Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Brrr…—email from 04-23-12

So it started raining Saturday night and rained most of yesterday and now it's 59 this morning! Ahhh it feels like winter again! We got our sweaters and tights back out this morning. I'm hoping this cold doesn't last too long.

We had a good week. Sister Barry, the mission president's wife, came teaching with us Thursday night. It was really fun and nerve wracking all at once. We felt so nervous during one our teaching appointments when she pulled out her notebook at started taking notes. But it was funny because even our investigator was made nervous by it too. So everybody just got to be jittery that night.

The rest of our week was slow. It was national "don't answer your door/phone" week in Florida. Or at least I'm telling myself that. One guy we talked to on the street teased that it was because everyone was hiding from the IRS this week. But whatever.

Saturday I surprised Sister Surtees with a little going away shindig. I talked to some ward members and said I wanted her to know how valued she was here so we invited a whole bunch of people to come to the church Saturday evening to say goodbye. Sister Surtees thought we were going to the church to give a church tour to one of our investigators. Little did she know he was in on it too. :D But somehow she started putting pieces together throughout the week since I was passing secret notes to ward members and having whispered conversations with them every once in a while. But it was still a surprise and she still had no idea what was happening. So it was all good!

Sunday I had a stomach virus which made Church interesting. But we had to go because Sister Surtees was talking in Sacrament Meeting. It was fun sitting in the back row hoping I wasn't going to have to run out at any moment and totally freak her out. Luckily I was ok until Church ended and then I was able to go home and have my sickness get the best of me. It was still a good Sunday though. Sister Surtees gave a wonderful talk and Elder Webb and Jazzlyn (a ward member) did a wonderful musical number (which I'll attach the recording of) It was an arrangement just for Sister Surtees after an experience she had when she was sick and going to the doctors all the time.
Now we plan to go to Olive Garden today to celebrate her goodbye and each as much soup and salad as we can. :) I'm excited and scared to see what this week brings now that I'm not training after all. The list of sisters transferring is nothing any of us expected so I have no idea who is coming to join me.

On to pictures.

So 1273...well surprise! Sister Surtees dyed my hair last Monday! I'm back to being a strawberry blonde :)


1272 is us and Elder Webb and Elder Wilcox. We spend a lot of time around these Elders since we share a meetinghouse and carpool to all meetings and on PDay. They are some good Elders! And luckily they're staying this transfer to keep me sane.


1267... is when Sister Surtees pinched me. And she gave me a heart shaped bruise when she did it!


1253...is when Sister Surtees packed mismatched shoes to change into after zone pday. So she had to wear those the rest of the day we were out. It was hilarious.


love y'all and the changes you're being :)


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

P-day sometimes does mean Play-day—email from 4-16-12

sorry forgot to record again! I'm losing my brain!DSCN1263

We have played and played and played today. So now I am finally getting the time to email. We went and played sports with our zone today and it was so much fun. I love this life.

So my week...well...I can't quite remember. They are whizzing by. We have one family we are working with that I feel like they are family to me. She and I have a sister-like relationship. When I volunteered her to read in Relief Society yesterday she leaned over and whispered in my ear that she was going to undercook my chicken. She's so hilarious. Well her husband has been on and off investigating the Church, but never working with us. Well he has sat in on the last couple of lessons we have had with their son who is turning 8 soon (the bishop asked us to help him prepare for baptism since he didn't grow up in the church) and last night the dad committed to be baptized as well!!!! I couldn't believe it. He is honestly getting into it this time. I am so excited to continue working with them.

We had our zone conference which was just amazing in so many ways. I learned so much from all the people who gave trainings. It just amazes me that 20ish year old young men can grow so much. It really impresses me. President talked a lot about our goal of baptisms for the year. And I just couldn't believe how strong I felt that it is achievable. We have had a slow start on it as a mission. But the Lord can work miracles and we know that anything is possible with His help.

Oh, and we surprised our ward mission leaders wife on Thursday by showing up in our service clothes and asking her to put us to work. She is due... well right now (Sister Surtees saw on fb that she is in the hospital having the baby) and we felt like we needed to serve them for all they do for us. She reluctantly let us in the door at which point we tore through the house and cleaned the whole thing in an hour. We were pretty proud of ourselves.

The craziest part of my week was the phone call I got Saturday night...we were sitting in our office at the end of the night after we had just finished planning our next day. The phone rand and the call was from President Barry, so I freaked out and threw the phone at Sister Surtees to answer. The first thing he did was ask to speak to me. Which only confirmed my fears....I am training. I get to say goodbye to my wonderful seasoned companion and welcome a brand new sister to the mission. I am excited, but terrified. It is such a big responsibility to help a new missionary learn the ropes of the field. I had hoped to spend the mission as a junior companion. But no luck there. I am excited to dig into the training program studies again though and learn with her.

In the Book of Mormon I was reading today in Helaman 5 where Helaman is telling his sons why he named them what he did and he explained how he gave them the namesakes that he did so that they would try to live up to the reputations of those who they were named after. It had me pondering a lot how I live up to the name I have and the people who went before. It gave me a lot to think about and what I can do better at.

Well, it's spring cleaning time? What changes are you going to make(be)?

I sure do love y'all!


Sister McCracken

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Easter—email from 04-09-12


Well...wow. This week has been a crazy week. It hasn't felt like we worked in our area much...oh yeah...because we didn't. We had 5 different doctors appointments to go to for Sister Surtees. And then two trade offs in other areas. Oh and meetings and church. So we got to work together in our area for...well...Thursday evening? hahaha WOW!!!! But I love it. We have had some unique experiences through all of it. Sister Surtees Dr's appointment Monday was one of those. The nurse who was taking care of her noticed her nametag and said "I was raised in that Church." And so we asked a few questions and then it went back to medical stuff. Then as she walked out to get the Dr for his part she said "you're being here makes me feel like I need to go back." Then when she came back later and told Sister Surtees the tests she would be doing this week it scared Sister Surtees a little and she started to cry some. And that's when the dear nurse started to cry too. So they had a spiritual bonding moment and talked about what had her scared. And Sister Surtees told her "This is why we had to come all the way to Orange Park" Because for some mysterious reason even though there are specialists in Beaches we got sent to Orange Park 45 minutes away. And the nurse started to cry again and say " I know God sent you here for a reason." So we hope that we can help her go back to Church and begin feeling the blessings from that again. She was so sweet!

In all of our running around we still got a lot done. This biggest moment of the week was Jordan and Kiara's baptism. Missionaries have been working with the family since Halloween and I've been working with them since I got here in December. I feel like their my own family. So watching the two of them be baptized together yesterday was a huge moment for us and I was so happy to see this family starting the path. The sad part of all of it though is this...Kaloni their dad got sent out to sea the day before the baptism. His ship got called up for duty ahead of time and he got sent out for a while. But they still really wanted to go through with the baptism on Easter Sunday. So the Bishop baptized them instead. It was such a wonderful day! And the Elders that we share a building with had a baptism too! So it was a baptism filled day! I love days like that!

Then the Relief Society president called us in the afternoon and asked who we were going to for Easter Dinner...Sister Surtees sheepishly replied that no one had invited us. Sister Alexander said "Thank the Spirit for prompting me to call you then!" And they invited us to join them in the family Easter Dinner. They live in a country and yacht club here. I was BLOWN AWAY by the sizes on the houses and the yachts everyone had! Then we got to their house and we were taken into a fancy dining room with china and silver and goblets. I felt like a little kid in a palace and felt sooooo awkward. They looked like a Harvard scholars type family and we didn't know what to expect. But when the joke "What do you call ten rabbits walking backwards? ..... a receding hairline!" was told, we knew we would be comfortable. They were hilarious and fun to be with. I am so grateful she called us and fed us!

Oh, and I talked in sacrament meeting yesterday. They asked me to talk on the true meaning of Easter. It was a lot of pressure. But I had a really good week studying the history of Easter and the week of Christ's atonement and it's relation to the Passover. It was mind blowing!
Wow...this has gotten long...here are the pictures from the baptism!

The first two are Bishop Harding, Jordan, Kiara, and us! YAY!



Oh and we taught a boy the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Easter Eggs this week! It was so much fun! I wrote the basic principles of the gospel on the eggs in white crayon and then we put them in the dye and pulled them out as we taught each principle. So here's some pictures from that activity.




Oh... and the eggs around my neck...well...I was bored!

I love y'all! Keep up the change! It's a painful process sometimes but how do we expect our lives to get better unless we be the change once in a while?


Sister McCracken

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Conference Weekend—email from 04-02-12

Woooh!!! Today has been a crazy day. So once again, y'all are getting a shorty because I still have to write the mission president. We've been at labs and doctors offices all morning for Sister Surtees. She's not dying, I promise, she just hasn't been at the top of her game the last few weeks and the mission doctors treatments didn't work so he referred her to a specialist. So we have been running a million miles an hour even though all she is supposed to be doing is rest. AAAHHH!!! I'm trying to hurry so I can get her home to rest though.

We have had a pretty average week as far as missionary work goes. We had a trade-off at the end of the week, so we got double the work done in our area for two days. And then of course there was conference! Wow, I learned so much from it all. I just love hearing them speak. Watching the MTC choir made us laugh. They all looked so young and rested (haha). We just laughed to ourselves and said they have no idea what the next 18 months to 2 years has in store for them. They were definitely blessed to be in the presence of the Prophet. 

I don't have any pictures to send from this last week. Sorry about that. I'll work on it! 

I hope as Easter comes that we can all remember the change that Jesus Christ was for all mankind. He set the example, saved our souls, and made it possible for us to live again. He is the ultimate change maker! Let's try to be like Him.


Sister McCracken

ps tell President Clark I say HI! next time you see him. And I will for sure talk to Brother Parkinson for you Dad!