Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring—email from 02-27-12

posted for Christine by Jana

Dear Home,

Today it is rainy and cold. And we had plans to go to the zoo until about ten minutes ago. But with the cold and rain we are cancelling that plan and going to the mall instead. Sister Surtees needs new tennis shoes badly. So if I don't get a chance to write any of y'all this week I promise I love you and I'm sorry I couldn't write. But we are having fun. :)

This week was really fast and really miraculous. We found 6 new people to teach. So things are starting to pick up to a pace that I don't know if I can keep up with. But I am so happy with that!!! We also finally got our bike rack after much drama. So we will probably be getting our bikes this week and starting that up! I'm really excited for that. We are doing it to save on miles on our car since our budget gets mostly used up in driving to trade offs.

I had an interesting experience with a pastor this week. We were contacting in an apartment complex and he came out of nowhere and asked to see my Book of Mormon. He then proceeded to tell me everything that was false about it and our church. He just kept going and going for about a half hour telling us different things that were false or how I was uneducated in the word of God and so forth. I was talking to the other sisters about it later and made a profound realization. In all of that, he told me everything that was wrong or false (in his eyes), but he never taught me truth. And I realized how different of an experience it was being on the receiving end of that. It is not good to merely attack someone's beliefs and tell them how they are wrong. We need to instead share what truth we know and share the knowledge we have and let them decide for themselves. That is Heavenly Father's plan. It always has been. Present us with simple truths and then let us decide for ourselves whether we will believe and follow the necessary course of action. I love that about Him! And it made me so happy that as a missionary I instead just present people with information and then leave it up to them to act and decide. It is such a better way for the person sharing and the person receiving.

Sunday we had a baptism!!!!! :D He is 9 years old and his mom and older brother are converts for a few years. She just started coming back to church in January and the 9 year old wanted to be taught and baptized!!! He is such a smart, funny, and spiritual kid. It was so fun teaching him for the past month. He has made it the most hilarious experience. One of the lessons that really cracked me up is when we taught him about tithing. His brother asked us. "Well if you're poor and homeless and you find a penny, then what?" And his nonmember dad incredulously replied "How do you tithe on a penny?!" I was so glad that dad took that question. We were laughing so hard we couldn't answer...

This coming Sunday we have another baptism! This one is a miracle found by Elder and Sister Barrus. They serve military families and there was a less active member that was deploying last spring. They promised they would take care of his wife and kids while he was gone. Well, their love and service reactivated him, and made her curious about the church. So she began learning with the missionaries last fall and is getting baptized this Sunday!!! I am so excited for her. She is so amazing. I love her.

So ummm....can I tell you I almost screamed and cried all at once when I read that Gerry went to the temple last week?!!?!?! I am soooooo sad I couldn't be there. But I am even happier for him!!!! Oh my goodness! My heart is full! I love him so much! And I am so happy that he was able to do that! What a miracle! I bet he is just on cloud nine. And to have so many friends there supporting him! That had to be just so amazing! Was Ruth able to make it? I hope so!

Wow...this letter is getting really really long. I better start wrapping this up here.

The pictures are from the baptism yesterday. 


On the left is Grandma and us. Then the baptism boy. Then Mom and Dad and all the brothers. 4 boys...their house is always crazy when we go over!


The second is Sister Surtees and I with the lucky baptism boy! YAY!

Remember...be the change!

love y'all!

Sister McCracken

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Presidents Day- email from 2-20-12

posted for Christine by Jana

BRRRR!!!! It was in the 80s yesterday and windy like you wouldn't believe. But now today it's below 50 and I'm freezing! Florida is turning me into a sissy.

This week was another light speed week. We spent two days in Savannah again and then another Sister Leader came to our area to trade off with me and see how I was doing. So Sister Surtees and I are really only companions about 50% of the time. It's weird.

We have had so many miracles this week though. Even though we were out of our area a lot of this week we found a lot of new people to teach and still were able to work with our usual people. We had a super miracle yesterday. This woman came to church yesterday that I didn't recognize, so Sister Surtees went and introduced herself as the new sister (it's our trick just in case I have met the person before and don't remember :D ) And it turns out this woman has been inactive for the last 10 years and decided yesterday morning that she was going to try it again. After church both the Bishop and the Relief Society president talked to us and told us to go visit her as soon as possible. The problem was that our entire day was scheduled out with appointments. But quickly every one of them called and cancelled. So now our evening was completely open. We decided to go see this sister. It turns out her husband isn't a member and they are both going through a lot of hard times. We visited for a while and talked it was amazing. The Spirit was so strong. We set up a return appointment for tonight. And as we were leaving she said she had been hoping we'd come over after church. It's amazing how Heavenly Father works. He is very open and says maybe this is the peace he is looking for. When we left Sister Surtees and I talked about how we both felt we already knew them and that was the most comfortable lesson we had ever had. I know that Heavenly Father planned all of us meeting specifically when He did for a purpose. I'm so excited to see them again tonight.

We've got two more exchanges this week. One of them will be other Sisters coming to us and the other will be us going just a little west in the stake to the other sisters in our zone. That one is going to be a little more exciting. The sister I'm going to be with is from South America and still struggling with her English. I'm going to have to remember to not talk fast and not use too many of my nerdy vocab words.

Sorry I'm remiss on voice recordings this week. The federal holiday threw me off a little. And then this morning we got a surprise visit from some people from Sister Surtees home ward that took us to breakfast. So I'm all sorts of jumbled up today.

But I have some funny pictures for you. Friday I was cooking lunch and Sister Surtees was making phone calls. At one point I turned around and looked at our patio door and see a squirrel spread eagle on our door!!! I'm staring in shock.


Sister Surtees was on the couch and saw my face, so she turned around to see what it was...And screamed like a little girl and ran back into the bedroom...while she was still on the phone. It was hilarious!!! Well we left and came back a few hours later and he was still there.


But when we got home that night he was gone. So that was a little disappointing. I named him Fred though for whenever he comes back.

So I'm loving hearing the stories of how y'all are making changes and trying to BE THE CHANGE!!! Keep it up! Let's keep this movement going!

all my love from Florida,
Sister McCracken

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Saints Went Up to Georgia- email from 02-13-12

posted for Christine by Jana

hehe...my wit is back! So as an explanation of my subject line. Sister
Surtees and I went on an exchange with the sisters in the Savannah,
Georgia area on Friday and Saturday. Sister Surtees is a Sister
Leader. So she has certain sisters that are under her stewardship and
that she goes and works with and trains them in areas they feel they
are lacking in. And I get to tag along and be the other missionary's
companion for those twenty four hours. So after we finally got back
Saturday night I was sitting there thinking and I asked Sister Surtees
"Isn't the name of that one song called The Devil Went Down to
Georgia?" She smiled, said "Yes. The SAINTS went UP to Georgia!!!!"
haha. For the first time in my life I went UP to Georgia. That's a
weird thought! It was great working up there and I got to teach so
many wonderful people. And we're going back again this week so she can
work with the other missionary. So I'm hoping I can see some of the
same people again and see how they are progressing!
Otherwise the week was pretty crazy! We basically only got to work as
a companionship in our area for 2 days this last week because of the
trade off and then Sister Surtees was at leadership training for two
days. But we had some amazing miracles in the couple days we did get
to work together. And she got some amazing training on how to better
work with members in getting them involved in missionary work so we
are really excited to get this going and see how this changes things!
It's been freezing cold the last few days!!! And by that I mean in the
50s...Florida is quickly turning me into a wussy. I'm a little nervous
about that!
Oh and tell Brother Gambrel I'm still not a Zone Leader... they said
something about priesthood authority or something...don't ask me! ;D

That is the back of our car loaded up with all the stuff we needed to
sleep over in Georgia! They have bed in a bag kits with blankets and
air mattresses for us. Thank Heaven!

That's a giant bridge we went over! Like GIANT!!!! Ships fit under it
kind of giant...if you get my drift.

Is it just me or was that exit sign a little over-kill for how little
is on it? Or is that the exit to the middle of nowhere? hehe
DSCN1123Sorry the gps one is blurry, having my flash on made it glare and I
couldn't get a clear shot. But there's the proof it tried to get us to
board a ferry!DSCN1125
And proof that we almost boarded a ferry. Crazy!

I love y'all and I'm just gonna simply say in some good Southern terms
"I'm fixin' to be the change." How about you?

love ya!
Sister McCracken

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunshine and Sparkles- email from 02-06-12

posted for Christine by Jana

No, I don't know what that subject means either. My creativity is starting to wane...shoooot....

Well, transfers went well! It was my first official transfer meeting since I came into the mission. And I loved it! One of the Elders going home was my zone leader in my first area. He was a tough cookie that I almost thought felt no emotions sometimes. But then he cried and cried at transfer. And I saw how much his mission really had touched him. At the beginning of every day and every meeting we recite a few things. Our Vision is "I am a diligent, obedient, worthy, powerful and holy disciple of Jesus Christ, now and forever." When this Elder bore his testimony he said "I finally understand for the first time what it means to be a disciple forever." That really touched me. This work never ends for us. In a little over a year when I come home I will be a returned missionary, but I won't be a retired missionary. What a thought.

My new companion is Sister Surtees! (See pictures below) and I love her!!! Ever since I got to the mission I have prayed that I would get to work with her. And I got that answer this transfer! (Look I rhymed!) So, I feel very blessed. She is a powerhouse missionary that is a spiritual kick in the face when she starts teaching/bearing testimony. I have so much to learn and so little time!

This week has been a slower week as far as teaching goes. Agency has been our bane this week. We had lots of scheduled lessons and appointments, but because of lots of different crazy circumstances most of them fell through. BUUUUT we found so many new people! And so many of them have so much potential! I have realized in this work that sometimes one aspect of the work has to fall apart a little so you take time to reallly focus on another. And our new focus was finding new people to teach! And I think we have been really seeing some good come from that.


I found a place that had sushi a couple weeks ago!!! Mmmm....sushi straight out of the ocean!


Sister Surtees and I. We went to Whataburger (it's a southern thing) to celebrate our companionship! Mmmm delicious!


And some random pirate stuff I found at a souvenir shop. The pirate theme is big here...I wonder why...Is it possibly having the ocean nearby?!


So as I reflect on my week and how things have changed a lot. I've seen that sometimes you have to let things fall apart a little and take a new path...And be the change that is needed.

I love y'all!!!!


Sister McCracken