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