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