Thursday, September 21, 2017

Royal Palm Beach, September 18, 2018 - Hurricane Update and Lots of Photos!!

The following pictures include pictures of Sadie's evacuation to the Stake Center (Jupiter Ward, Stuart Stake Center).  The large group she is with is the missionaries she spent her evacuation with.
They had to fill all available containers at the church with water, and they made their beds putting the soft Relief Society chairs together.  They got to help with the cleanup of that Stake Center before they headed back to their apartments.  
They were able to help Freddye and Darlene's family with the clean up of their trailer home.  They are the cutest family!!  
Hermana Monson and Sister Petersen got to put on the Mormon Helping Hands shirts and serve in Miami and in Key West!!  I loved the read about these experiences in her letter that follows!
These two cute companions got stuck in a major lightening storm and were rescued by their investigator Amy.  
Also, pictures of their apartment that they got ready, before they were evacuated.

Hello everyone!

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all of the prayers. They have been much needed these last few weeks. To start off, I am doing great! I am just so blessed to be a missionary right now! I will do my best to describe the last few weeks, but there has been so much going on I am not sure I will be able to do it all justice. 

Two weeks ago we heard word that a hurricane was headed our way. The officially released the news three Sundays ago, and people panicked. The next day was a normal proselyting Monday due to Labor Day, and the storm was pretty much all that anyone could talk about. Lots of people started to put their hurricane shutters up, and the stores were absolutely cleared out of water by the end of the day. Sister Peterson and I had to wait in line for 40 minutes to fill our car with gas that night. The next day, Tuesday we received instruction from the mission office to go to the store early in the morning to get water, and supplies for the hurricane. We woke up early, and by a miracle we happened to arrive at the grocery store at the exact moment that they were unloading the water, so we managed to get a couple of gallons for each of us. We loaded up our carts with canned food, and non-perishables. The rest of the day was fairly normal, we were mostly just waiting to hear news from the mission office. That night we received further instruction that we should not use our cars in order to conserve gas, so Sister Peterson and I spent the next few days biking around. We were able to help a couple people put up their hurricane shutters, but a lot of people were too busy to listen to us.

On Thursday we were biking to our investigators house when she called and cancelled our appointment. We were already far away from our house, so we decided to stay in the neighborhood and knock some doors. It had started to rain lightly, but we didn't think much of it. Of course, Florida being Florida, it started to DOWNPOUR a few minutes later. We happened to be talking to an old man outside his front door, and he offered to let us use his umbrellas. It was very sweet, but just as we were leaving his driveway there was a huge crack of lightning right next to us, and the thunder followed immediately. We both instinctively took off running, and we sheltered under the ledge of a nearby garage where no one was home. We really weren't sure what to do because there were no businesses close, and we could not bike with the lightning storm that was currently right on top of us. We prayed for help, and a car drove by. Sister Peterson joked that it would be funny if that was the investigator that had just cancelled our appointment. Sure enough, she turned around, pulled into the driveway and motioned for us to get in her car. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we jumped in. She was able to drop us off at home, and then we were able to go pick up our bikes later, but that was definitely a prayer being answered. Those few days were crazy, there was so much tension. People were feeling very stressed, at that point it had been declared a category 5 hurricane, and Florida was in a state of emergency. I was not too worried, I knew that Heavenly Father would protect us, I just worried for all of the people around us that would lose a lot in the hurricane. 

We also did our best to see all of our investigators, but most of them were evacuating, or busy preparing their houses. We were especially worried about Freddy and Darlyne because they live in a little trailer park, and we knew that would not hold up well with such a big storm. They told us they were going to be sheltering in a high school. Anyway, on Thursday night of that week we had a conference call as a mission, and they announced where we would all be evacuating to. The next day (Friday) we spent most of the day getting our house ready, locking our hurricane shutters, moving all furniture away from the windows, bagging valuables, and packing our things to take to the chapel where we would be sheltering. We knocked a little bit, but didn't have much time before we met our district at our chapel and caravanned to the stake center where we would be staying, which was about 40 minutes away from our house. We tried to find somewhere good to eat before being stuck in the church, but everywhere was closed! Almost all of the businesses had their hurricane shutters up, but we did manage to find a burger king that was open. Anyway, we went from there to the chapel, brought all of our things inside the church and helped the other missionaries do the same. We got everything settled, then had another conference call as a mission with further instruction. Then we just played some card games with our zone. We were not allowed to be outside the chapel, so we spent all of Saturday inside. We were only allowed to be in the gym until 3:00 pm in case the steeple blew over in the storm. We made use of the gym while we could playing around the world and charades (we didn't want to get too sweaty without any showers!). Anyway, after 3:00 we were all stuck on one side of the chapel. It was actually really fun because we watched Mormon Messages, played board games, and just hung out all together. We had one window that did not have hurricane shutters, so we were able to see outside, and the weather didn't look too bad at that point. All of the sisters slept in the relief society room, and the Elders slept in a couple of classrooms. We made some makeshift beds out of the padded relief society chairs. On Sunday morning we woke up and did our normal studies, then we had a small sacrament meeting as a zone. It was just the missionaries, and one cute little old couple from the stake. As part of sacrament meeting a few people gave talks about why they chose to serve a mission, and what they have learned. It was awesome. 

We all had a few hours to relax, journal, study, play more board games, etc. The storm started picking up around 2:00 in the afternoon, we could hear the wind outside, and sometimes things would bang into the windows. Around 3:00 the power went out, and so we had a great time playing board games in the dark with our flashlights. The power was off the whole night, so we played a lot of group games that don't require light. It started to get REALLY hot with no ac, so that was a little miserable, but it was fun. We were all living off granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and licorice. On Monday morning we woke up, the power was still of, but it was light outside. After our studies we had another mission conference call which told us that we could go outside, and start picking up the chapel grounds. It felt so good to be outside! There was a few trees that had fallen over, one of the palm trees had cracked and landed on the church, but had not done much damage. Other than that there was just tons of palm leaves and other branches everywhere, so we spent a few hours cleaning those up. Near the end of that the Stake President showed up, and he took the Elders to go see if their house had power. Turns out it did, so all of the Elders went to one house to shower, while President Westover took the sisters to his house. It felt so good to shower, and his wife made us breakfast! It was so great to eat something besides granola bars and peanut butter. After that they took all of us to go help a friend of theirs who used to be investigating the church. We spent the rest of the day helping her clean her yard. There were branches and pine needles strewn everywhere! By the end of that we were all exhausted, and ready for another shower. Thankfully, our bishop texted us that our power was on at our house again, so we were able to go home that night. It was so much fun to be with the other missionaries in the chapel though. 

The next few days was just a lot of craziness trying to put everything back together, and normal proselyting. We were able to help some people clean up their tree branches out of their yards. Our area was not hit too badly, a lot of people didn't have power for a few days, and a lot of trees had fallen over. On Friday we were finally able to go see Freddy and Darlyne, we went with 6 missionaries to go help them clean up their trailer. They were so so grateful. 

On Saturday we went with some ward members to Miami. We met a bunch of other volunteers at a chapel, and then from there we split into groups to go do service. There was about 600 volunteers, and it was so cool to see everyone come together. We were in a group with our ward, and we were in charge of filling work orders for people in Miami. We drove to a few houses, and helped to chop up trees, rake leaves, and remove branches. Some of them were members, some of them were not, but it was awesome. Everyone was very grateful, not everyone would allow us to help, but the ones that did were so happy. Miami got hit pretty bad, there were a few houses that were destroyed by trees. That night we drove home, showered, and then went out to proselyte again. We came home exhausted, and tried to sleep fast so we could wake up early on Sunday morning. 

We woke up early Sunday morning, went to a short sacrament meeting with some other volunteers at 5:00 am. Then drove an hour and a half to go back to Miami. It was so fun to see other missionaries and old ward members at the chapel. They split us into groups again, and Sister Peterson were so excited when we got assigned to the Keys! We drove with our group another hour and half to get to Key West. They were not allowing people in, so there was a huge line up of cars waiting, but the national guard let us through because we were volunteers. The drive was beautiful with the ocean and everything, but the islands themselves were badly damaged. Most people on the islands live in trailer parks, and a lot of trailers got demolished. There was tons of debri everywhere, especially tree branches. We first went to a little neighborhood and decided to help clean up the Christian church. We chopped up some tree branches, hauled them into a huge pile, and swept away old leaves. It was cool because a couple people showed up for morning service just as we were finishing, and they were so grateful, especially the pasteur. 

A lot of people had already received help, so we were thinking about going further south, but we decided to try one more little trailer park before leaving. We were so glad we did because they were in desperate need of help. The manager, Scuba Joe, was so grateful for us! He had heard that the Mormons were going to be in town, and he had prayed earlier that morning that we would be sent to him. His whole trailer park had been buried in water during the storm, so there was seaweed up to your knees! We spent all day yesterday raking seaweed, hauling tree branches, and getting rid of debri. It was so fun! They were so so grateful, and by the time we left it looked so much better. There was still a lot of work to go, and they still won't have power for a few weeks, but it was great. There was a couple of national guard volunteers as well, and the red cross provided us free lunch. Last night we drove home, showered, and went to proselyte for the last hour of the night. I am so tired, but so so happy. My testimony has definitely been strengthened in new ways these last two weeks. I feel so blessed to have been the answer to someone else's prayer. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us. 

I love you all!
Sister Monson

Sept. 11, 2017 Quick Note - No P-day because of Irma

Hi Mom and Dad! How are you?

I just wanted to let you know that I am alive and well :)! We have been in the chapel with our zone since Friday night, and the hurricane hit on Sunday. It didn't really hit our area too bad, there was a lot of trees that fell over and we were without power for most of Sunday (you can imagine how that was with no ac in a chapel full of missionaries, especially since we were only allowed to be on one side of the chapel in case the steeple fell over). It was actually really fun to play card games and talk with our zone. The power is back on in the chapel now, and we will be heading home tonight or tomorrow morning. We have been told that our house has power and water, so that is a blessing! I am not sure when my next p-day will be, so I'm not sure when is the next time I will get to email you. Anyways, I love you! Talk to you later :)!

Love, Sister Monson

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sept. 5, 2017 Just a bit from Sister Monson's letter to her Mama

I Love hearing from Sadie every week!!  Here is just a bit from her letter to me.  What I love the most is that she still keeps in touch with Angela!

I feel like there is so much craziness going on! This last week we went on more exchanges, we have continued teaching Freddy and Darlyne, and we have still been knocking doors. We have so many things coming up this week including interviews with President, a temple tour with Freddy and Darlyene, a training for missionary leadership with a member of the 70, a zone conference, more exchanges, a temple trip, AND Freddy and Darlyne are supposed to be getting baptized next weekend! I am so excited! However, I don't know if you've heard much, but apparently there is a hurricane coming. Hurricane Irma, it is supposed to hit Florida, and it is supposed to be pretty bad. We all got permission to go to the store early this morning to buy supplies, because the stores get cleaned out so fast! It was honestly such a blessing we were able to get water, it was pretty much gone and it is not even supposed to be here until Sunday! We all have 72 hour kits, and now we are stocked up on canned and non-perishable food. We will probably end up being evacuated to the chapel or a high school at some point this week, but we are all just waiting to hear when. It is a little stressful, not because I'm scared, but because we just don't really know what's going on. We only get to hear random tidbits from people in the street or ward members or sometimes the mission office will text us. I think poor President and Sister Garns are just trying to get the hang of everything, but it's all good :).

I have loved working with Sister Peterson so far. She is the sassiest person I know, and I am just laughing all the time. We are working on having companionship unity, but we are really having a good time. This week has definitely been less stressful with the sisters in our sisterhood. They seem to be doing a lot better, which is a huge blessing. 

I have been emailing Angela back and forth every week. It just makes my day every time because she says she is just so grateful for us, for the gospel, and how it has changed her life. She loves her bishop, and her ward, and she always says to tell you hi.

Royal Palm Beach Week 3 September 5, 2017

Hello Everyone!

It has been a great, and slightly  crazy, week here in Florida! This morning we all woke up early and went to the store to load up on supplies for Hurricane Irma. We are waiting to hear back with more news on that, and what we need to do, but at least we are prepared! I have noticed that a lot of people are willing to pray with us, because at this point everyone can agree that we need it. Heavenly Father is humbling His children so they will be ready to receive His gospel, and it is just a blessing to be able to take it to them! 

On Tuesday last week we had a District Training. In our district there are 4 sisters, and 2 elders so it is pretty small! It was great, we learned about the Lord's expectations. After that we got lunch as a district, so that was a good time. That day we were feeling a little worried about Freddy and Darlyne because we hadn't heard from them for a few days since they were sick, and hadn't been able to come to church. We decided to give Darlyne a call, and we were glad that we did. She has been struggling with a lot of depression, and she really needed our call in that moment. We were grateful for that impression that allowed us to help her through a difficult night. 

On Wednesday we went on an exchange with the Sisters that we live with (Sister Oliverson and Sister Long). I got to knock doors with Sister Oliverson, and she is such a sweetheart. She goes home from her mission at the end of this month, so she definitely has a lot of experience that I can learn from. After our exchange we did a tour of the chapel with our investigator Amy. She really liked the building, but when we got to the chapel she felt something different. We read the sacrament prayers with her, and talked about baptism. Before that she had been feeling nervous, and slight opposed to baptism. As we sat in the chapel and talked about it, she agreed that she needed those feelings all the time. It was awesome. She decided that she does want to be baptized, and she said she will pray about a date. That night we had a family home evening with Freddy and Darlyne in our ward mission leader's house. We watched the movie "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration," and they loved it! They are really starting to understand why the church is different, and why the message is so important!

On Thursday we met with Amy again, and we brought another sister from our ward. We taught about the Plan of Salvation, and Amy really liked it. She kept saying that it is so different than anything she has ever been taught, but that it makes so much sense, and we definitely agreed! That night we had dinner with the Bishop's family, they are awesome, and very excited about missionary work. Especially  because the Bishop's son just got back from his mission in Brazil. For our spiritual thought we had them all pray as a family, and then gather around our gps to choose a spot for us to knock on doors. They loved it, and all came to the same conclusion about which spot, and they are now committed to come teaching with us to whatever investigator we find on that street. 

On Friday we went on a full-day exchange with Sister Davis and Sister Callister. Sister Davis came to work with me in Royal Palm. A lot, well actually all, of our appointements fell through so we ended up visiting a lot of former investigators and knocking doors. Sister Davis is a trooper! We had fun together, we also did service by helping an old lady clean out her back patio. I don't think I have ever had so many spiderwebs on me before, it was so gross, but lots of fun. 

Saturday was a busy day as we exchanged back, then had another short exchange with some other sisters. After that we met our District Leader so he could give us a short training as a companionship. He talked about placing our trust in God, and confessing His hand in all things. It was just what we needed. After that we ended up seeing Freddy and Darlyne again, and they are progressing so well! We always teach them sitting outside their little trailer. During the middle of our lesson it started downpouring rain. We all huddled under the little metal awning that they have, and Sister Peterson and I tried to keep teaching, but it was so loud! With a lot of help from the ward member we'd brought, we finally managed to finish the lesson. The problem was that we'd parked our car on the street over, but as soon as we finished praying the rain stopped. It paused while we walked back to our car, and then started again as soon as we got inside. It was an awesome tender mercy, Heavenly Father is so aware of us. 

On Sunday we had a pretty normal day. Freddy and Darlyne came to church, which was awesome! They are really getting to know the ward. Amy couldn't come to church because she is out of town visiting her dad, but we will see her tomorrow.

Other fun things about this week: we have had a lizard in our house at least 4 times. It usually consists of one of us walking into the kitchen, screaming, and then all of us running in there and trying to catch it with a broom and a tupperware. I wish I could video record it for your viewing pleasure, but just imagine 4 of us all frantically trying to catch the lizard without touching it. It is really pretty funny.

That is all for this week! Have a great one!
Love, Sister Monson

1. Our shopping adventures last pday
2. A member randomly brought us a popsicle mold, we made it with pink lemonade, but it was way sour
3. Florida is beautiful
4. My exchange with Sister Davis
5. This adorable old lady in our ward bakes us cookies every week
6. Our solution to all of life's problems: ice cream and a face mask ;)

Royal Palm Beach: Week 2 August 28, 2017

Hello everyone!

This week has been one of the craziest of my whole mission! Being an STL definitely requires a lot of stamina because there is never time to stop. I love it so much, the sisters are awesome!

On Monday night we saw a cool miracle when we were knocking doors. We met a lady named Amy, and she told us that she recently fell and shattered her elbow. She had to get surgery on it because it shattered, but then that caused an infection which spread to her heart, which led to a heart replacement surgery. On top of all that she recently had knee surgery, and also is going through a divorce. She is amazing, and talking to her makes me so very grateful for everything that I have. Anyway, she was studying with missionaries a few years ago, but then she moved away and lost contact with the church. She has recently moved back in to live with her mom, and has been looking for a church to go to. She does not agree with her mom's Jehovah's Witness beliefs, and so she was talking to her uncle about trying to find somewhere. She told him that the only time she ever felt good about a church was when she was studying with the Mormons, and then we knocked on her door a few hours later! It was awesome. She let us right in, and taught her about the Restoration. She has been excited to come to church all week. Unfortunately, she didn't come. We stopped by her house after church, and she explained that her daughter had fallen on her knee and caused lots of problems so she wasn't able to make it. She was so touched that we'd come by to see her again, and she is really excited to meet with us again this week!

We also had a great lesson with Freddy and Darlyne that night, and our ward mission leader came with us. We taught them the second half of the plan of salvation. Freddy couldn't believe it when we taught about eternal marriage, he said "you hear that babe?! We can be married forever!" They are so adorable. Darlyne was really quiet, and we were concerned about it. The next day we felt like we should stop by unexpectedly in the afternoon when Freddy was at work so that we could talk to her alone. We were so glad that we did because she was able to explain a lot of things about her background that helped us to understand more of her concerns. We were able to tell her how much we love her, and how much God is here to help her. She has been so open ever since that, they both love us, and we love them! One night when we were going to visit them our goal was to help them set a baptismal date. We had tried several times, but they wouldn't commit for some reason. We decided that we were going to bring a calendar, but when we went to the Dollar store to look for one, we realized that they don't sell 2017 calendars anymore! We were already running late to that appointment, but we didn't want to go without a calendar because we'd promised to  bring one. We both said a little silent prayer, next thing you know we dig up the ONLY 2017 calendar left in the whole store. It just reminded me that God is in the details. Having a physical calendar helped them a lot. They prayed, and decided that September 16th will be the day of their baptism! We are so excited for them! We are still working to help them stop smoking and get married, but they are doing well. The only bummer is that they got sick, so they couldn't come to church yesterday. Satan is trying really hard to keep them away, but it won't work! They are just wonderful. 

We also went on a lot of exchanges this week with the other sisters. It is so much fun being able to learn from them, and see how they like to do missionary work. I went on a full day exchange with Sister Ricardo. I went to the area of West Palm Beach where we did service for 3 hours scraping some really thick wallpaper off (we couldn't feel our shoulders by the end), it was lots of fun. After that we went to teach their investigator that has suffered 6 strokes, and he can't really talk. He was so excited when we showed up because he handed us a business card and said "man, book." After some questioning we figured out that he had given his barber a Book of Mormon, and now he wanted to meet with us! He needed a new copy of the Book of Mormon, so after an extremely simplified Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson he followed us to our car. When we opened the trunk and he saw all the supplies inside his eyes got so wide and he loaded himself with 5 Book of Mormons, 3 packs of pamphlets, and 2 packs of cards. He excitedly gestured to himself, the materials, and all the surrounding apartment buildings. We understood that he wanted to hand out all the materials, how could we say no to that? It was so cute. It was awesome to work with Sister Ricardo, she is a fantastic missionary with a lot of love for people. 

The next day Sister Peterson came to pick me up, and I came back to Royal Palm Beach. 

It has been a great week! I just love missionary work!
Love you all!
Love, Sister Monson

                          Sister Peterson with eclipse glasses a couple hours too late.
                                                  Sister Peterson and I
                                                   Sister Ricardo and I
                                       Sister Peterson and I with the ice cream Dad sent us.