see in the world! This is the perfect time of year to do it!
Sister McCracken


The first two are Sister Knickerbocker and I enjoying our Chilii's birthday lunch courtesy of Mom and Dad. THANK YOU!!!



The next one is me blowing out the candles on my the church *cough cough*... Brian was wonderful to work with Sister Knickerbocker and surprise me with a birthday cake. He was ashamed it was store bought and he hadn't baked it. I love those people!


Sister Anderson gave me a birthday cupcake and sang to me the morning of transfers. Oh I love her!

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That is my cake with 22 candles!!! I even lit it. I took video, but I think the video is too big to email... :(



I love my Serenity t-shirt!!! Thank you Alan and family!!!


Photo frame!!! I was so surprised!! It's set up on my desk now and playing pictures all the time. I love it!



The adorable Sister Missionary ornament Austin's parent's sent me. I love it.


And that's me and all of our Christmas morning chaos. I have lots more pitures. So I may have to send this SD card home ahead of schedule so that you all can see more of my Christmas stuff


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas! email from 12-19-11

posted for Christine by Jana

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Well, another week down...And I'm transferring. I don't know where to, but I will be told Wednesday. So I'm packing once much fun....yeah...Anyway, we have had a fabulous week. It just disappeared. We have been just running around like mad women! It's crazy to think that Christmas is less than a week away. Especially when the temperatures are in the 70s...hahaha I love it!!!
The mission had a Christmas party Thursday. We had approximately 150 missionaries gathered in the stake center here in Orange Park. WOW!!! So many suits! haha It was such a wonderful day. It started with a talent show that was hilarious. Boy do the Elders know how to entertain. I tried to attach a video of the of the Elders doing the Haka but it's too large, :( . Most of you probably know the Haka from the movie Forever Strong because the Highland rugby team does that before every game. Our Elders do that at every door....just kidding!!!! Anyway then we had a wonderful dinner provided by the members of the stake here. Talk about service! I don't even want to think about the coordination it took to feed 150 missionaries. We ended with a devotional that was wonderful. Sister Barry made her own little nativity program up with some speaking parts and musical numbers. I even sang in the choir for it. It was such a wonderful way to remember the birth of our Savior. Thanks for the letters! It was so fun to open and read those that day. You are wonderful!
I got to meet a member of Bonnie and Richards ward at the Christmas party, and she is friends with Bonnie so she took a picture of me and text it to Bonnie. She just walked up to me and said "You're Sister McCracken! My daughter is really good friends with Sister Pierson!" Now if only I could see the Pierson's in person (hint hint, call president! haha kidding).
So get this, I sang in church yesterday. It totally scared me to do it. Sister Knickerbocker and I sang a duet of Mary Did You Know. I may have forgotten to mention that she is a professional vocalist so I was scared to sing a duet with someone who has so much training and skills. But I worked hard and pulled it off. It was so wonderful. We had a few people teared up (hopefully it wasn't from pain from my high notes...haha) Lots of people told us afterward it was beautiful and really brought the Spirit. So I'm going to tell myself I did ok. :)
I got some sad news yesterday. Sister Patterson called me and told me she's flying home today.She hasn't gotten any better since I left Gainesville and has actually gotten sicker. So they are sending her home to get better. She's hoping that it can be resolved and she can come back in a couple months. But that was sad for me to hear my trainer is leaving the mission. We've had 3 sisters go home early for different reasons this fall. It's pretty sad.
So to explain the pictures...
The first one is of Sister Mendivelso (from Colombia) and I. She is a Temple Square missionary that came to our mission for two transfers for her outbound time that visitor center missionaries do. She and I did a few exchanges together when I was in Gainesville. Oh how I love her.
The second in the ceramic Santa I got from one of the wards here. All of the wards gave gifts for the missionaries in their stakes and we got bags of gifts at the Christmas party. Well, I got a ceramic santa that holds a votive candle. I think it's beautiful and all, but I'm a little perplexed that it was given with the intention of giving it to a missionary. I may try to send it home since I find it a little hilarious.
I love you all!
Someone eat some sushi for me this week so I know at least someone got to enjoy a birthday lunch for me. :)
This holiday season can get hectic and people will easily get caught up in the materialistic side and frustrate us, but being frustrated doesn't do anything, instead be the change and make your holiday about Christ.
Merry Christmas!!!!!
Sister McCracken
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas: email from 12-12-11

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posted for Christine by Jana

It's that time of year!!! It's the final countdown to Christmas! It's pouring rain today, so that's a little different than what I'm used to for December weather. But we are loving it. 

We have had a fabulous week. It has totally disappeared. It feels like I just got here yesterday, but really I've been here two weeks. Sadly I probably won't be here much longer. We talked to President Barry yesterday and he said our companionship was only ever temporary, so we are probably being split on the 21. And I feel like I'm going to be the one moving...again...So who knows where I'll be for my birthday and Christmas. The mission is keeping me on my toes for sure! 

Speaking of talking to President Barry, that was a huge blessing! He called us Friday and said since he was going to be doing a fireside at 6 Sunday night in our ward he wanted to meet with us at 430 and just give Sister Knickerbocker and I a little extra training. Talk about feeling loved!!! So he came and it was a one-on-two discussion on some amazing things. He said there are 4 major problems people have with Mormons and he wanted us to know them and know how to not personify them as missionaries.

1. We are holier-than-thou with others and very prideful

2. We are the only ones with the truth

3. We are better than them

4. God loves us more

WOW!!! I was so sad when he listed those things. He then went through with scriptures and quotes to disabuse us from any feelings or beliefs that any of those points are true. His argument against God loving us more made me laugh. He said "The Church spends a great deal of it's budget on missionary work, so if you ask me, it might be the other way around." But it's so true!!! Our money, time, and energy, is spent on those who are NOT members of our faith. We need to realize that they are just as important to God and just as loved by Him.

And he had a really good quote from the book "Bonds that Make Us Free". I can't remember it exactly but here's the gist. A friend asked the author if Mormons thought they were better than everyone else. The author responded by saying. "No, there are many people in the world, even you, who are a far deal better than me. But I know with the message we have you could be an even better person than you already are, and without it I'd be a far worse man than I am." That really struck home for me. This message is for the betterment of man. We must see how very important it is for our lives and for the lives of those around us.

Two other fun things that happened this week were, A. We made cookie salvation!!! haha We made a Plan of Salvation lesson out of sugar cookies for a family we are teaching. It was so much fun and the family loved it. I attached pictures. The other wonderful moment was Thursday night at the Relief Society Dinner. We went because we got some less active people to come. It was a fabulous dinner and afterward they were doing a gift exchange. Well, they surprised us by having 3 bags of gifts and a basket of fruits for us. One of the members is an RM and said "Some of us know how hard it is to be away from our families this time of year so we wanted to make it special for you" We each got a blanket and then some other fun things. I love this ward!!!

I attached an audio recording for ya'll! Hope it came through. A lot of this email will be repeated on there, but hey. It's my beautiful voice (hahaha not that beautiful) on there just for you!

love ya'll!!!

Remember,especially at this time of year, people are losing focus on what is truly important. So get out there and BE THE CHANGE!


Sister McCracken

p.s. check out this profile. The video of this guy made my day. Someday that will be me! (Dad will especially love it)

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Monday, December 5, 2011

The weather outside is DELIGHTFUL! email from 12-05-11


posted for Christine by Jana

Dear Freezing Friends and Family :D

Greetings from Orange Park!!! This week has just disappeared. We have worked worked worked and had soooo many miracles. We had a recent convert refer us to his family and wanted us to teach them...3 people!!! But then we found out they were a block outside of our area. We were sooo disappointed. So we discussed long and hard and realized we needed to be obedient and give the referral to the missionaries for that area. We were so sad to give them up. But then the Lord blessed us with 12 other referrals this week!! Some more solid than others. But we are truly seeing miracles from our exact obedience to every last little rule. The sad part is we don't know what will happen on Dec 21. Most likely we'll be split up. So I may be moving again!!!! Wowzers. 

This companionship is a little unheard of since we flew out together and we are "co-training," but we are doing soooo well together. We make a lot of phone calls to the District Leader, Zone Leaders, and Mission Office with questions about policy and procedure. But everyone is being so helpful and supportive. We really are a powerhouse. And you'll see from the pictures that we are freaking people out a bit because we look pretty similar. One ward member was positive we are real sisters.

I think introducing ourselves is the most hilarious part for me. "Hi, I'm Sister Knickerbocker...Hi, I'm Sister McCracken" People legitimately laugh about 50% of the time when we first say our names. They're not used to such crazy names I guess. One member said my name sounded violent. Hmm??? And then another immediately replied "Release the McCracken!!!" Cracked me up.

I really love this area. It is a lot more of a traditional family community compared to Gainesville's college town population. So there is a lot more of seeing families. It's wonderful. We've got quite a few people we're working with as well. Our goal is for two baptisms in the month of December. We want a "white" Christmas! We can tell for sure that it will come from our strict obedience to the rules and from really letting the Lord take over and guide us. Having a companionship of two brand new missionaries has it's perks for sure. 

One thing from my scripture study that I'll share is 1 Nephi 22:25. In there it talks about the Lord and how he'll number his sheep and they'll know him. Well that "knowing Him" came to a whole new light for me this past week. One time Dad (I think it's him who told me) explained a bit of shepherding to me and that when little lambs stray from the flock that the shepherd will use his crook to break it's leg. Now this sounds terrible!!! Why would he do that?! Well the next thing he does is pick that lamb up and carry it on his back until it is healed. And while the shepherd carries the lamb he talks and sings. And all that time the lamb spends on his shoulders helps the little lamb know him, and know his voice. So that whenever the shepherd will call, the lamb will know his voice and come to him... Where am I going with this. As you've all figured out by now, my last area was tough on me. I had my legs "broken", but the thing is, as I look back I can see that I was carried and helped to know the Shepherd's voice. And now I know Him. And now as I'm in this new area I can run and work hard, but can hear my Shepherd's call and know Him. And I am very grateful for that.


Ok, so the first one is the Orange Park 2nd missionaries! We have a set of Spanish Elders in our ward. We just finished up a service project. Laying the pavers for that driveway!!! They started it the week before I came and we did the last half last week! Aren't you proud of me?!


So look at me with curly hair. Sister Knickerbocker did it for me. I didn't believe her when she said she could make my hair curly one morning, so she did. Never tell her she can't do something....haha


Ok the next two are hopefully satisfying for Mom for my mission plaque. I would like it up before the end of the mission ;D. If you don't like them I'll get some more taken.


And this is the fabulous duo of K & M. Aren't we adorable?!


We got to decorate that tree!!! It made us feel more in the spirit of Christmas.


And Mom you won't believe this. I sewed stockings. Yes I am getting progressively more crafty...There may be something wrong with me...hahaha 


Anyway, I love you all sooooooo very much! Your prayers and love are so appreciated! 

This week, help others to know Him by BEing THE CHANGE! :D

love you!

Sister McCracken

Monday, November 28, 2011

Officially a Missionary- Email & Address Change 11-28-11


Dear Family,

Well, first things first, my address has changed! I am being transferred today to a new area. I'm  leaving Gainesville this afternoon. :( I am going to be in a ward in Orange Park (like I know where that is...haha). My address is now:

351 Crossing Blvd Apt #1023

Orange Park, FL


Please make sure people are aware of this change. And if you could send it to the same email list of people as the last time, that would be great.

Anyway, on to the update of my week. I can now say that I am officially a real missionary. I was attacked by a dog...REALLY! I was tracting with Sister Surtees. We came to a yard with a white picket/gated fence. Those yards ALWAYS have dogs. So I pleaded that we not knock it. She shook the gate and saw no dog and said we were fine. As we got up to the door a huge dog came walking around the house. It didn't do anything more than just walk around us and let Sister Surtees pet it. We knocked the door, talked to the maid, and then as we turned to leave the dog suddenly jumped and bear hugged me!!! AAAH!!!! with the help of Sister Surtees I got it off only to realize my skirt was torn apart. It was my gauzy black cotton one (my favorite of course) and the dogs nails had totally torn it apart. (pictures attached) I proudly wore my war-wounds the rest of the day since it marked that I am officially a missionary. haha 

Right after my battle with the dog, the highlight of my mission thus far happened. I extended a baptism invitation!!!! It was my first one! And she accepted!!!! No date is set yet as she feels she's not ready for that. But she said she'll be baptized! Oh how I love this woman! And she was a referral that we only started teaching the week before. Member referrals are the BEST! I'm hoping that I'll get word from Sister Patterson later this year that she has set her date. Everybody pray!

Thanksgiving day was pretty fabulous. Two thanksgiving dinners!!! We had one at noon at one member home, and then another at 4 at another member home! I literally did not eat the next day because I was so stuffed! Poor Sister Patterson picked up another stomach virus and was throwing up for two days straight. So I've got a little cabin fever since I've been locked up in our apartment since Friday morning. I got some amazing studying done in that time though! I read a lot of the General Conference talks again and just loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk You Matter To Him. Every time I read it, I love it/him more. Getting cooped up in an apartment with a companion who is sleeping all day can get lonely and that talk just really brought solace to my soul. (Jana can you post the video of it on the blog with this letter? I hope so) Will you all read or listen to it this week? (I'm going to assume I just heard a resounding yes from all of you) That talk is meant for everyone of every circumstance and is amazingly powerful.

Also, guess what? I have a profile! Go check it out! I've done some updating on some of the answers though. So it will probably be different a few weeks from now. But anyway, check it out! And tell EVERYONE you know If you don't feel comfortable telling people about the church, send them to It answers every question they could ever have! And they can chat online with missionaries live if they have more questions.

Thank you for the christmas tree! I love it! It went up Saturday night. Just to come back down today...but I'll get it back up soon!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a good one, but I definitely missed doing it with family. You all are a hard act to follow!

Well, gotta go back to packing and cleaning so I can load up and head out. Love you all!

Every day I see how this world needs more good in it, so I ask you all right here and right now to BE THE CHANGE!!!


Sister McCracken


You Matter To Him



Monday, November 21, 2011

Because I Have Been Given Much. . . email from 11-21-11


(posted for Christine by Jana)
(How about that first one for my plaque mom and dad?!?! haha jk! Just wanted to prove that I still am doing my makeup and hair (just for you alan! ;D))
Good Morning Gator Fans!
The team actually won this weekend. So the city is pretty proud of themselves right now. I love game days though. It's always the easiest day for door approaches when knocking because we can always start the conversation somehow about the Gators. Work with what you've got, right?
Well this week has been a miracle week. We have 4 new people in our teaching pool! Now we've just got to get them to stick! One of them seems pretty promising though since her questions were more like "What role will I play as a member of your church? How am I going to fit in?" Woohoo! She's basically coming into this with the assumption she will most likely join! I love it!
We also got the wonderful opportunity to go the Lindsay's master's recital. She is getting her master's in music performance and is a mezzo-soprano and had to do a solo recital for graduation requirements. Wow was it beautiful! We got that little treat because one of our investigators was there and it gave us a chance to talk to her since we haven't seen her in a week-ish.
I apparently haven't changed as much as I could/should have. We were teaching someone last week and they were struggling with why we didn't use wine in the sacrament since that what Christ used. We reminded her about the Word of Wisdom, at which point she started saying "Well grape juice would look more like blood than water does. Water doesn't represent blood at all." My patience had been tried at this point because she was just running silly logic circles and not seeing the bigger picture so I responded, "How does potato bread represent the body?!" She paused and then answered "Well, you've got me there." and let the topic drop. It probably wasn't the best way to resolve her questions, buuuut it worked...haha
Thanksgiving this week should be fun. An older couple in the ward has invited us to spend it with them. So we won't be having hot pockets for Thanksgiving! We're hoping to do some visits around the ward as well to see some of the people who won't be having family here and may not have the most fabulous Thanksgiving. I'm just excited for the holiday!
As a forewarning I possibly may be moving out of Gainesville the week of Christmas. Sister Patterson and I are pretty sure one of us will be leaving. So any and all letters, cards, and such should be sent so that they can get here by like the 17th. Especially if any of you choose to send sweets or treats (wink wink) I would like them to be with me wherever I end up that week. :D
And since it's Thanksgiving this week I challenge you take time and write a list of the things that you are thankful for in your life right now. It's amazing how much we have in our lives. I see every day here in the ghettos and the projects how hard life truly is for a lot of people and how little they have in most aspects of life. Not everyone is nearly as fortunate as I know I am and you all are. So take a moment and think of all the things, opportunities, privileges, people, and blessings you have in your life at this time.
Love you all!
Remember, we all have a choice in life of who and what to be, so I suggest you...BE the change!
Sister McCracken

Who needs a mickey head on your antenna when you can have a real...I dunno what it is...moth/butterfly/really cool bug???DSCN0760

These lizards are literally EVERYWHERE!!! There was one on my car door handle the first week here. They are really small though. The longest ones only stretch from the base of my palm to the tip of my longest finger probably.


We have exchanges every week this transfer and that's Sister Mendivelso! Oh do I love my crazy Colombian! Ayayayay!


Krispy Kreme!!! DELICIOUS!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heat Wave- Email from 11-14-11

posted for Christine by Jana

Dear Frozen Friends and Family,

Do I dare tell you it's supposed to get in the 80s this week? Oops, I guess I just did. Hope the cold isn't treating you too badly ;D.

Well it's surprisingly back around to P-Day again! Boy is the time moving faster and faster. I've officially been gone from home 2 months and in the mission 6 1/2 weeks. Wow. Time really does fly out here. Sadly our week wasn't as productive as others. Sister Patterson got the flu and we spent Thursday and Friday holed up in the apartment while she spent a lot of time worshipping the porcelain gods. Poor thing. I read almost the entire Conference Ensign though. Yay me. It was a very productive two days as far as studies and paperwork went. Oh and I got to trap and relocate a cockroach Friday morning that I found in our joyful...Hopefully that's that end of those experiences!

The rest of the week was spent doing a lot of hunting of less-active people. It turns out almost all of them have moved away at some point. But hey, at least we know that we're not falling down on our job here in regards to them. Transfers were also last week and we lost have of the Elders in our district. So that was sad to see them go. The new ones seem pretty exciting and devoted though. So that's good. One of them is from Rigby! Talk about crazy. The longer I'm here the more I'm finding people from back home. Like yesterday we were having dinner with a member family (Brother and Sister Weenig) and guess where the first area in his mission was? Ucon, Idaho. I told him I was sorry haha...And then he spent a good portion of his mission in Oakley. So who knows, maybe Danae's in-laws know him.

I wish I had some wonderful teaching experience I could share with you all this week, but not much happened in that regard. But that's okay, it runs in cycles. I love it here in Gainesville. It's such a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds. And Sunday School is always fun because they love to always ask me questions on everything they don't know since I'm an "Out west Mormon". That apparently automatically qualifies me to have vast knowledge regarding all things church related. Miraculously I've have answers to every question so far. Don't ask me how that worked out! How many "out west Mormons" know about indexing, martin's cove and the second rescue, familysearch, and the list goes on...

Well, sorry Rexburg is already so cold. There is a girl in the ward here who is starting school there in January. I've been trying to prepare her. But I think I'm more scaring her than anything. She is not at all prepared for the winter there. People here keep talking about how it's winter and cold here. It dropped into the 60s and high 50s a week ago so now it's winter apparently. Everyone is bundled for winter and I'm wearing summer clothes as usual. Everyone just stares, but hey, it's a conversation starter!

Tell everyone at the ICDF to take a day off and stop talking semantics. That's a Clint thing to do, and now that he's gone we should be past that! haha Hope the early morning drive out to the desert was as joyful as ever Dad! I woke up around 4:30 this morning, looked at my watch, laughed and went back to sleep. Oh how I do not miss those early mornings.

I love you all!!!! Remember, when the going gets tough...that's when the tough get going! So get out there and be the change!


Sister McCracken

Monday, November 7, 2011

There is Sunshine in My Soul (email from 11-7-11)

Posted for Christine by Jana


The first is my letter writing repose on P-Days. tough stuff right? Listening the water and classical music really makes my day.

And me! relaxing and writing lots of letters. Black and purple is all the "dressed-up" I got on Halloween day itself. But I still had fun!




No, I have not been made a Spanish missionary, but we have Spanish Elders in our district, so I get exposed to it. Anyway, first off Happy Birthday to the newest sub-human of the McCracken family. Just kidding, welcome to the teenage years Alec! And Happy Birthday coming up to Ashton and Kimi. (I hope I'm not missing anyone, does someone want to send me a birthday calendar so I don't? Thanks!) And tell all the little trick-or-treaters I loved the pics of their costumes. They look absolutely adorable.

Next I want to say good luck and I miss you to all of my Veteran's Club friends and I'll be thinking of you all this Friday. I'm sad I'll miss the celebration and I hope the memorial is ready and in place for dedication. I would love to get pictures of the day since I won't be able to participate this year. Remember, I love you all!

And this shout out goes to the South family. I was eating dinner with ward members (the Ross family) Saturday night and lo and behold they are from theIdaho Falls area. They lived off of Lincoln and 45th. We were comparing all the commonalities, but this is where it got freaky: he said "Now this part you'll probably definitely know, I worked for that company that does all the concrete domes." I about passed out!!! I said yes I know that company! Rod South is my bishop! He said he worked for Jason (Bishop South's brother). And then we went off on all the international projects and the work the company did that we both knew. Anyway, who knew that in Gainesville, Florida I would meet people from my hometown who worked for the company my bishop is a part of. CRAZY! I was as giddy as a school girl to get to talk to people from home.

In regards to our move we haven't heard anything yet. If we do move it's just going to be to a different part of Gainesville with the same area to work in. Our apartment just has a lot of issues and we're hoping to get to a better situation.

Yes our training with President Barry was amazing. He will be here until the summer after I go home. The Elders I came out with will have 2 months with the new mission president. I luckily will have just President Barry. He is amazing, kind, energetic, but gentle. He is everything I had dreamed my mission president would be. I can't wait to get more chances to get to know him and learn from him.

I can't believe it's that cold and snowing back home!!! It's a little weird to think it's November since it's still in the 60s and 70s here. So I can't even imagine snow. Guess you got the Christmas lights up just in time!

So update on my week here. We have had a busy busy week. Service and teaching have filled our week and we were thrilled for the extra hour of sleep saturday night with the time change...Friday and Saturday we had exchanges with our Sister Leader and her companion. Also, it was homecoming weekend. The entire city shut down for that. All the schools in the Gainesville area were closed Friday to attend/participate in the homecoming parade. All day Saturday was one giant tailgate downtown. It was amazing! So, we tracted a lot saturday since not even members wanted to schedule appointments with us because they were watching the big game (which we won!). During the game Sister Mendivelso and I ended up knocking the door of some hometown hero retired NFL player! WOW! We left him with a restoration pamphlet and I hope to go back and talk to him more this week. Talk about awesome potential investigator!

PICTURES!!! Ok the one I didn't explain last week is just a cool house I saw and I thought the big tree looked like a really spooky halloween tree.

This week's pictures are:

The first is my letter writing repose on P-Days. tough stuff right? Listening the water and classical music really makes my day.

And me! relaxing and writing lots of letters. Black and purple is all the "dressed-up" I got on Halloween day itself. But I still had fun! the change!

I love y'all!


Sister McCracken

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! email from 10-31-11


posted for Christine by Jana


Hello lovelies! It's been a fast week here for me. As I was walking into the library I was trying to even remember the high points to tell you all about. So forgive me if I forget any of the major excitement.

We are finally getting some progress made on finding people to teach. We've got a few people who are willing to meet with us, now we just need to catch them at home! People here are ridiculously busy. Many say "I'm here doing nothing all day" But then we never seem to be able to catch them at home. But hopefully things will slowly begin to work out in that realm. We have real hope for a few people we've met with.

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day. All our appointments were no shows on us...doh. But our back-up plans worked splendidly. My favorite back-up plan was a dinner party a member was hosting with a whole group of nonmembers yesterday. She had made tons of soups and everyone brought their own bowl. The big soup of the day though what pumpkin curry soup. Oh my it was delicious!!! I've never had pumpkin soup before. And then one of the friends had pumpkin pie mousse she had made that was topped with candied ginger. I felt so fancy! You must understand there are two things that missionaries can get excited over, teaching people and food. So I get really excited over food. hehe The friends were all awesome too. They're all here in an acupuncture school together and from everywhere, one lady is from Romania. So we had some cool conversations and I got to tell them about missions and how they work and everything.

Then last evening the Elders in our district had two people getting baptized. So we went to the baptism. That was my first time at a baptism for someone not brought up in the Church. It was amazing! They are two really cool people and it was just a touching experience. It got my fire going to help someone to that point myself.

Saturday the ward held their trunk-or-treat. The Self family was determined to have Sister Patterson and I dressed up somehow because coming in just missionary clothes was not enough. They finally decided to dress us as Mormon Pioneers. Kaitlin (the 19 y/o) went on Trek and had some pioneer dresses. So we graciously took them thinking there was no way we'd actually be dressing up. Friday morning Sister Patterson and I had a meeting with President Barry. So at the end we asked very nicely if we could please dress as Nauvoo Missionaries for the party. He laughed and said of course. So we went as pioneers! Some people were pretty thrown off. It was a fun conversation starter for sure.

Speaking of the meeting with President Barry. That was an adventure all of its own. We were told a month ago there was a meeting for all the new missionaries being trained on Friday the 28th at 10 am. So we went to the church we were told it was at and there was no one there. So we called the President Barry to ask where we were supposed to be. He was told a different church. And then he tells us it's just the two of us and him and Sister Barry meeting. Eek! So they came and met us where we were. So we got a two hour one-on-one training/discussion with the mission president. It was awesome. It was nice to get some time to get to know him a little better too. Since we're so far west we don't see them much.

I hope all the kiddos have adorable costumes planned! I can't wait to see pictures of everyone. I'm disappointed I don't get to go all out with my pirate costume again. haha Today I get to dress as a Mormon missionary! (again!) We're planning to make halloween cookies and then trick-or-treat the older couples and widows in the ward with cookies this evening. I'm pretty excited!

Here's explanations of the pictures attached:

I think the first one is obvious. Aren't we cute little Mormon Pioneers? I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder a little though...

The next is myself and Sister Self. She dressed as Marge Simpson. I was thoroughly impressed with her. All homemade! She even painted herself yellow for the occasion!

This is how serious people take trunk-or-treats here. Apparently last year the whole back half of the car was a shark. These are the Nuesca's. They are a lovely couple! They are both returned missionaries. And she is from Idaho Falls! (She is Lindsay Johnson and graduated 98 at IF. Do you know her Jana?) We practice teach them and also we are teaching one of their friends for reals. They always brighten our days.

love y'all! the change!

Sister McCracken




Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunny Days: email from 10-24-11

posted for Christine by Jana

Dear Devoted Fans,

Another week has already passed. The days are long, but the weeks are short. The work is rolling forward and we are making progress inch by inch. We got a referral from ward members last week and will meet with them and their friends tonight. All I have to say is I believe in members sharing what they believe! We have gotten zero investigators from knocking doors. Most people don't even open their doors. But people will talk to us if their friends sent us or they meet us at their friend's house. So now we're just working like crazy with the ward to get them to share their friends with us. So I beg you, if a missionary ever asks if you have someone you can share the gospel with, PLEASE GIVE A NAME! I feel so humbled and so regretful about the way I treated missionary work before I came out. I treated it as the missionary's job, well now I'm the missionary and I see that I can't get anywhere without my members. So please support them. Oh...and feed them...dinners are always nice. :D

It sounds like you have had quite the weekend playing. I'm jealous. I keep waiting for my "Saturday" morning when I'll get to sleep in even 30 minutes...and I then I realize oh yeah, that "Saturday" is 17 months away. Oh how I miss vacation days now. Why did I always waste them by getting up early and going to the gym?! I hope the weather was nice enough for at least one stroll on the beach with the kiddos. I bet they loved it. And I'm glad to hear that Ryker still wants to come on my mission. I would love to have him as a companion. I'm sure he could do a lot better door approaches than me. Speaking of door approaches...Last week we were knocking a neighborhood and I noticed what I thought was a girl placing one of those home security systems signs in a yard. On the next street over I saw another guy dressed like her carrying a sign as well...DOH! We were knocking the same neighborhood that 5 security system people were rushing/knocking...Needless to say we got in our car and moved to a new neighborhood. Even though my "security system" is better I didn't want to make a neighborhood hate us by being the second group to knock that night. Oh the comical side of knocking doors...

So anyway, thank you for the box and the clothes! I love it all and wore the skirt and blazer yesterday for stake conference. Everyone told us we are cute sister missionaries. So thank you! Stake Conference was amazing. The focus was all about the temple. Woot! Loved every minute of that.

I'd like to share one thing since I've heard rumors and bits and pieces about the cult accusations against our Church. President Barry (Mission Pres) spoke at the Saturday night session of conference. His main points that I took notes on are that we need to defend the Savior Jesus Christ. We are long past the days of defending Joseph Smith and what he did. We need to defend that we are Christian and not only that, but that we believe in the divinity of Christ. He was not just merely a good moral teacher. He lives, and is our Savior and Redeemer and that is what we need for people to know about us and what we believe.

Ok, so I went a little preachy with y'all like I swore I'd never do. Oops. Don't drift off now! This is still a fun letter! We got to do service Friday by cleaning up a members yard. She was brave enough to give me giant pruning shears and set me loose on the hedges. It made me miss the days of chainsaws and Grandpa's hedge...And made me wish I'd paid more attention...But I succeeded in taming the beasts! Who knew I had pruning skills? I'm surprising even myself sometimes. They all were laughing at me though because I was having so much fun with it and enjoying it so much. Oh well! It was my first hard labor in two months and I was stoked!

I miss you all as usual. You really are the best!


Sister McCracken the change!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Email from 10-17-11

posted for Christine by Jana


Hello Lovelies!

Hmm what exciting stories can I share... I actually sorta, kinda taught a lesson last week!!! We have some members we've been practice teaching on and last week they brought a friend who had questions and interest so we basically had a question/answer session with her about things like the law of the tithe and what that money does. Then we shared the story of the restoration. She soaked it up like a sponge! At the end I got bold and asked her to read the Book of Mormon. She said "How much and how soon?" I was hoping for the first chapter of Nephi and she said how about the first book of Nephi! AAAAH! The only catch is she is a Doctorate student in Chemistry at UF and is HUGELY busy with school (weird right?!), so she said it might take her until Christmas break to do that, but she promises to do it. You can tell she isn't half-hearted about this, so I'm really excited to see where this goes.

Otherwise we are still just knocking doors to no avail. People here are very religious and like their religions so not many people let us get past " missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ"...before they are closing the door. But that's okay. Eventually someone will want to know more. And I will be ready when that day comes!!! haha We are still working like mad-women to connect with the ward and get referrals there. We are slowly progressing on that front and hopefully will see the fruits of our labors there soon.

Sister Patterson hasn't been feeling well the last couple days so I've had a lot of time to sit and study in the apartment. It's been awesome. I've just been powering through the Book of Mormon (my goal is to read it at least 6 times while I'm out) and marking up all the scriptures that go with the Preach My Gospel lessons. And wow have my studies been awesome. Sister Patterson was shocked that I could just sit there and study for three hours straight. What she doesn't realize is that this is much more interesting than thermodynamics and much easier to stay awake through compared to special relativity and if I can study that for hours on end I can surely study the scriptures for three hours.

Mom, I think I found two of your new best friends in Gainesville. One is a sister I would guess is your age. You would not believe her sewing area! She has a whole wall of shelves and the fabrics are sorted by color and some into clear totes and lableled with that color. Then there are drapes that pull closed across of it so you don't see the fabric, ribbon, thread storage. I plan to get pictures...Sorry Dad if this means next summers renovation project is fabric storage... Next is a couple my age that got married this spring. We walk in and he has three dehydrators going. I casually ask what he's drying, assuming a fruit of some sort. Oh no, he's making his own minute rice. Fruit was totally last year. Now he dries meals like taco soup, minute rice, oatmeal, and all these things so that all he has to do is add water and they've got dinner. They are majors hikers and are trying to come up with their own stock of MRE type foods. It amazed me what they had done.

I'm sad I missed Jason and Shelly's return to Ucon. Tell her I miss her and she was one of the best YW's leaders. And tell Kylene congrats!!! Alivia already sounds like she's going to be a heartbreaker. I love the name. I hope they're all doing well with the work of a new baby in the house.

I decided to add a few more photos this week just for fun:

  • Sister Wall's family loved sending food in the MTC (like every couple days) and Sister Delaplane and I loved eating it for her! And yes, Sister Delaplane is eating an oreo dipped in frosting. It's actually quite delicious. I ate my cupcake before the oreo fest though...
  • The plants here are crazy! I feel like I'm in a Dr. Seuss book half of the time. These flowers were on a tree.
  • And this is about how everyone's yards look. It is sooooo soooo sooo green and lush here. No one grows grass really since the soil is essentially sand and also no light reaches the ground. But it is so gorgeous!

I can't say that I'm sad I missed the snow. It's still t-shirt weather here. Some natives are saying it's getting cold and I just laugh! This is summer where I'm from! Which does make it very confusing when I realize it's the middle of October. I'm still struggling with that since it's even hot for me here some days.

Well, I dunno if I have much more to say. I love you all! And I miss EVERY one of you who reads this. Truly. I didn't realize how lucky I was with my friends and family until the umbilical cord got cut.

Remember, BE the change!


Sister McCracken



Monday, October 10, 2011

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the missionaries AREN’T snoring. . . (email from 10-10-11)

Posted for Christine by Jana

Here are some pictures she attached to the email. I inserted Christine’s descriptions of what they are, and can I just say that the last picture freaked me out when I first saw it? :

Well there's one of me at the Provo Temple.

DSCN0507The one of just my nametag was Sister White's artisitic creation. I personally love it.


The weird face picture is Sister Delaplane and I. Oh how I love her. We were best friends the 3 weeks at the MTC. We were always laughing together.


Well there's me mopping. Oh the joys of cleaning an apartment that has only ever been inhabited by Elders and may never have been cleaned....


The maroon beauty is our car. Yes, a 2011 Ford Fusion. (Austin can cry right now. ;) ) I am now the primary driver as I told the President I wanted to survive this transfer. Cleopatra (the car) and I are already good friends.


Umm...the cheesy smile is me attempting to...yeah, smile. That's me in the apartment proving that I still do wear makeup. Haven't let myself go yet ;)


And the last is a car that totally tripped me out in traffic and made me thing I was in the Forbidden Forest and that Harry Potter was going to show up soon. 


To my devoted family and friends,

First of all, I have received all the boxes you have sent Mom. Sorry I forgot to answer about the Mission Home ones last week, and yes I've been breaking in the rain coat and umbrella. Last night while we were sleeping was the worst. I didn't get much sleep after 3 am as I think there may have been a monsoon in our parking lot. Its been a few years since I've experienced such loooong heavy rainstorms and spectacular thunder and lightning. Too bad I wanted sleep more than I wanted a show... As to the box it said I never picked up, I went the next morning and got it. Thank you!!! It's nice to not sit in silence during studies and to have some music when I'm cooking. Yes mother, I'm cooking. Surprising, right?!?! You'll also see a picture of me manually mopping the floor. I miss my swiffer... Anyway all the items made it safe and sound with no damage.

Sounds like the weather there took just as crazy a turn as it did here. I had been here a week with warm temps and sunny skies. The past 4 days have been sporatically rainy and sometimes it's overcast. Still warm though! :D Hopefully the boys don't freeze too much on their hunting trip.

Yes, I've still got all the travel money you gave me (minus what I paid to check my luggage, but I was reimbursed on my proselyting card [missionary credit card] so I'm at full funds) and yes I have it hidden. Mine isn't an altoid tin, but I think it is almost as creative a hiding spot. So I think I should be ok. I'll take note and keep it a secret spot.

Things have slowly been picking up here. We are meeting with members and trying to build a relationship with a ward since Sister Patterson prefers to do her work through the members. Statistically converts are more solid if they have been fellowshipped by a member who introduced them to the Church than if we just knocked their door. So I agree with her, but we've also got to fill our days with work, so we finally got out tracting Saturday night. To no avail. The city shuts down on Saturdays for Gator games. Not even ward members would let us in. So we are discussing with President Barry the possibility of moving P-Day to Saturdays at least through the football season since it's essentially an all day event for these people (Drink before the game, watch the game, be drunk/drink more after the game) so we have no hope of meeting new investigators or getting lesson appointments on those days. I'll keep you updated as to if that will happen.

But Church yesterday was amazing, almost every person who got up and bore their testimony talked about how they had shared the gospel with someone that week. So we tracked them all down after sacrament and said LET US HELP!!! So we are hoping to get some referrals this week. We got a referral from a student couple last week, sort of. We have been practicing teaching on them since I don't want my first few lessons to be affecting someones salvation. We asked after our last lesson if they maybe had any referrals and they said "Oh, duh! I can't believe we didn't invite her!" They have a friend who is super interested in the Church and will hopefully come to our next lesson with them this week! Woohoo! We're going to do more tracting this week (I've almost got Sister Patterson convinced it's not as bad as eating pickled beets. But that's about the face she makes when I bring it up haha.) So hopefully we can find some people that way. We tried to find some less actives to reactivate and thus far none of them live there anymore. One apartment we knocked said they had lived there for 3 years and hadn't heard of the person we were looking for. So some of our work is just cleaning up the ward roster. Opening an area is definitely a learning experience. I'll be the best missionary in the FJM after this! haha probably not...but I'll know how to do everything except be in a leadership position...(cross our fingers that doesn't happen while I'm training)

For the pictures I attached I'll try to give little explanations.

Well there's one of me at the Provo Temple. Maybe one like this for my plaque? There's a whole bunch on the SD card I'll send home this week, so you can pick one.

The one of just my nametag was Sister White's artisitic creation. I personally love it.

The weird face picture is Sister Delaplane and I. Oh how I love her. We were best friends the 3 weeks at the MTC. We were always laughing together.

Well there's me mopping. Oh the joys of cleaning an apartment that has only ever been inhabited by Elders and may never have been cleaned....

The maroon beauty is our car. Yes, a 2011 Ford Fusion. (Austin can cry right now. ;) ) I am now the primary driver as I told the President I wanted to survive this transfer. Cleopatra (the car) and I are already good friends.

Umm...the cheesy smile is me attempting to...yeah, smile. That's me in the apartment proving that I still do wear makeup. Haven't let myself go yet ;)

And the last is a car that totally tripped me out in traffic and made me thing I was in the Forbidden Forest and that Harry Potter was going to show up soon.

I'll be sending the SD card home this week so you can see and share more. So for anyone who wants to see more....well....heckle the Momma and the Poppa because they'll have them!

I miss and love you all! Thank you for the support and prayers! I can feel it.

Remember, be the change!

And I, Sister McCracken, make an end of my writings concerning these things. Amen.