Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A missionary’s superbowl—email from 07-23-12



This last week was my own personal superbowl!!! Clay was baptized! After almost 4 long months of teaching him and 7 months of working with his family, he was baptized. And it was ALLLLLL worth the wait. And let me tell you why. Part of my decision to go on my mission had to deal with my patriarchal blessing and what it says about my mission in that. Because of it I knew there were specific people here I was meant to find. Part way into teaching Clay I realized that he was one of them. Ever since the beginning I've felt like I've known him a lot longer. He felt like a brother to me. And then one night after he had lost a lot of ground on his progression, we were having a "are we done here?" conversation. Poor Sister Heckel didn't know what to do or say since she was a new missionary, so it was mostly a back and forth with Clay and I. At one point my heart was just breaking because I have seen the potential he has and I KNEW he was going to eventually accept this gospel if Satan wouldn't just let go of him. I got really emotional at one point and said "I am not giving up on you! I will fight for you for every day of the rest of my life if I have to! I knew you once before and I promised you I would bring you the gospel and help you change." He got quiet for a minute and then said "I believe that too." And that's when the fight for his soul really got hot. He realized what changes he really needed to make and how very crucial it was to not waste another minute. Thank you Holy Ghost!!!! There is no way he would have grown the way he has over the last several months without it. And Thursday night he was baptized!!!! He was baptized by our old bishop/his Navy chaplain. Bishop Harding is the one who met him and Mariah year ago and after discovering she was LDS helped her get active again and then has helped us every step of the way in helping Clay along his path. Watching his be baptized and then confirmed in Church on Sunday was like getting my own Superbowl ring. I fought the good fight and didn't let Satan win and brought one more soul into the Kingdom of God. What is better than that? I submit, nothing.

The rest of our week was amazing as well. The sister we found last week came to church with her daughter yesterday and her daughter just loved primary and I think our sister enjoyed being in church again. I just love seeing the light of the gospel bring hope and joy to people who didn't have it before!


I am so excited to hear that so many young men from my homeward are going on missions! It is the best choice they can make to help their lives and the lives of so many other precious souls. These people are our family and I really feel it's our duty to do whatever we have to to help them.

I love you all!

After spending all these months working with Clay and his family I can tell you that change is a slow process. But when our heart is truly affected and we become a new person it is so worth it! I love change! I hope y'all do too!


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Paradise—email from 07-16-12


It is a beautiful day in the FJM!!! Actually, every day is a beautiful day here. People say your mission feels like paradise and I strongly believe that. I love it here!

We have had a busy busy week! We are just sprinting our faces off! And I love it! We are so exhausted all the time. But so much is being achieved! Our biggest miracle is that Clay is getting baptized on Thursday night!!!! :D You have no idea how much joy this brings me. The kids have taken to praying for it lately. We ask them to pray and the first thing they say after "dear Heavenly Father" is "Please bless that dad will get baptized"! WOW!!! The strength of faith of these children is amazing! It just melts my heart to see the blessings that are coming into these three boys lives alone! They have a new dad and they love him! This is what the gospel does. This is the Superbowl in my world! And I am so excited! We have success awaiting us!

We have just had an amazing week finding new people. I can bear a strong testimony of the power of the Spirit to guide a person. We were out tracting last night and the area we were in was pretty dead, so I was ready to head to the car. Then Sister Heckel said she wanted to go the the neighborhood ahead of us, so I agreed (while disheartened haha) and she said we needed to turn down the first street we crossed with. Well, nobody was outside which meant more tracting...yay!...As we walked down the street trying to decide which door to knock a children's bike caught my eye in a driveway and I though "hey, a kid lives there, that will work for a eternal family approach" And as we walked up I could tell it was a single mom and a child because of the way the truck was decorated and there was only one bike. We knocked the door, talked with her, offered a copy of the book of Mormon and that's when she told us she was already a member! She just hasn't gone to church since her teen years. She let us in and I saw the Second Coming painting of Christ on the wall and smiled ("that's mormon artwork!" is what crossed my mind) We talked with her for a while and we prayed with her and for all the struggles she has in life and she's letting us come back thursday! I'm so excited! The Spirt got us on the street through Sister Heckel and it got me to pick the house. I LOVE THE SPIRIT!!!!

All in all, it's been a great week. Transfers are tomorrow, but luckily we are unaffected. Yay us!


love y'all.

Remember...I love change!!!! :D


Sister McCracken

p.s. Wow will never cease to amaze me how we have to overkill everything when it comes to waste. Glad it's not in the pond though! Also glad I didn't have to do the work to figure that out this summer. :)DSCN1492

oh and I was not on sand when I took those pictures! So I'm safe! ;)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oops…—email from 07-09-12


I hope y'all had a happy fourth! We had a wonderful day! The ward had a pancake breakfast and a flag raising. It was really fun. And Elder Draper came in his dress uniform covered in his "fruit salad" as Sister Draper likes to refer to his ribbons. It was really inspiring.

The rest of the week was just really good and we really achieved a lot with people. So when I first got here there was a young couple we were teaching that were living together and not married and she was not a member. They were doing great and then just got really hard to catch and weren't keeping commitments. So we dropped teaching them. Out of the blue last Monday afternoon she called us and asked if we were having our Wednesday night class that we teach at the church. I was shocked and didn't think they would really come! And they did! She is about 5 months pregnant and they have decided they need to raise their child in the church. So we committed them to get married!!! (I know, we usually work on baptism, but hey, you roll with the punches!) So we will be having a wedding in the next month and she wants to be baptized! So we will be doing that soon after as well! It is so exciting! It is crazy how the Lord truly blesses us when we just keep working and looking for those who are ready to hear the gospel.

So, the other fun part of Monday was bowling...We had a grand time! We went as a district so there were 6 Elders and us two Sisters. but oh boy it was fun! We all weren't doing well so we all just decided to start doing crazy things...And that's when I got stupid. I always tell people the reason I don't participate in sports is because I'd hurt myself. Well that day proved it! I decided that I would put my ball on the line, and then run and dive and push it off. I knew that diving on my stomach was more than I could muster my courage for, but I could slide on my knees like on all those fabulous 80s movies full of dancing...Well, all I really did was hit hard and skid since I was in jeans...Patrick Swayze cheated by wearing slick pants. And in the following days my knee started to really hurt. It doesn't seem like any serious damage is done. But if I sit for a while and then get up my knee gives out. So I am in a brace for now while it recovers. I feel silly. But now I have evidence that sports are not for me!

I don't know how the order of the pictures came out is of Elder and Sister Draper and us on the fourth of July. Another is of the bowling alley, and the others are all cool pictures of my brace. yay me!






So my advice is for you to get silly and have fun...just try not to hurt yourself like I did. Too many people are becoming stuffed shirts and need to have fun with life. "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured" Gordon B. Hinckley. Be the change by laughing a little more.

love y'all!

Sister McCracken

Oh the weather outside is. . .–email from 07-02-12

....Well, SOMETHING ELSE!!! First it's pouring for days and it takes everything we've got to stay at just the damp level...and then it swings to scorcher days where we were all feeling signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion regardless of our efforts to stay cool and hyrdated. Something that I have learned is that nothing stops the work of the Lord! We were out driving and walking in all of that insane weather! The missionaries on the west side of the mission ended up in a Red Cross Shelter for a few days since they were under water out there. It is crazy. We got loads of water here and the storm was on the other side of the state! It's hard since the ground is so saturated from the last storm though, the water has no real place to go! So yes, lots of flooding! We are hearing hilarious stories from all over the mission. Our stories just include not being dry for 4 days. :D

The week has been crazy for teaching because of that. Nobody is outside when it's pouring or in the 100s. So we weren't able to contact much and then it was just hard to get appointments too. But that's ok.

We had a fun meeting this week where we got together with some of the missionaries that came out with Sister Heckel and got trained by President and Sister Barry. That's when Sister Heckel realized I was the cool trainer. :) I laugh...the others apparently don't... :\ Haha that's just them though. We just laugh all the time together. Sister Draper (one of the senior missionaries in our ward) said we redefine the term "sisters" because we just act like sisters. But it's true. We just have so much fun together! Who said working for the Lord had to be boring?! Not us! It's hard to tell people this gospel has brought us the most joy in our lives if we are saying it with a somber voice. Instead we say it we a smile and a twinkle in our eye. :)

I'm glad to hear that mom had such a fun birthday party!!! What's the big plans for next year?! That's hard to top! Good to hear that all my letters there made it safe! I love y'all so much and those better still be on your fridges when I can see them next year! :)

We are going bowling today as a district! It should be exciting. Sister Heckel and I are still trying to decide what to wear. There's no reason the Elders shouldn't wear their dress clothes...but we feel awkward bowling in we are still deciding. I guess you'll find out from the pictures next week!

The things you learn as a missionary—email from 06-25-12

Oh the joys of Florida. Another tropical storm is slamming into Florida right now. But luckily it's on the gulf coast side, so we are protected! It's just bunches and bunches of rain...and bunches more...It poured all night last night. But cleared up just in time for today! YAY!

This past week is hard for me to remember. We had a trade off so we got to have extra sisters here which is always a good time. We found some new people to teach, so that was a thrill! Oh, and Sister Barry (the mission president's wife) decided out of the blue to come and work with us on Thursday night. So I just felt like a science experiment all week between our Sister Leader working with/observing us and then Sister Barry doing the same thing the next day! But it was really fun. She picked us up where we were at at 5 pm and then just worked until 9 with us. We had no scheduled appointments..bummer. We asked every single person we were working with and all of them couldn't meet for some reason or another. So we had to just fly by the seat of our pants (and the guidance of the Spirit) and see what we could do. And it was so much fun! Sister Barry just loves walking around and street contacting people and it was a cool evening so lots of people were outside, so I got lots of practice doing it with her. Poor Sister Heckel was in shock by the end of the night. It was a lot for her to watch someone as powerful as Sister Barry teaching (I was just basically trying to keep up ;) ) But we both learned a lot. And it made me feel good, because I was keeping up better than I thought. I think it's a little unfair though because she's had almost 2 years in the field now so she's a lot farther ahead! haha

I learned that I am easily at risk for dehydration. I finally put two and two together yesterday as I sat in Church with my migraine that never seems to end, it's usually just in the background but hits full force during Church and when I wake up in the morning. And I finally realized that's because those are the two times a day I'm not taking drinks ALL the time! And my first sign of dehydration is apparently migraines. Luckily I had a ward member notice it and come to my rescue with fishy crackers so I could get some salt in my system and then dragged me to the water fountain and made me drink like crazy. She teased that she is going to start keeping gatorade at her house and bringing it to church so I don't let it happen again. I LOVE these people. They are so good to me.

The first two pics are of me and my hump day camel...I can't believe I am already over half way done. It makes me cry a little. You can see how angry I am to see the little camel. He's cute, but he shouldn't come for another...year or my opinion.



This is Pontiac. A kitten at a house we teach. It was playing with Sister Heckel on her lap, and then suddenly fell asleep in that pose... and stayed dead asleep. We all were messing with it and it never moved.





The last two were my free frosty...Wendy's sells key tags for a dollar and with that key tag you get a free jr frosty all year long with each purchase...I discovered how very small a junior frosty is...It's not much bigger than the key tag!!!



I hope y'all are having a great summer back there. It can get miserable at times and people keep reminding me it doesn't get "hot" until august. So if I stop emailing in's because I'm dead....hahaha kidding!

Go change it up today and do something silly that you normally wouldn't do!


Sister McCracken

It’s not officially Summer yet?!?!- email from 06-18-12

So the other day someone pointed out to me the fact that it's not actually summer yet...And I cried inside a little....Cool days to me are now days that are in the 70s with high humidity. Normal days are in the 80s or 90s with high humidity. And the fearful days (that I have not yet experienced) are the 100s days with 100% humidity. Apparently that comes in August or September?!?! I'm scared! I am just very happy to be near the beach for June through August at least because the sea breeze has become my saving grace.

This week has been a week to remember. So many hilarious, sad, exciting, mindblowing, and freaky moments. And then I realized... that's just the way missionary work is! AAAH!!! hahaha I love it. We really sprinted hard, to the point where Sister Heckel is dozing off everywhere if I give her a minute to sit. So I think I have successfully broken her into the mission. :) We have so much fun together and just laugh all the time. Early in the week I forgot she was new to the climate and had planned that we would be walking to all the places we had planned from noon to three that day. It was a ridiculously hot day with high humidity. At one point I looked over and saw her very red face covered in sweat and thought "Oh poo! She's just come from Utah! I'm going to kill her!" So we hurried ahead on our schedule to someone I knew would be home so I could get her indoors and cooling off. I'm trying to be more aware of that now and trying not to kill her.

We are having just a grand ole time here in Atlantic Beach though. We are still working with a lot of the same people, but have some goals and plans to try to start working with some other people we know to help them come back to church.

On another thought. I would like to share something the Spirit taught me a few months ago and that I shared with my companion yesterday that has already just revolutionized her. It deals with the example Christ sets for us. He is perfect in every way, so he's a pretty good bench mark right? Well one experience that I have studied from a new perspective is this...When Christ was in Gethsemanet the mob came for Him. And when he saw them He simply said "Whom seekest ye?" He obviously knew who they were there for, but He was proving a point. They replied sheepishly "Jesus of Nazareth" At which He promptly replied "I am he." Ok, a mob armed to the teeth comes for Him and He coolly and immediately replies "I am he." It scared them! The account says they fell backward! He again asked "Whom seekest ye?" And they slowly again responded "Jesus of Nazareth." And He immediately once again "I am he." This account came into a whole new light for me along with His entire life when I was studying humility one day. If He is the perfect example, He should be humble right? HE IS!!!! He was completely humble! Yet He never backed down from His claim of divinity and He never wavered when asked to perform miracles. He had complete and utter confidence that He could do anything! And He had complete confidence in who He was. How can He do that and be humble though? And this is where my brain exploded! He always always always gave the glory to God for everything He was and did! He never took the credit for Himself, he always said "Glory be to my Father". And that my friends and family is true humility. Being completely confident in the fact that we can do ANYTHING. We are of a divine heritage and because of that we have infinite potential. We should never waver in our confidence! We should always be able to say "I am He!" (or she) when the time comes! And we truly still are humble as long as we realize that every gift, talent, ability, and experience we have is given to us by our Father. When we truly know that, we will never waver!

Sorry for the ramble. But that realization has strengthened me so much over the past few months and I have felt more strong and empowered and capable than ever in my life. So I wanted to share that with y'all!

Remember, life is about progression, not just just hitting our "prime" or "peak", so continually look inward and see what else you desire to be or achieve, and go be the change!

love y'all!

Sister McCracken