Monday, January 30, 2012

It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood- email from 01-30-12

posted for Christine by Jana


Hello Hello Hello!

It's been another whirlwind week here in Florida! We got the news Saturday that Sister Mathis is transferring. So for once it's not me who has to pack up! I don't know who my new companion is yet. I will find out Wednesday afternoon. President Barry promised me a good one! But I'm sure he tells everyone that. :) haha

It's good to hear that Diane is doing so well! And I love her new hair! I think she should keep it this length for a while! Maybe just a little longer. Kinda like Jana's/Emma Watson. I'm so happy that she is recovering well.

YAY for Megan!!!! I'm so excited for her! I can't wait to see pictures of the little beauty! And the big question will be is she going to get Mommy's light hair or Daddy's dark hair? Guess we will see!

The weather has been a little better this week. We didn't get rained on this time around! The rain has been sticking to the night, or the morning while we are studying. Which I am grateful for.

We got to do some shopping last P-Day and I got myself some gator paraphernalia! Yay me! So now I'm an official gator fan. People will probably just stare in confusion when I come back to Idaho with that stuff. But that's okay with me!

As far as the missionary stuff goes we had a pretty good week. We taught a LOT. A lot of the lessons were at homes of part-member families or less-active people. But that's good too! So we kept pretty busy. Which is the way I prefer it. We had one little meeting that was interesting for me. I learned that you don't realize how much you believe in something until someone tells you that you don't believe. We knocked a door and the first thing the man said was "I'm an evangelical Christian and I've already been saved." I politely responded and said "Oh, don't worry, we're not here to perform doorstep salvation." After talking for a while he told us that we didn't believe in Jesus Christ. And suddenly I was soooo vehement in my belief of Jesus Christ. I have never so strongly wanted to tell someone YES I DO!!!! So we explained to him that he is the center of our beliefs and that we do everything we can to come to know him. It was amazing. I have never realized how much I believed in Him until someone challenged that. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my beliefs and explain that to people every day. I'm sure you all have had similar experiences on different topics as well.

I hope that you all are doing well! I pray for you every day.

On to the photo. I saw this flower at a members house and was in love! We can't grow anything like that in Idaho! He thought I was a nut for taking the picture.

Remember that being the change starts with simply being yourself. :)

I love y'all!


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter in Florida- email from 01-23-12

posted for Christine by Jana

Well, it sounds like you are finally getting some snow there. That's
exciting! We are getting a little rain here and there. People are
telling me Florida is in a drought this year. :( But that we are also
having an unusually warm winter. Which I am totally fine with!!! I'm
already turning into a wimp on the really cold days. (Down in the 30s
and 40s) But I'm going to blame it on the fact that I've never
intentionally chosen to go outside in light knee-length skirts and
bare legs in winter before! haha

The first picture is my war-wounds. We went to a less-active member's
home Saturday night for a lesson. He had us set up outside with
tiki-torches. It was really fun because the stars were out and the
smell of citronella made me think of camping. We had a great lesson
and he gave us 5 referrals! WOW! But, there was also a painful
side-effect to our visit...That morning I had ran out of my scentless
lotion so I decided to use some of the yummy smelling stuff I got for
Christmas...well...that was the wrong choice apparently. Throughout
the whole visit I could feel them biting me. I got 13 bites all over
my ankles and legs at that visit... That's my new record! I've gotten
lots of bites so far, but that is my record for one sitting! haha

We also had a small miracle this week. We had a less-active member the
relief society asked us to make some visits to, so one afternoon we
decided we would drop in and see how she was doing. Well, when we
pulled up she was raking leaves. So I jumped out of the car and said
let us help! She thought I was crazy since I was in proselyting
clothes, but I told her no fears! After we had been raking for about
20 minutes her non-member husband came home from work early! WOW! At
first you could tell he was trying to dodge us and went inside. But a
few minutes later he came back out with a plum for each of us! I got
him to stay out that time and talk for a while. We even got to have a
lesson with him in the end! And as we were leaving he said they would
have to have us back for dinner some time. It was amazing! That little
visit was definitely inspired. His heart is definitely being softened.:)

My studies this week have been really great! I started an in depth
study of the Apostasy this morning. Oh my stars! I was really
surprised by that. We had someone asking a lot of questions yesterday
and I felt like I was really bad at answering. So I starting reading
out of M Russell Ballard's book Our Search For Happiness. And wow! He
totally reminds me of Mr Haroldsen's history class! He gives an
amazing historical account of the Great Apostasy and explains it from
a historical standpoint. I started having flashbacks to World History
in high school as I read it. I wish I had my notes with me! That's
what I get for brain-dumping most of what I learned in high school...

So for my pictures...
The first is my war wounds on one of my legs. I woke up last night and
realized I was scratching them like mad...Good thing I have itch

And the next ones prove I wasn't a boy scout. We went to knock a
neighborhood and it was misty when I got out of the car, but I wasn't
too worried. Well, of course when we got farthest from the car was
when the downpour started, and I had left my umbrella behind. So I was
a drowned rat by the time I got back to the car. It was pretty



So, something I've learned this week is that as we can Be The Change
we can change stigmas people may have. When people have incorrect
ideas about others, whether they be missionaries, old white men, young
teens, mormons, the working class, the unemployed; we can help them
see what that truly means to be one of those people when we be

Sister McCracken

Monday, January 16, 2012

I love this place! email from 01-16-12

posted for Christine by Jana


Wooh!!! Another federal holiday and no public library! So I'm once again doing it from the iPad. Yay me!
It has been a fabulous week. We had zone conference which meant that the three JAX zones came together and we got trained by President and Sister Barry and the Assistants. It was amazing! I have pages and pages of notes from the day. Sadly it's only a once a quarter thing...I would love to have that training once a month! I learned so much! And we are having a Book of Mormon challenge as well! W will be reading it by June as well! But focusing the reading and the studying on thes doctrine of Christ and the Atonement. So I'm really excited! I'm only a few chapters in and already loving it! So we'll be reading together!


Last Monday we went and found a souvenir shop. Oh my, I had way too much fun in that shop! We found some of the weirdest things there. We're thinking of taking the senior missionaries with us soon so that they can have some fun too.

Haha I have Somme crazy pictures. Hopefully they come through! If anyone wants their own gator head to sit on the shelf...I can get you about weird...we also found a frozen yogurt bar like kiwi loco in IF. That made my day! It was definitely a good preparation day last week. We're thinking about going back to that part of town again today. We'll see.


So funny thing happened last week. We went to see a member that hasn't been to church in a while and see what's been stopping him. We were having a great visit and we could tell he had a pretty strong testimony. So my companion asked "why are you LDS?" and he fired back immediately "Because God is LDS! Just read the scriptures!" Oh my stars...I about fell out of my chair laughing. He did the teaching for us. It turns out he got a job that makes him work Sundays. So he still has a good testimony of the gospel. He just has some interference right now. That comment made my day though.

Most of the pictures are self explanatory but the one of the road and palm trees is where Atlantic Boulevard ends and the ocean begins!!! I love it! We walked to the end of the pavement, soaked it up, and then went to the souvenir shop. :)


There's Sister Mathis and I! 


The sign cracked me up...Is it just me or are they making fun of the "keep calm and carry on" mania?


And that is a nasty gator foot back scratcher...ewww...


The bag at the end is my new love and joy!!! Last night we went to a member's home to and I fell in love!!! She has everything antique and old school you can think of. Really, their house is indescribable. After the lesson and as we were leaving she ran up to me with the bag and said "something told me to give this to you. you made me feel really good tonight." I just about cried. She made the bag herself. And it's beautiful! :D I love her!


So yeah, hopefully all the attachments fit! I kinda overloaded ya, sorry!

By now you should expect what I'm about to tell you...Be the change!!! St Francis of Assisi said (roughly) "In all things preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words." (thanks Jana for the quote) So BE the change you want to see in people instead of forcing them.



Sister McCracken

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bipolar Florida

posted for Christine by Jana

So Florida has been a rollercoaster of weather. Early in the week I had a wool coat (which I inherited from a previous missionary) and thick tights on and I still thought I might freeze to death. It was in the 30s in the evenings. Which is just a little too chilly when you're out walking around...But today it's back up in the 70s and I'm in my short sleeves and no tights once again. I love  it :)

Stacey and Justin were confirmed yesterday!!!! SO WONDERFUL!!!! They got amazing blessings with their confirmations as well. I can tell they are going to have amazing lives and do a lot in the church. And I may be on cloud nine a little about the fact that I officially have my first two converts. I'm finally fulfilling what I was told in my patriarchal blessing! And that feels so good!

The rest of the week was still pretty slow in the work. We spent a lot of the week trying to hunt down former investigators. A lot of them have moved. And some of them are definitely still not interested. But that's ok. We met one family while we were doing all that who I really related to. We walked into the apartment and there was an IV pole with a feeding bag and pump...I immediately asked "Is your baby on  a g-tube?" She stared at me with a look of how did you know that and said "Yes." I explained that I have a little bit of personal experience with that and was able to win their hearts a little and make that connection. The Lord truly sends you to places for specific people. And I saw that fulfilled in that family. Even if they don't pursue investigating (which it looks like they won't) I was able to reach out and show Christ's love and understanding for the difficulties they are dealing with right now. So truly, our purpose as missionaries was still achieved. I'm learning that it's not as much about the baptisms as it is about giving people that invitation to Christ and letting them choose.

We were also able to have dinner with the Bishop's family last night. That was really fun. After dinner we taught them the third lesson, The Gospel of Jesus Christ. The children could answer all of the questions and did wonderfully. I love meeting with families that have children raised in the Church. They know so much and they have such firm faith in who they are and their purpose. It just makes me so happy to see that. Their oldest son kept blowing me away with his answers. That's when the Bishop's wife finally told us "His New Years resolution is increased spiritual clarity." And she was serious. And he's 12. I think this boy is a future general authority. I was so impressed with him! Their family is just all around amazing though. He's the bishop and a Navy Chaplain. Talk about keeping busy.

We did a lot of service during the week. Helping people move and cleaning for people seemed to be the order of the week. But it was good. It was nice to add the variety of some hard labor to the week. I'm hoping we can keep the pace and keep doing things like that throughout the coming weeks. It's a great way to win people's hearts. So I'm all for it.

Sorry I don't have any pictures for you this week. I kept forgetting to take my camera out with me, so I didn't get too much from this week.

Well, I love you all and hope that you're enjoying the beginning for your New Year. From everyone's letters it looks like it is going to be an exciting year! I can't wait to see what the year holds for all of us.
Good luck finishing the move Tory and Buh. Hopefully you aren't pulling your hair out at the end of this week. But hey, we're both living in beach towns now! YAY US! :D
Mine's still warmer though... ;)

Remember, we've got to be the change.
Sister McCracken

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Devotional

Posted by Jana

I found a few pictures of Sister McCracken on the mission blog:

This one you have to look pretty closely, but she is there five rows up on the left:

mission photo

Here is another that it wasn’t as hard to spot her in:

S. Knickerbocker3

Happy New Year! -email from 01-02-12


posted for Christine by Jana


I can't believe it's 2012. As I sit here and think back on the past year I realize that it has been one crazy year. A year ago I was looking at another semester of school and starting my career as a physics student. And now I'm sitting here pondering on the wonderful fact that the year 2012 will be completely devoted to missionary work this year. I just can't believe how the Lord can sneakily change our path without us even realizing what he is doing. I am just so grateful that I have the opportunity to devote and entire year. Most sister missionaries get part of one year and part of another. But I will get to focus one full year and when people say "what did you do in 2012?" Well, I was preparing for the second coming! What were you doing? Its so wonderful to know that get to spend the year that so many people are superstitious about the world ending helping people come closer to Christ and prepare themselves for that meeting whenever it does happen.

This last week was amazing! Stacey and Justin were baptized!!! The week was full of Satan fighting and trying to stop it from happening, right up to the moment Stacey went into the font. But you know what they say about those who fight against Zion... So luckily the baptism happened and they have started that new chapter of their life! They will be confirmed in church next Sunday and then Justin is headed off for another deployment next week. I just am so happy that he was home long enough to be taught and get the same answers as Stacey so that they could be baptized together! Now our goal is to get them to the temple one year from now!

The rest of the week was pretty slow. A lot of people were out of town for the holidays. So we weren't able to meet with as many people as we would have liked. But hey, they should all be back this week!
The weather has been weird here. It was hot a couple days and then dropped to the 40s for two day and then suddenly it was in the 70s e third day. The weather is definitely bipolar here. People say this is a normal winter though. It just swings back and forth for a couple months. Overall I like this kind of winter. Except I miss snow!

I finally got to see the ocean!!!! Elder and Sister Barrus our military couple took us on base and I got to see the ships and the water as we were leaving our appointment. And then later in the week we visited a member who has beach front property so we went in the backyard for a moment so I could see the ocean and hear the breakers. I loved every minute of it! I got some pictures I attached.

Oh, one last random fact of the week. For all of you football fans. I met Emmett Smith's high school football coach last night. Yeah. I pretty much squealed like a little girl when he showed me the pictures. He's a member of the ward here in AB. Crazy right?! Just One of the greatest players in the history of the game...and this brother coached him when it was all beginning! His wife was cracking up and called me an "anomaly" because I'm physics studying, football loving, sister missionary. Apparently that isn't the usual? Haha love it!

So attached I have two recordings from last week and some pictures from the baptism. I'm not sure on the quality of the pictures since I am once again on an iPad and didn't have time to preview them. Stinking federal holidays keep closing the library.

It's a new year, and a perfect opportunity to help those around you and be the change!!!

love ya and miss you all usual.


Sister McCracken