Monday, July 15, 2013

Murphy’s Law—email from 07-15-13

definition: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. 

Today being my last regular P-day we planned to get everything done quick in the morning and then go to a park/playground with the elders and play sports outside and stuff. So what happens? Event 1: Lightning storm in Blackshear so the librarians boot us off the computers 2. Rainstorm in Waycross so going to the park is no longer an option. I almost started crying at one point because every plan we've set today keeps going wrong. ugh... 

But anyway! We had a great week! We found 2 new investigators! Yay! One of them is another unbaptized child!!! The family has been reactivated for a while and the Bishop talked to them and said that they need to get their 9 year old baptized. So they had us over and we have started teaching him. Who knew that I would spend my entire mission teaching children. Perhaps this is a sign? Maybe I'll get to be in Primary for the rest of forever?

Sister Divis was called as a trainer so we get to go to Jacksonville this week for her to get training for that. I am excited to see good ol' JAX and have some fun down there. And by fun I mean sit in a church and listen to trainings and then drive home. Yippee!!! haha

And yea, that's it! that's the week!

I've been forced to embrace the coming changes for me and it's not fun when every day someone is asking if I am excited to go home. Not especially. But I am sure excited to see you people!!! I think I am just getting to practice my preaching of change every day of my mission. But I love it. 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Monday, July 8, 2013

‘Merica—email from 07-08-13

Celebrating the 4th in the south is fun!!! I had a steak that was bigger than my head for supper that day! The only bummer was the pouring rain in the afternoon and evening.

The weeks are just disappearing out from under me now. We had zone meeting on Wednesday and met the mission president. They gave a little presentation on themselves so that we could get to know more about them. They are a lot of fun. You can definitely tell they just came from a singles ward. They kept giving us dating and future marriage advice.hahaha Not quite the same venue... But then he gave us further information on the upcoming changes in missionary work. OH boy are things about to change in a big way. Tracting is being phased out (about time!!!) and will now be replaced with online work, which will be accomplished by...drumroll...Every companionship of missionaries having a tablet and a smartphone!!!! WHAT??!?!?! So exciting!!! Since our mission is already online we will be transitioning to technology in the coming months. This now means there are no boundaries on who we teach, if someone has a friend or family member that lives in Virginia, Germany, California, whatever, we can now teach them via Skype and once they are progressing we will transition them to their local missionaries. It is going to be crazy! Sadly none of these changes will happen soon enough for me. But that's ok. Tomorrow we have one on one interviews with the mission president, I am excited for a chance to get to know him before he has to decide whether I was an honorable missionary haha

We have set a goal for this week and next to knock every door on our roster and try to make contact with every person who has ever been a member that lives inside our boundaries. It is going to be 2 long hard weeks, but we are really excited to do it!

We are doing our darndest to find people to teach and I am starting to see some glimmers of hope with the ward members as far as getting their help in sharing the gospel is concerned. Just like all my other areas, it gets going just before/after I leave. There's a lesson to be learned here I think. I've realized that this is the Lord's great plan and we each play a different part at a different time. So we mustn't be discouraged when it seems like our part is nothing, because there are greater things at play that we cannot see.

Missionary work is undergoing some of the most revolutionary changes ever and I am proud to say that I was one of the missionaries that was being the change that showed it was possible to do it. You never know what you being the change can do to help others.

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Got Mud?—email from 07-01-13

It has been a muddy and fun week! It has been raining here far far far more then normal this year. It has rained almost every day for the past few weeks. And the area was in a drought until this year. Because of that, the land soaked it up for the first bit, but then had nothing to do with it after that. So many a yard has deep standing water now. And that just can't do! Luckily one of the members we know is friends with a lot of older people that can't deflood themselves. So we got hired as the yard brigade for the week. It was so much fun! Check out the many pictures I've been tagged in on Facebook this last week and you'll see the mucky fun we had. One of the yards had a sidewalk in the middle that was stopping us from being able to drain the middle of the yard. But they said it used to have a little culvert under it that water drained through. So I reached down into the dark foreboding water to find that culvert. I found what felt like was possibly it and started to dig it out, and dig, and dig, and dig, I finally ended up on my stomach with my arm in all the way up to my shoulder digging mud out of this culvert. And then had to go to the other side of the culvert and repeat. And no luck! It still wasn't open. So after many different tricks we got water flowing through and all was well. But here is where the story goes sour...I learned a hard lesson. Mosquitoes here are the size of small birds. The bite even through your clothes, and especially through sweat pants...and when you are laying on your stomach there is some juicy flesh available...Yes...I got a mosquito bite...on my bum...ahahahaha boy has that been fun! Mosquitoes here are mean!!! But I earned major points with the men-folk with how dirty and into the work I got. I proved that us women folk really can work.

Saturday we went on a blitz of the 2nd ward and were visiting less-active members and inviting them to church. We each got split off with a member and started our search for these people. I thought I may die because of my partner's crazy driving. But to my surprise, I survived. We had a somewhat amusing experience at one home though. He was up on the roof working when we pulled up, so we just yelled up from the yard. After about 5 minutes of conversation he asked where I was from because I didn't sound like a Yankee. Much to his surprise I responded Idaho. Apparently when I get around all southern speakers I get sucked into their way of talkin. oh no!!! But luckily when I get around you yank's I can here myself speaking normally.

Tonight we are teaching at the Ward FHE. I am really excited. They gather on the first Monday of every month and have an FHE as a ward to give an example of what to do the rest of the month. It's a big pot luck dinner at a member's house and just a fun time. We are teaching on how to be a Mormon online and share your testimony through social media without ramming it down our friend's throats. I am really excited to teach it.

Yesterday we taught the combined lesson for the Young Men and Young Women on missionary work and the priesthood. It was a combined effort of Elders and Sisters so that they could get all the perspectives. Sister Divis and Elder Behymer shared why they chose to serve missions, Elder Burgan shared how his perspective of what missionary work was changed from before to now (being out 9 weeks), And I shared how my mission has changed me/what I've learned since I'm at the end. Then we opened up to questions and answers on anything they wanted. The questions were hilarious. The one that kept coming up was but what about missing out on these books, movies, friends, college, etc. Finally after that spinning around a bunch and them not taking our answers I responded with "Yeah, we miss out. My boyfriend got married while I was on my mission." All their jaws dropped, I smiled and said "yeah, life goes on." It gave us a whole new level of street cred with the youth. It was worth it.

Better get going! We have a fun shopping day ahead. I need new tennies for the family fun run. Mine were soaked in mud water for a week and aren't quite the same anymore.

I'm in the last weeks and changes that need to be made are still slapping me in the face, so my advice to you is that it's never to late to start. Just start!

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time to Go To Work—email from 06-24-2013

Dearest Fans, :)

Glad to hear that so many of you watched the broadcast last night. It was exciting and inspiring. Something that was slightly surprising to us though is that there is no real changes for us. The goal last night was a training to teach us all how to apply what is already written in the Handbook. We are most excited to help members live up to the expectations that were given them. A lot is riding on you regular folk now. :)


(Pictures from St. Mary’s, Georgia)

Oh I am just so happy for Karen and Pamela and that they were able to attend the temple. I cannot wait to see them and congratulate them in person.


We have had a great week. We have been doing a lot of service here to try and soften up people's hearts. Mostly it's been for members of the church, but on Tuesday we got to go help an older couple that is lifelong friends with a member family that we work with. It was basically simple housework of dusting, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming. But they appreciated it so much and she had a big spaghetti dinner to reward us at the end. :) I've learned the value of service though because it gave us opportunities to talk about our work and why we do it. Step by step hearts are being softened and people are getting more open to talking to us.


The ward is short on people who can play the piano and luckily Sister Divis plays!!! So we spent yesterday in primary with her playing the songs so the chorister could actually be the chorister. They called one person to be both the pianist and chorister for the primary here. Try wrapping your brain around how that is supposed to work. :) It was a fun change of pace to be there listening to the kids sing.


well, I'm still slowly working on my change of becoming a runner... and believe me progress is slow...I envy people who can just decide to pick up running and after a month can run miles on end. My limited time and weak body just aren't working with me on that goal. But that's ok. Change is slow, and as long as we are improving we will get where we want to go.

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's the Final Countdown

How many of you just had that song go through your head? I did...Too many years of pep band...haha

So, wow! Last week just flew by!!! I got Sister Divis early Wednesday morning and then we headed off to Girls Camp to teach. It was really fun. The most hilarious part was at the end. We were leaving and the director offered to show us the whole camp since we had just seen the one building we were in. Well, the had this giant inflatable that was a water slide. We went and stood at the bottom to watch the girls come down it, (feeling very envious) and not noticing the ground we were on was very wet....Then suddenly as one girl hit the small pool of water at the bottom, we understood. We were both soaked head to toe. It was hilarious, and I thought the girl who splashed us was going to die. She was so apologetic and thought somone was going to tan her hide. Instead we just stood there laughing and said "Do it again!!!!" You have to realize that with the heat index it was over 100 degrees and the water felt quite nice. :) 

The rest of the week just flew by. We ended up going back to Girls Camp Thursday evening for testimony night and it was so wonderful. I couldn't believe the difference we made with those girls. The leaders just kept saying "you have NO idea what you are doing for these girls." I hope they can make it a yearly tradition. I also said I wouldn't be opposed to being a leader here next year. ;) 

We did more service for Brother and Sister Crawford. Saturday we helped put up a fen next to the chicken coop so that the chickens can come out and wander but not worry about being eaten. 

I also got to save the most adorable little baby quail in their barn wendesday night. I named him Johnny. He was probably only a day or so old. We put him in a box outside hoping his mom would save him. He was gone the next morning. So I'm praying that it was his mom that saved him. haha

Yesterday was a fun Father's Day. Sister Divis and I got to really put our confidence to the test. Here's how. Sister Beazer was asked a few weeks ago to sing in sacrament meeting because she has the most amazing soprano voice. Well...she got transferred Wednesday. And Wednesday evening the person coordinating called to ask if everything was sorted!?!?! And she then said? Well, how are you going to fill that spot?! I wanted to say "that's your job!!!" But instead I turned Sister Divis and said "Do you sing?" She gave me the gesture of "sort of" and I said  "We will be doing a duet!" So with only a handful of days to practice and learn the piece while being missionaries we got to sing in sacrament meeting. AAAAHHH!!!! Luckily the Lord made it sound better than I thought it would be. Happy Day! Now let's hope I never do anything like that again....

We are gearing up for an exciting 6 weeks and Sister Divis has lots of amazing ideas for us to find me to teach and work with. I am so excited!!! 

Sometimes, we want someone to just change and do it now!!! But with this human experience we are taught to take things a bit slower and that change comes with time and patience. So give yourself and everyone else and break! Change will come with time!!!

love y'all,
Sister McCracken

On the road again!--email from 06-11-03

Hi all! I'm on the road as well! We are headed to st Mary's Georgia to a submarine museum. We had transfer calls last night and I had reached the point that I figured we were both staying. And then surprise! Sister Beazer is getting transferred! We are in shock. She is headed to palatka Florida. I am getting a sister that came out with sister Beazer. There wasn't enough sisters to train, so she was training herself along with another sister. So I will be second half training her. How wild is that? When I didn't get called to train again I didn't expect to have any big changes. But here we go! I am real excited to be staying here in blackshear for my last month. I love it too much. 

Tomorrow we have a fun adventure ahead of us. We were asked to attend girls camp for the day and teach a workshop tomorrow. And even better they said we could teach on whatever we want. As I've studied and pondered I have had lots of different ideas but came to this. Esther! The youth theme this year is Stand in Holy Places. So we are going to discuss the example of standing firm that Esther gave us. It was a really amazing example. I am excited to spend a day in the wilderness of Georgia with a bunch of wild teenage girls.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So close to my first black eye—email from 06-03-2013

Dear Familia,


Well, last week was a fun adventure. St Augustine wasn't nearly as historic as we had expected. So we ended up just trying some food at the eateries and then went to Jacksonville to shop. :)

DSCN0255(Me eating key lime pie dipped in white chocolate on a stick. it's a southern thing.)

This week has been a great one. We have had a lot of turn arounds with things and I just feel like things are about to get really good here. We have found our very first person to teach finally so that was a huge milestone. She is a real sweet woman and I am excited to help her come closer to Christ.

I think the biggest excitement though was yesterday morning. It was during personal studies and I decided I needed a drink so I was standing in the doorway of our study room and realized I didn't need the Ensign Magazine I was holding. So I squatted to put it down and keep it on the page I wanted. I then started to stand up, turn, and walk all at once and was brought to an immediate halt when I felt and heard a crushing of my nose. I was on the floor, holding my faces and tears streaming immediately. I have never had tears just come on there own because of an instant of pain but it happened this time!!! I sat there holding my face trying to decide if my nose was broken. I wasn't bleeding, it wasn't swelling really fast, and it felt straight. I finally got up the courage to check in a mirror and Hallelujah! My nose didn't look broken, it just felt like had been hit with a bat. So I ended up calling Sister Barry just in case and turns out all is ok. Everyone expects me to get a gnarly black eye, but nothing has happened so far, so I don't expect it. I just have a really nice scrape across my nose and a lot of pain. yay for ibuprofen. :)

DSCN0282 (1)

Oh, and tell Karen and Pamela I am so excited! There is a girl that just got her mission call Saturday and is hoping to go through the temple that same day. So I definitely will have the Temple on my mind that day.

And to Mom and Dad, have fun in Kansas, and please don't go to Oz. I would prefer to have parents to come home to in July. :)

Oh and Dad, it's more rural than you think. We spend half of our time on dirt roads searching for peoples houses. :)

well, change comes in a lot of different packages, but as long as we have our eye on improvement, change is happening.

love y'all!

Sister McCracken


(me and Sister Barry)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It’s a sunny day! email from 05-27-13


Well, sorry this is going to be brief. We are going to Saint Augustine with a member today. It's just outside of Jacksonville. Yes, I lived in Jax for over a year, and moved to Georgia and NOW I am going to see this place. Haha

We had our baptism yesterday! The two girls got baptized without a hitch! The family asked me to speak at the baptism, so that was a fun privilege. It made me laugh though, because in the last week I have: talked in sacrament, taught young women's, talked at zone conference, and talked at a baptism. I should start charging people. No, just kidding, because then I would probably get crappy at what I do. So I'll stick with the charge of free. 

Well, I am off to play! I love you! 


Love y'all! 

Sister McCracken

Monday, May 20, 2013

summer lovin’ -- email from 05-20-2013

It got real warm here last week! It was up into the 90s the latter part of the week, which of course was the days we planned to walk around. :) Good thing I brought lots of outfit changes. ;) 

Oh boy has it been a week. We started it out working to get the two young girls we are working with ready to be baptized. That was our sole focus. They had their interviews and everything was on the homestretch. I spent time Friday making a program for the baptism and getting all the people we needed to help. Saturday came and we got to go to a missionaries farewell party at the church. And then the unthinkable happened...The little girls great grandma came up to me and said "The baptism is cancelled." My heart fell to the floor. Her parents had been at the Tough Mudder race in St Augustine that day. It's a huge race that happens all over the country that is an obstacle course. At one point they were moving some logs I guess and the people in front of them threw down a log that hit and flipped up another log into the face of these girls mom... ugh... The same tooth I broke in half as a child, well hers is back a quarter inch and no longer has any gums holding it in. So we very definitely had to cancel the baptism. But we are hoping to be able to have it this coming Sunday. Pray no one else gets hit in the face with a log. :)

We also met the sweetest mama every. We call her Miss Betty and she is amazing! She joined the church 20 years ago but recently went less active because of life. The first time we went by just to find out if she still lived there she was just starting to make dinner. She was doin fried fish. I was really intrigued and asked if we could just watch, and suddenly she said she would send some fish with us! So she fried a few fish for us and boxed them up. WOW! How kind is that?!?! And we have gone for a few visits since then and she is just so sweet. She is letting us come over this week to plant some flowers for her. I am so excited. And she said she'll teach me how to do some of her delicious southern recipes. Yay!

We have just been having a great week getting around and getting to know the people here. We also discovered a local dive that is delicious! It's so great! They have they best food! And it's super cheap. So we may be there to eat a lot. :) and try and convert them! haha 

Well, that's all I can think of! love you crazy folks! 

So change... I have been completely revolutionizing the way I see and do the work since I moved to the country. And the other day my companion said "you don't like change do you?" Well, no not really. But I am working to LOVE IT! :)

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

we get to go play with these today! yay for hangin out on people's giant properties! :)



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I often go walking. . . email from 05-13-13

on country roads!!! Trick's on you to all those people who thought I would say "meadows of clover". Who does that anyway??? The primary kids sang that yesterday and I thought, do you even know what those are? Because I think your tune would go a little different if you did. :)

Well Happy Mother's Day to everyone I didn't get to say it to yesterday. I hope your day was filled with love! We got to teach Relief Society yesterday and show those sisters oodles of love. It was super fun. 


Last Monday we went to the Okefenokee Swamp Park as I told y'all. And boy was it fun! It's just a giant swamp area and in the middle they have a little gift shop and sign in area that you can then go through to ride a little train around the swamp, or a boat, and go to a little nature presentation on the wildlife here. It was oober fun. All the animals are free and wild just like Yellowstone. So anytime you are near water, which is the whole time, you have to watch to make sure a gator isn't too close! That had me on my toes and nervous part of the time. 



We are getting lost a lot. So that is fun. But hey, you can't find yourself until you're lost right?!

Oh, funny missionary antics. So we share a ward with Elders and one of them is English (as in from Britain). The other night a family had us over and we had grilled pork chops. Halfway through dinner he pipes up "This is delicious steak!" We all busted up laughing and said "That's pork!" And he said "Oh I haven't had either before!" Do they not eat meat over in the good ol' mother country? I guess not. This family is just great though and loves us missionaries. So luckily they are brave enough to let all four of us come teach sometimes. It's been a fun dynamic doing it that way. 

I hope you enjoy all the pics from the Okefenokee adventure!!!


So this week I had a big eye opener in regards to being the change. I thought I had really cured my perfectionism and was doing much better. But after a conversation with the mission president's wife, she said I should look over the perfectionism documents again. And I didn't. And I was amazed to see how bad I was. I realized that I had gotten really complacent on controlling my perfectionism and it had crept back in until it was in full swing again. So my thoughts to you today are this, never stop working on things that you've already changed, because if you aren't careful, they come right back.


love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

in the country again—email from 05-06-13

I think the Lord knew I would need a transition back to country life after serving 14 months in Jacksonville (the largest city in the country). So here I am in Waycross, Georgia. And I actually live in a small town 10 miles out of Waycross. Does that sound familiar or what?! The only difference is the 25 minute drive to the church. 


My gps has saved our bacon out here. How I love modern technology. We were given a partial address and told "off you go!" And I thanked Heavenly Father for the man who invented the gps. And an elder found a smooth trick last transfer that downloads the ward roster onto your gps, so I now have the entire roster at my fingertips and "know" where everyone lives. The only problem is Georgia is not laid out quite how the gps thinks, so it usually just gets us close and we have to hunt from there. Luckily I have 15 months of experience hunting down houses and addresses. Missionaries would make great Private Investigator's. DSCN0086

The ward here just got a new Bishop on Sunday so we arrived in the midst of a big change here, but what better timing right?? The people here are so wonderful and have such thick southern accents I feel just as happy as a clam. I am just so happy I got to come to the true South even if it is just for a short bit of my mission. The people really are sweet and want to do just everything for you. 



And for Mom and Dad, our neighbor that we share the duplex with has two vehicles that will bring you comfort...One is a state trooper car and the other is a Sherriff's K9 unit SUV. So yes, I am well protected. :) DSCN0081


Well, time to go play. We are off to the Okefenokee Swamp today. Look it up. :) 

well, all i have to say about being the change is that it is exhausting, but worthwhile, so keep pushin'  y'all!

love y'all!

Sister McCracken

Thursday, May 2, 2013

oh how struggly was the from April 30

There was a new word coined in our zone... "struggly" to define a scenario that is filled with struggle or whatever really. Boy does that describe my week. We have gotten so many calls saying that "plans have been changed" again and again... Oh my goodness. At one point Sister Barry told us "President and I are depending a lot on you right now." AAAAAHHH!!! I don't want to be depended upon! Save me! But luckily we are both pretty strong and kept each other going. We were dead tired every night as we collapsed into our beds. But that was a fun adventure, we live on the third floor and have a screened in patio so we drug our beds onto the patio and slept out there all week. camping!!!
Last night we had the mission conference call for transfers!!! I am headed to waycross, georgia!!! The ward there is bigger than the entire stake I am in now. Oh goodness. We will be sharing it with Elders though so that will save us. We drive out there tomorrow night and will hit the ground running. I can't wait to tell my new companion she gets to help open an area to sisters. Speaking of new missionaries, for all who have asked, we are getting 26 new missonaries this week. We traditionally get between 3 and 10. And 14 of those are sisters!!!! It is insane! Only one sister companionship was not affected by this transfer!
I just want to tell you all how much I know the priesthood is real. I was having a horrible weekend with my depression which summed into a complete shutdown Sunday afternoon. My poor companion just let me sleep for 2 1/2 hours and cleaned. At that point I knew I needed an intervention. So we called the Drapers (the senior military missionaries here) and asked if he could give me a blessing because I just wasn't functioning and I needed to get back in the game quick before transfers. And WOW!!!!! The Spirit was so strong and I was given so much comfort and strength. I don't know what I would do without the gospel. As soon as the blessing was over I felt like my old self again and was ready to conquer the world. Because of this experience I know two things: 1. Satan is real. (No other power could drag me to such misery so quickly) 2. Jesus Christ LIVES!!!! (because no power could save me so quickly) And I am so grateful to have the priesthood in my life to bless and strengthen me! I don't know what I would do without it.

Like I said earlier, change has been the word of the week round these parts. And boy has it been fun. I've learned the key to resiliency is being able to change yourself as your situation changes so that you are equipped to handle. Oh change. I just love it!!!
love y'all!
Sister McCracken

Monday, April 22, 2013

change is good, change is great. . . email from 04-22-2013

that has been my motto this week since everything just went CRAZY!!!!! Sister Neibaur's headaches got really bad and the doctors had no answers and medicine didn't help. So President decided it would be best for her to continue to pursue help from home. After a couple hours of phone calls back and forth he finally decided to tell me what he was doing with me. I got put in a trio!!! In my old area! I am back in Atlantic Beach! But here's the catch, we are covering both areas and having to drive back and forth between them every day until transfers on May 1. Talk about crazy! And then on Saturday we got a call that another sister in the mission has to go home for surgery and so Sister Graham (in our trio) is getting sent to Julington Creek today. So we'll be down to 2 missionaries again...covering two areas...CRAZY!!! 

And this is when I discovered the blessing of online missionary work. Because on Saturday when I had intended to go see an investigator in Hendricks, but had to be in Atlantic Beach for some other stuff I was able to teach her via Facebook and still keep in good contact and keep things progressing. It is so amazing!!! Who would have ever thought this day would come where social media could be used as a means to bring people the joy of the Gospel and not just a tool of silliness and time wasting "catapulting birds at walls" as President Uchtdorf said. :) 

I was called to train again this past weekend, you'd think after working a companion to death that they would retire me. But God is having me take another crack at it. Also, in  a new area. Yes, I am ending my mission the way it started. Whitewash training. I just made that realization. Just now. And this is the next thought that came to mind. The Lord is giving me a second chance at something I felt that I had failed at. Wow. GOD IS GOOD!!!! I get an opportunity for redemption. How did I get so lucky?

In a conversation yesterday about how do we help others change without saying straight to their face that they need to improve the good ol' phrase came to mind for me "be the change you wish to see in the world" or others! We can't force anyone to be something we want them to be. That's just not how it works. That's not how the Big Man rolls. :) and I am so happy for that. 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Monday, April 15, 2013

oh how crazy was the morning—email from 04-15-13

We had a fun morning. Sister Neibaur had to get an MRI. And wow did it take forever. Luckily I was a week behind in my journal, so I had plenty to keep me busy while I waited. They turned her into a pin cushion though because they couldn't get a vein to inject the contrast. So she is covered in needle pricks that will soon be bruises. That is going to be fun to try to explain...

We had a great week working in the heat. Jacksonville finally decided to warm up. It was great to not have to wear a sweater everywhere for once. We got to make a few trips to the hospital for different members that were there. It felt like old times at St Luke's with Michelle. :) 

Sunday was probably my favorite day though. We went to a different church...

One of our investigators invited us to come to her church. On the sole purpose of showing us how ridiculous they were in comparison to us. And boy was it crazy. The service started out basically like a concert with all the lights out and the band performing. Then the pastor jumped in and was preaching while the band was still going. I was having a hard time keeping up. He preached for a while, and then it went to a commercial...literally...he walked off the stage and said start the commercial...Then they tried to get us all to tithe. What I did have to commend is that they have a food bank and clothes that they give out after services to anyone in need. I just wasn't expecting rock music. And it wasn't a chapel. It was a room with a stage and chairs set up around it. It was very very different. It's a new age church. There was no communion, hymns, or prayers. Well, there kind of were prayers. Just not in the sense I'm used to. There were a few times the pastor locked eyes on us and I could tell he was confused because there were these two young white girls on the back row. And we both wore white sweaters so our name tags stood out. But he didn't call us out or anything like I thought might happen. So all's well that ends well. :) 

Overall it was just a learning experience. It taught me how much our services can seem foreign and strange to people who have had it one way their whole life. I was glad we were invited. The only bummer is that we had to missed Relief Society yesterday to go do it. :( So I don't know anything about this fantastic lesson that some of you mentioned. 

oh oh oh!!! Someone took us to a Hibachi grill on Saturday!!! Oh my goodness! It was so much fun!!! I got salmon...mmmmm fresh grilled salmon right in front of you face. Delicious. We had such a fun time.

I hope it's been a great week for you! It has been for me. 

I love thinking about change every day. It's such a motivator for me. I was studying patience today and it reference Psalms 46:10... I just smiled when I saw that. Be still and know that I am God. My favorite scripture. I love it! I am working on being the change by improving my patience with God this week. I've got to work on waiting on his timing. how about you?

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What e’er thou art. . . email from 04-08-13

ACT WELL THY PART!!!! Wow did I love that quote! Isn't it amazing how every general conference they know exactly what to say to address all of the needs that we have. I just loved it. We had a lovely weekend. The ward mission leader's wife brought lunch in a crock pot both days to eat between sessions so that we didn't go hungry. It was so much fun to just spend the day at the church.

Last week was a crazy one. We found some new people to teach. Who then promptly told us on the next visit they were no longer interested. Darn. But hey, we are getting the opportunity to meet  ALOT of different people because of it. And I will never regret that. 

The weather is finally warming up. Hopefully it actually holds for a minute. I am tired of cold weather. It has been an unusually long winter here and the temperatures keep dropping randomly for a day at a time. So I am crossing my fingers that April will be a happy warm month in Florida. 

Funny moment of my week. We were doing some service for a person and I was kneeling down on the floor working on putting together a vacuum when suddenly the 4 year old jumped on my back and yelled "giddy up!!!" We all about died laughing. The mom then explained that anytime anyone is kneeling on the floor the little girl thinks it's her chance for a pony ride around the house. So I learned my lesson in watching out where I kneel down. 

Well, my time is up. Sorry it's a short one. Not a lot of news from this week. 

I think my thoughts for change are simple this week. Be the change by just being yourself. You are meant to be exactly who you are. God made you that way and you will help so many people around you just by shining out your own personality. BE THE CHANGE!!!

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

I’m coming home early!!!!!. . . AGAIN! email from 04-01-13

April Fools!!!! I'm not goin' nowhere! I'll ask for an extension if they'll give one. 

It has been a crazy week in the weather portion of our lives. It started out freezing cold and ended with me taking a nap on the couch on the patio during lunch yesterday. It's supposed to stay warm for a bit. I sure hope so. All the up and down with the temperatures got us both sick this week. Luckily I was healthy while she was sick and vice versa so we could take care of each other. 

We had a great Easter week. It was super busy traffic yesterday morning with everyone headed to their churches. It made me giggle. They do have a tradition that I kind of admire though. Starting the first of March all the crosses outside their churches have this big purple scarf thing tied and hanging from the cross. And then on the Friday before Easter it is changed to black to remind us He was in the tomb, and then on Sunday they were all changed to white. To remind us He is risen. It was a nice reminder for me throughout the month and especially the weekend as we drove around town and would see the crosses in front of their churches with those scarf things. I definitely can appreciate that tradition of the South. 

It was a great week regardless of our sicknesses. We still managed to somehow get a lot done. That made me the happiest. We are just happy for the weather to be warmer again so we can get out and walk around and talk to people. And there are actually people to talk to outside now too. Floridians are wussy when it comes to the cold and hide out inside when it gets to chilly for them. Which is anything below 65 degrees...but I can't blame them...because it is pretty cold... haha I know I got no sympathy for that comment.

Anyway, got to get going and buy some delicious groceries! 

Something I have been learning this week that sometimes Being the Change is merely being happy with what you have and not desiring for circumstances to change. It's all a change of mind. 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Monday, March 25, 2013

Another Blustery Week- email from 03-25-13

Florida welcomed spring in with a temperature drop and a whole lot of rain!!! Sister Neibaur and I were so cold on Friday we decided to get hot chocolate at the gas station on our way home. We then checked the car thermometer to see what temperature it really was outside... 63 degrees... Yup, I am officially a Floridian wuss. haha But that's okay. I'll eventually readjust to the west once I'm back...I hope.

I keep hoping all the rain we get will kill the allergens a little bit. But no such luck. So now I just have permanent puffy eyes and a stuffy nose. Even when I am taking allergy medicine. Who knew that Florida would have so much pollen?! It's like it's green year round or something...

The week just kind of disappeared out from under me. I'm trying to remember the highlights for y'all but I'm struggling. Here's a funny highlight though. Saturday was our district blitz. It's where all the missionaries in the district go to one companionships area and work in their area for a couple hours to help them out. We have been going to the names of all the people on the records that they don't know anything about to figure out if they even still live there. Well, it was pouring down rain on Saturday. I finally understand the phrase "sheets of rain" because it looks like it literally has these sheets that fall instead of drops. It was so crazy! We did it without umbrellas even! We were weirding people out! When we got back to our area we decided we needed to do a bunch of walking and we would need our umbrellas for that. So we were walking around one apartment complex knocking and a van pulls up and says "sisters where are you going?!" I figured he was a member of the church since he called us sisters so I said "to find people to teach of course!" He then told us he was in the bishopric but we had somehow not met...oops...embarrassing! He then said, well I'll let you get back to finding then! I wanted to say! "how about offering to help us out or something?! But hey, he probably had places to be. It just made me laugh. No one could believe we were out and working in the downpour. But I say, hey what's a little rain gonna hurt? especially when it's warm out! haha 

anyway! gotta go! 

change change change! Do it!

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More Holiness Give Me- email from 03-19-13


Boy is that my mantra. I have been extremely humbled this past week. It's never fun to realize that just when you thought you were humble, nope you have more pride than Boise fans during football season. So I have been taking some time to repent and figure out how to turn my Ego Titanic around. That's always a fun experience. 


This week has been wild. Now that the event is over I can tell the entire internet world what I was doing this past week. I got to see Mrs Gladys Knight McDowell (her husband won't let us forget her new last name) in person. To my (and many others') surprise, she is a mormon. And proud of it. Her husband is as well. So she has a choir called the Saints Unified Voices that she directs and tours around the country with. And no, they aren't concerts they do. They come and the night starts with an opening prayer. They sing a bunch of gospel songs and Gladys tells us some about herself. Then her husband shares how/why he became a Mormon, and to finish it off, Gladys shares her experience and why she joined the church. Holy Wow! Celebrity Mormons that are proud practicing members of the church. They are actually set apart as missionaries for the church because they are so amazing! But here is the fun role I got to play in all this. At the end they tell you that if you would like to receive a special gift of a sampler cd of the music, a Book of Mormon  and a restoration dvd all you have to do is fill out a card and hand it to an usher on the way out. Those ushers then came to me. :) I got put in charge of the request center. We took all those cards, sorted them, assigned them to the closest missionaries, put them into a database, and then sent the packages off to those missionaries. All of the people who requested a visit will have received their gift by tonight. :) How amazing is that?!?!?! I felt so lucky to be in charge of organizing and running that little department. Luckily my daddy passed down his computer genius skills to a point and made it a whole lot easier for me to do this. 

It was an amazing weekend! And I learned so much from their testimonies. We even got to pull late hours and not get in until 1230. But I learned that a missionary life is not conducive to late nights, because I am wiped out now! haha 

This week is transfer week! It got moved up a week because of the shortening of new missionaries MTC stays. It's a strange and bittersweet week for me. The sisters I came out with are headed home. I got to hear their final testimonies last night. I can't believe that is has already been a year and a half since this journey began. At first I never thought this day would come. Now it's here and I am lucky enough to be here for a few more months. Life is definitely an unexpected journey. 

Changity change...

hmm... I don't feel like I can really tell y'all much about change this week other than I became prideful for being the change and now I've got some back tracking to do. So I guess my thought for this week is that we must never think the race is finished and our change is accomplished, there is always more to go. 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Monday, March 11, 2013

oh how strange was the morning. . . email from 03-11-13

So I got to spend my morning in a Doctors office and blood lab. Yay me! They say it's possible that I have a thyroid problem and that may be contributing to my depression and tiredness. Let's hope they figure out the issue and I can stop falling asleep everywhere! 

But otherwise it has been a great week. There has been a huge policy change in emails. I am now allowed to email friends at home, all family, and priesthood leaders at home. So you can now give out my email if people would like to contact me that way. Email time has been extended to an hour and a half to accommodate that change. :) 

We had someone take us to Olive Garden last week, so that was basically the highlight of excitement for the week. haha 

Then I got to give a training in zone meeting on "Charity, Love everyone in the mission" I told the zone leaders they were being funny since I am the cranky one who is always stirring things up. haha But really, I just found it funny since Mom had been telling me I should study charity. It was a really big learning experience. WE have been getting pounded about having love for each other, but not falling in love with each other. So I researched a lot and discovered something. In the Bible Christ says "By this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." So he straight up told 12 Galilean fisherman that if they didn't have love for each other that people wouldn't recognize them as his disciples! That struck me hard. If he expected them to have love for each other I am pretty sure that he is expecting that out of the 150 of us in this mission with no excuses. That taught me a lot about needed to respect and love everyone I serve around. Sister Neibaur came up with the phrase "respect them like disciples, treat them like apostles". And if we're doing that, then we can be sure that we are being appropriate in our relationships with each other. I think they are really driving this home with our mission right now because by the end of the year there will be a set of elders and a set of sisters sharing every ward. Which means two things, we have to play nicely, and not start "falling in love". I'm glad I won't be here for that! 

So my dear father sent me this amazing quote on change that is hanging up in now what I will jokingly call the "family gym" since we all have personal trainers there. (I'm just on hiatus till I come home. ;) ) I love it! 

"We need discomfort and challenge, and change.
Discomfort in the service of change is no accident.
It’s necessary and normal.
Without discomfort, we would stay the same..

And who wants to stay the same forever?! That sounds like the worst life ever!
Well, gots to go buy some groceries so we don't starve!
love y'all,
Sister McCracken

Brrrrrrr IT’S SO COLD! email from 03-04-13

So it has been ridiculously cold here the past weekish. And neither of us have coats. So we have not been enjoying it too much. People are really funny though. They still just make us stand on their porch and tell us how cold it is and we shouldn't be out in the cold so they should let us go so we can go home and get warm...oh if only it were that easy. So I may be making the investment of buying a jacket to keep me warm.

It has been a busy busy week. I started my blog. This will be completely me teaching and bearing my testimony based off of experiences I have here as I do the work. I hope y'all will read that one too. Share it with people! That can be your way of spreading the message that Jesus loves us! :)

I have gotten really busy over the weekend with a few added responsibilities. But I am excited to have them. It's a sign that I am doing well enough mentally and emotionally that people are willing to add to my load in the mission. I think the Lord is just trying to add a little bit at a time so that I can adjust to the load and not overwhelm myself. 

And Change. First of all, my blog post last week was about it. So if you didn't read it, go read it. And second I wanted to tell you all about a goal I set. I decided to start running. Out of the blue last Thursday morning I decided to jog a little bit on the treadmill at our gym. After going a half mile I suddenly decided I should do a full mile. and I did! That is the first full mile I have ran in 10 years! I was so proud of myself. It was painful a bit. But I did it! I was using it for a lesson about enduring to the end later that day and the mom said to the kids "And tomorrow when she runs a mile again it will get a bit easier, enduring to the end gets better with practice" That stopped me in my tracks. I had no intention of running another mile the next morning. I hate running! That was just a once in a blue moon experience. But then I decided I needed to make a change. So I made a deal with the girls that we were teaching that if they worked on enduring to the end in following Jesus' commandments, that I would continue working on running. So I have now ran a mile every morning since then, except Sunday. I feel a little less dead afterward every morning and think I will step it up to 1.5 miles later this week. I had a thought that it would be really exciting if I could run a 5k when I got off my mission. So that is now the goal I am working toward. I am becoming a runner. And now that I have told the internet, I have no choice but to give it my best. I may fall short quite a few times. So encouragement is welcome. :) But that is my change that I have decided to work on. I am excited to see what it will do for my mental and physical health. 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Days! email from 02-25-13

We got a special announcement on Friday. We are getting our new mission President, President Craig in July. He just so happens to be from Bountiful, Utah and is Amy Surtees Bishop! How crazy is that! Part two to the announcement is that The Georgia Macon Mission will be reestablished this summer which means we will have boundaries changes and losing some of our mission! AAAAHHH!!!! Yes, there are 58 new missions being created this year by boundary changes, you can see the list on the home page. Or at least you could over the weekend. Idaho is getting TWO new missions. Idaho Nampa and Idaho Twin Falls! Oh wow! This is a crazy year for the missionary department! 

In other news, the work is still going forward. We have had a great week finding new people to teach in places that we don't normally go. We had a tracting miracle even! I never did believe I would find someone through tracting. But if this sister stays committed it I will have found someone through knocking on doors! Up until now it's been all through referrals or families that already have a member of the church. 

I have gotten sick a few times this last week. I have a cold that is constantly on the verge of happening, but won't seem to just get on with it and be over with. So that has been a pain. I also think I had my first experience with getting sick from food. There was someone that fed us, and I think the milk was spoiled. All I know is that my stomach was not happy that night or the day after. haha It didn't catch up to Sister Neibaur until a couple days later. 

So I just about died of joy at Zone Conference. President Barry's opening remarks were all about change!!!! Oh I was just writing as fast as my little hand would let me so that I could get it all down. My favorite statement was "This is the Gospel of Change!" I almost squealed out loud with joy when he said it! Change, change, change. Change is wonderful thing!  There was so much that just hit home and filled my soul with joy as people talked about different subjects.

Now here's the amusing part, we are assigned a topic to write a talk on and then three missionaries are randomly chosen the day of to give their talk. I had been naughty and put it off until the day before. I didn't get it done during my morning studies, but figured I'd finish it right before bed. Well, that evening I got a crushing migraine! We had to go home early so that I could get some medicine and lay down. So as I lay there I pondered how to finish my talk, and thought to myself, "the irony of all of this is that I'm going to get picked tomorrow to give a talk that I wrote while dying of a migraine..." And guess what! Sure enough, I got selected to speak. But WOW! The Spirit works really well through me when I'm dying of a migraine, because the talk was just what needed to be said. It was amazing. And I felt very relieved that I had taken the time to still ponder and write it when I felt so crummy. 

Well, all I have to say is. This is the Gospel of Change!!! 

love y'all! 

Sister McCracken

Happy Happy Day!- email from 02-18-13


It has been a chilly week in Florida. But it has been great! I got my new companion, Sister Neibaur! (nigh-bar) She is amazing. She is the brunette in the pictures I sent. She is a lot of fun. I love her.


It's been a busy week, but really good. I have had a lot of fun getting to know her. She wants to be an occupational therapist too! She is going to go the U for it. She and I joke that we will open up our own clinic together someday. :)

We are working really hard to find more people to teach. Our teaching pool kind of just dropped off to nothing last week. But we had an activity in the zone on Saturday that changed that. 11 companionships came to our area/ward to blitz it for us. Sister Neibaur and I came up with lists of less-active members that we don't know anything about. The missionaries would go to those addresses and talk to the people there to find out if they were still there, why they aren't coming, if they want to come back, and do they know anyone we could teach. We have 8 potential people to teach now! And a whole bunch of referrals! YAY! It's going to be amazing! 

I've been having a week of humbling where I have realized many of my shortcomings and my need to improve myself. It's definitely an uncomfortable experience to realize faults that you never knew you had. But that's ok, because we all need to be working to improve and grow. right? 

Hmmm...change... I am training one of the first 19 year old sisters in the mission. Talk about change! She is part of a new generation of missionaries. She is bringing change to the mission in the simple way of being able to better connect with the Young Women in the ward. I'm getting a little old for them to listen to me. :/ She is being the change just by being her. So often in life we are effecting change in others lives by just being ourselves. Just watch out that it's a good change. :) GO BE THAT CHANGE! 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken

Thursday, February 14, 2013

WOW! email from 2-11-2013

So I got so many fantastic emails from my wonderful family that I spent my whole time reading emails. Which was great! I needed that little boost up! 

That means this email is going to be really short. 

Here goes. We have had a slow week.Sister Gilbert got sick. :( So we were having to take it slow much to her disappointment. haha And I'm super sad because it's her last week here and she is leaving me. But it will be ok. I hope I get as great as companion as her! I'll find out tomorrow! 

Yeah, I'm just ready for a new transfer and some miracles! I also know I'm going to be here until at least May, so no worries on having to pack my bags again soon. Yay! 

Gotta go! 


sometimes, in missionary life, things don't go exactly how we want. You all know that. And that is when it's most important to find out what change God is wanting you to make. So I'm working on a lot of change right now. Hope y'all still are too!


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oh Happy Days! email from 02-04-13

Well, surprise! Another Baptism!


Dewarn got baptized on Friday night! Our plan was for Saturday afternoon. But he wanted it before his Church Ball game on Saturday so that he could have Jesus more on his side. :) He was baptized by Troy, the Bishop's son who will be leaving on his mission to Ogden, Utah in May! Sister Gilbert lives inside his mission, so she just may even get to see him out there. How crazy is that? 


We have had a crazy week. Throwing together a baptism at the last minute can make for some wild days. But it was so worth it. Dewarn is such a great young man and has so much potential. He makes me so proud. I am so lucky I got to teach him. We are going to try to start working with his little brother soon. :) 


So transfers is coming up on the 13th of February. Missionaries don't really observe Valentine's Day, so it don't matter much to us. haha And I know that I am staying. Becaaaause... I am getting a new missionary!!! I am so excited! She just went into the MTC this past Wednesday and will be arriving a week from tomorrow. It is going to be an exciting and crazy two transfers ahead of me. It was a weird realization that I am going to be here until at least the first of May now, and that I will only have 12 weeks left at that point. So I may not ever move while I'm back out. How crazy would that be? I don't mind though, because we basically have a penthouse for an apartment here. LOVE IT! I will never live this high class again in my life. haha 


I also got made an online missionary this week! Which means I have a facebook account as a missionary and I will be writing a blog! It is definitely weird to have a facebook again. So for anyone who asks, yes, my regular profile has been disabled. It has to disappear while I am a facebook missionary. And my account is strictly for missionary work here in Florida. I can't talk to people outside of the mission. But you can comment and help me teach the gospel when I post and such. And sharing my new blog with people is perfectly acceptable as well. I will just be discussing different points of the gospel somehow. I'm not sure what exactly I'll be doing on that blog yet. But I'll keep you updated. 


I have got a crazy week ahead of me. But I am excited. 

This week has been a bit humbling because I have been planning on being transferred out of here, so I have not really worked as hard as I could have to learn the area and such. So I have had a wake up call and have a lot of work ahead of me.

Change is in the air. And I am legitimately scared of what the future holds for me. But I know it can only be good. So I have just got to pull myself up by the boot straps and be the change that I want to see. :)

love y'all

Sister McCracken

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


So, to start off the I have to tell you the best best bestest news!!!!


We had a baptism!!!! YAY!!!! Devin is a little boy that we have been teaching for only three weeks! His mom called us right after I arrived and said "I want to come back to church and I want my son to be baptized!" So we went right over and started teaching them! He is so amazing. He talks like he was raised in the church, yet these past weeks are his first ever interaction with our church. He reads the Book of Mormon for his 30 minutes a day that he has to do for school, and understands it! He is so amazing. I can't believe it! He is so strong. He told Brother Ortega(the other guy in white) that he thinks he needs to become a missionary. He's only ten, just baptized, and thinking mission. I am so proud of him. He has been such a joy to teach! 


Last night was also a party. We have this group of boys in the ghetto that we teach and they were giving a hard time about coming on Sunday and saying that is was too much Jesus for one day. So I finally said "Well if I cook dinner, can we come?" They couldn't believe the offer. I said I'd cook if they'd let us come. So we made the deal that I would make Mexican and they would let us come have a lesson. And it worked! And it helped them build a little more trust in me so that makes me really happy. They are all such sweet boys even though they have to act all tough. They crack me up. They are even training me in the dialect of the ghetto. So I may come back speaking a different language after all. 


We were really busy running all over the place again. We went to Orange Park and Lake City for trade offs this week. That was fun as usual. I even got to drive while we were in Lake City, so that brightened my weekend. We are just busier than I know what to do with. We even have trouble having enough time to contact the referrals we are receiving from people. I never thought I would see that day. The Lord truly is hastening His work. He is keeping us busy bringing all His children to the gospel or back to it. I love my mission!!!!

I am still working on compassion, I think God gave me every test on compassion possible this week. I failed some, I passed some. But hey, that's still change. 

Change is tough, but good, all at once. So BE IT!!!


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh the weather outside is delightful

We have had a cold week this week. The temperatures dropped and a wind storm hit. So it was pretty cold knocking doors Thursday night and it was so silly because people kept saying "well I better let you girls go so you can go get warm." I just wanted to say "noooo!!!! let us come in! letting us go means more walking around in the cold!!!!" haha But I held my tongue. I broke out my sweater tights yesterday and was grateful for them when we had a lesson outside last evening. They did double duty keeping my legs warm and also keep the mosquitos away. Lucky me.

Speaking of mosquitos, I had a funny moment with that last night. We were sitting in that lesson talking and a mosquito was flying past in front of me. So as I am teaching along, I reach out, grab the mosquito, and squish it. After I finish my sentence the guy says "Did you seriously just go Mr Miyagi and catch that mosquito?!" I just laughed and said "Well yes, I have had quite a bit of practice doing it here." His mind was blown, and I was pretty proud of myself. 

It's been a great week though. We have found a bunch more people to teach! Elizabeth referred us to her sister. Her sister's husband is Catholic but he is interested in learning and possibly being baptized! We have taken to calling them "the clan" when we talk about them since there is like 4 different last names attached to the group of them. :)


Sister Gilbert is so great for me. I definitely not perfectly happy all the time, but when I start to have difficult moments and my thoughts and feelings are heading in bad directions she listens and helps me turn back around. I am so lucky. Speaking of her. It was her birthday this week!!!! She's 25 now. I got a little crazy and bought a pinata to celebrate. So we brought it to the church on Friday during our lunch break and had the Elders in our district join us to break the pinata. It was so much fun. She says that she had a great birthday, which makes me happy. Mission birthdays should still be lots of fun. I'll send some pictures.


We had President's interviews last week, so I got to have another interview with President Barry. I just love those. I learn so much from him every time we get to sit down and talk. One funny aspect of our dynamic though is that he is always asking me questions about his phone. He has an iPhone. So I was showing him the "do not disturb" option so that his phone wouldn't go off during interviews but that he would know that calls and such had come through. Later that day we were back at the church again and he comes up to me and says "sister mccracken I need to ask you something..." I got all nervous and then he said "why are my emails not coming through on my phone?" I just giggled and helped him work on his phone. I love President Barry. 

well, this has gotten really long. 

I am still working to be the change by being compassionate to others. The teenage boys we teach are loving to test my patience and compassion. But it's good, because as I change I pray that they will work to be compassionate with others too.



Sister McCracken

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

There Is Sunshine in my Soul!!!!

Oh the joy! It is warm and sunny here in Florida! This is just the medicine I needed! I had my window down on the drive to come and do emails. Sorry it's so nasty cold there! Time to find a good book!


This week has been insane! We had to drive out to Lake City twice this week since SIster Gilbert is a sister leader. So we went Monday and Tuesday and then Friday and Saturday. It was a lot of fun. There are three sisters out there so I got to be in a trio both times. Wow is that a weird/fun experience. People get a little weirded out when three women in dresses are walking up to them though. hehe 


Being gone so much made it critical to get a lot done while we were here, and boy did we! I have not had such a packed week in my mission since Sister Surtees was my companion. But we had soooooo many miracles happen. My favorite by far is a new family that we are working with. We got a call last Thursday afternoon after Zone Meeting from some elders saying a less active sister in our boundaries had called and said she wanted to come back to church. So we called her and set up an appointment for that evening. It turns out she hasn't really been to church since she was baptized but she has realized she needs it in her life, and she just so happens to have a son that she wants baptized! So we began teaching him. They came to church yesterday and had an amazing experience! And last night we went over for a lesson. Her fiance and his kids were there as well. We taught the plan of salvation and everyone was so intent and hanging on our words. The spirit was so strong in the house while we were there. She called us this morning and said that she had prayed and that God had told her it was all true, so she asked forgiveness for all the wrong things she had done and threw out her cigarettes and vowed to stop swearing. (we hadn't even taught her about that yet!!!! :D) She also said she wanted to move her sons baptism up to as soon as possible and that her fiance's daughter wanted to be baptized too! OH MY GOODNESS! This family is just so ready for the gospel to change and bless their lives. They are so amazing! 


Let me tell you about Sister Gilbert. We knew each other from the LDSBC, so it's funny to be companions now. She has brown hair. She has a really powerful testimony and can blow anyone away when she shares it. She is an amazing teacher even though she thinks she isn't very good. She can talk to everyone and they all want to hear our message when she shares with them. She loves to eat lots of good food, so we are having fun shopping and cooking together. She likes to write letters too, so I actually get letter writing time on PDay! :D She says about herself "Oh geesh...I dunno, I'm not good at this!...ummm...uh...well I am almost getting old (25) but that's ok. Cause my dad says its just a drop in the bucket. And I love to be outside  And I love the Book of Mormon because it makes me happy. And I love my family, they're great. I love being a missionary and spreading the gospel, especially with sister McCracken because she makes life easy, and she's helping me learn how to be a good teacher, because she's the best. and that's all" She's a funny one! 

But yeah, that's us! We have just been sprinting like crazy.We have been finding so many new people to teach and work with, it is amazing. 

I put by mission statement on the back of my name tag per President Barry's challenge to all of us, so I wanted to share it with you. 

"Be the change...

Be at peace, true, patient, brave, happy, and compassionate.

Psalm 46:10"

I hope all of y'all have made a goal of change or are making one! Write me and tell me!


Sister McCracken

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

home again

Dear Frozen Tundra-ites,

I love Florida! It's been rainy and chilly here, but still no need for more than just my rain coat. I love it!!!! 

My trip here was crazy as all get out. I left Idaho Falls on time and arrived in Denver on time, but then we sat on the runway for 40 minutes waiting for another plane to leave our gate. I was panicking the whole time since I only had about a 40 minute layover. So when we finally were able to get off I ran to a airport screen to see where to go only to find out that my departure was delayed an hour. Good right? No. Because that meant I would miss my connection in Chicago. So then I had to spend an hour in line with many unhappy travelers who were also missing their connections because of the delayed flight. When I finally got to talk to an agent he told me they could reroute me and get me in just after midnight local time. I said NO WAY! So we kept looking and found another flight that would leave Chicago at  7, which meant that I would just have to sit in the airport for 6 hours once I got there. So we went with that since it would get me to Jacksonville at 1015. Then miracle of all miracles happened in Chicago, I went to a food court to eat lunch and as I was looking for a table someone said "sister, where's your companion?!" And lo, and behold, there was an LDS family headed home to Salt Lake with a layover that was far too long as well. They invited me to sit with them and have some company. So we sat and laughed and talked together. This may sound silly, but I don't even remember their names. All I know is that I was grateful to have that wonderful family to keep me company. Sister Barry came to the airport to get me and brought my companion...SISTER GILBERT!!! :) I was silly and ended up running to Sister Barry the minute I saw her, people probably thought I was crazy.

Since I've been here we have been busy busy busy. This area has a lot going on and we are just going nonstop. I love it. We share our ward with the Assistants to the President, so that is pretty exciting. I have ran into a few people I knew from Atlantic Beach so far and that has been really exciting. I love them. But this ward is already winning my heart. 

We are teaching this group of black boys between ages 14 and 17. And boy are they a party. They are making me work hard to earn their trust. But they are all so sweet. The stake has a young men's basketball league that plays on Saturday mornings and the ward is even letting them play on our team. So Sister Gilbert and I got permission to come watch our boys play on Saturday. They lost, but played a hard game. They played against the Beaches wards so I even got to see some of the boys I knew there. It was crazy. 

All I can say is that I am happy to be back and glad I chose to come back. I am serving with Sister Gilbert like I said before. We are in the Hendricks Avenue ward. We are right in the middle of Jacksonville. And yes, the wonderful Hannah is in our ward. We went and saw her family Friday evening. I love them. We do have our fancy apartment. The washer is a little scary though, it's insanely loud! And the dryer makes our stuff smelly. We are trying to figure that out so we can fix it. Otherwise its a fun apartment. We even has a nice gym in the complex that we go to every morning. So you can tell Jen I am working on staying fit and not making her work be for nothing. 

My address is:

6650 Corporate Center Parkway #1630

Jacksonville, FL 32216

We get to email from the family history center in our church building, so we only have to fight the elders for the computers for emails. It's much nicer than the library. 

I hope all is going well for all of you.

I love this work. Change is everywhere. I am so happy to be the change I want to see by challenging my fears and coming back to be a missionary. I hope that all of you can find a fear to challenge with me and we can all be that change we wish to see in everyone else. The best way to teach is by example, right? 

love y'all,

Sister McCracken