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