Monday, October 9, 2017

Royal Palm Beach October 9, 2017

Hi everyone!

It has been another fantastic week in Florida! We have been getting back to normal, and I must say that has been kind of nice. 

We have met with Freddy and Darlyne several more times this week. Freddy was finally able to get a little bit of work with one of our ward members, but then he injured himself when he tripped over something and dropped the heavy vase he was carrying on his hand. Now he can't work for a while. It seems like one thing after another is  being thrown at them, but they are still going strong! They love reading the Book of Mormon, and they loved church yesterday. They were able to look into getting some financial help, which will hopefully help things get moving with their divorce and then marriage. 

On Tuesday we were able to teach a man in our ward that was excommunicated a long time ago, but he has made some huge changes in his life, and would like to be baptized again. It was a very cool experience. The atonement is just so real. It is truly able to purify the sinners and perfect the saints. 

On Wednesday we did a full day exchange with the Wellington Sisters (the sisters we live with). I got to go to the Wellington area with Sister Johnson, who is one of the sweetest people I've ever met. We met a couple of potentials and had a great day. We were also able to watch on of the sessions of Conference, which was awesome, of course. 

On Thursday we had a cool experience while we were knocking doors. We have been meaning to visit a particular former investigator for a few weeks now, but we could not find the street she lives on. Well, on Thursday we were driving around looking for somewhere to knock for a few minutes that would be close to our next appointment, and we found the street that she lives on! We did not have her teaching record with us, so we had no house number. We decided to knock one or two doors and then come back another day to visit the former. As soon as we got out of the car I felt like we should knock a particular house, but I almost shrugged it off because there were no cars in the driveway (everyone parks in the driveway in Florida) and no lights on. I mentioned it to Sister Peterson, and she agreed to knock it. No one answered, and just as we were about to leave we heard the door creak open behind us. We ran back, turns out we had accidentally knocked right into the former investigator we had been wanting to visit! She was excited to see us, and had lots of questions about the Book of Mormon. We ended up teaching about the Book of Mormon, and it was a great lesson! She has a lot of things going on in her life right now, and is not sure she is ready to make the commitment to meet with us or come to church. However, she will definitely  be more open to future missionaries after having some of her concerns resolved. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit that led us to her door, but also gave us scriptures to use, and things to say when we were talking to her.

On Friday I had my first MLC. It was awesome! All of the zone leaders, STLs, and Assistants to the President met together at the mission home. It was a training focused on Christlike leadership and how we can better serve the people in our stewardships. I came away feeling like I have 50 bajillion things to improve on, but also very inspired. We barely made it back to our area in time for a recent convert in our ward to take us to dinner. He is a single man, and he is just awesome. He was baptized in April, so we had fun talking to him, and we also had some great barbeque. 

Saturday we had a meeting with the Zone Leaders in the morning, and then we spent a lot of the day in the car in order to have some fire exchanges with 2 companionships of sisters. They are both so sweet! I love getting to know the other sisters. We got to our area just in time for a quick lesson with Freddy and Darlyne about callings, and serving in the church. They both agreed to prepare for a calling, and we are pretty sure that with all the trials they have been going through Heavenly Father has big things in store for them!

Yesterday it was great to go back to church again. We had not had normal church for a month, so it was great! Freddy and Darlyne loved it, and it was good to see all the ward members again. After church we went to visit a sweet Jamaican less active member that lives with her son. Her son was not home to take care of his dogs, and she is scared of them, so she had us sit in her bedroom to share the message and eat lunch. We all crowded in and had a pretty comical message with the dogs barking at the door. She was very touched though, and we are hoping to continue working with her. That afternoon we ended up teaching a few lessons to people that very obviously need the gospel right now, and the spirit was there to confirm it during the lesson, but they still chose not to accept it. We know they will be ready one day, but it is heartbreaking to know the happiness they are choosing to forgo. 

It has been a very busy, but a very good week! I know that our Savior lives, He knows, and loves us. He is the source of true hope and happiness. I love you all!

Love, Sister Monson

Monday, October 2, 2017

More Pictures from The Keys October 2, 2017

Trash Mountain
                                                           Selfie with Sister Petersen

                                     Storm surge line....up to 5 or 6 feet in some places.

Royal Palm Beach and More Clean Up in the Keys October 2, 2017

Hi everybody!

I hope you all had a great week, and especially a great conference weekend! I will start out with the disclaimer that we did not get to watch Conference this weekend because we were in the Keys. We will have to watch in whenever we get time over the next few weeks, so I don't have too much to say about that yet :).

Last Tuesday was our P-Day, and then we went out to work at 6:00 like normal. We saw so many miracles that night which was a huge blessing because we had been in the Keys all weekend and we hadn't had much time to work in our area. We knocked into a sweet girl named Ciara, she is 17, and she is trying hard to regain her faith. She said she has felt such a difference since trying to learn about Jesus Christ, and then she was so surprised when we showed up at her door! She loved the lesson, and was excited to learn more. It was so cute because in the closing prayer she thanked Heavenly Father for sending his angels to talk to her. Unfortunately we haven't been able to meet with her since then, but we are trying hard to get back in contact with her this week! 

After that we went to go and visit a potential, but she wasn't home. However, her two younger sisters were, and they loved our message. They are twins, and they love going to church so they said they would definitely be willing to give our church a try. Hopefully they will be able to come next week. They weren't broadcasting Conference at our chapel because a lot of people were going to the Keys to help, so we will have to make sure they are at church next week. We came home that night feeling so blessed to be able to find 3 new investigators in one night, Heavenly Father was definitely making up the time that we spent serving in the Keys. 

Wednesday was a fairly normal day, we drove around to visit a lot of less-active members. We tried to meet with Fitore again, but she wasn't home. We were able to meet with Freddy and Darlyne and talk about temples. I love visiting them, I just always come away so much happier. Freddy always loves to tease us so we started teaching the lesson, and he says "Um, sisters, I learned all of this on my first day at church." He told us that they'd talked about temples in Priesthood, and he remembered a lot of what was said. They are excited to go to the temple after they are baptized. 

Thursday we had our first District Training of the new transfer. We have an additional set of Elders in our district now because they opened the Creole area for the Winter (apparently all the Haitians leave in the summer, and return in the Winter-no one is really sure why). Anyway, that was great. Most of our lessons that night fell through as well, but it was a good day. 

Friday we did our weekly planning, and we were both feeling a little off. It was just one of those days, but thankfully we had another lesson with Freddy and that lifted our spirits right out of the slump. Darlyne was gone to help her sister, so we taught Freddy a little more about the Priesthood. We had an awesome couple from our ward that came with us, and they helped a ton. Freddy was telling them about how he'd lost his job, and they can't get married because they have to have money to get divorced first. Brother McFarlane just expressed his own testimony, and so much love for Freddy that it was just what he needed to hear. Freddy said the closing prayer in which he thanked God for "his sisters" and "his new friends" and then he said "until we talk again" before he closed his prayer. It was so cute, and it made me think of how that's really how prayer should be-an ongoing conversation with Heavenly Father. I love Freddy and Darlyne so much! They were supposed to be able to watch conference with a ward member this weekend, but we are not sure if that worked out or not. If not, we will make sure they are able to see it this week!

Saturday morning we woke up at 3:30am and met at the home of a couple from our ward. They loaded up their 15 passenger van with 8 people and a lot of camping gear, then we made the 4 hour drive to the Keys. We arrived, set up camp, and set out to work. They gave us a bunch of work orders to fill with our group which consisted of the sweet old couple who drove us, 3 other brothers from our ward, a few teenagers, and us. We spent all morning pulling branches, seaweed, and debri out of people's homes. The Keys looked a lot better than they had the week before, but there was still so much destruction. We drove down one street that had been hit really hard, one of the trailers had completely blown away and all that was left to show it was once there was the tile floor. It was crazy. People were so grateful, especially a spunky little 86 year old lady named Mary Ann. She really couldn't do the work for herself, so she was very glad to have help. Sister Peterson and I noticed her neighbor across the street needed some help as well, so we went to go rake her yard as well. She told us it had taken her an entire week to rake the seaweed off of one half of her yard. We helped her finish the other half in an hour or two. She was so grateful.  We spent most of the day outside doing tree/branch/seaweed/debri removal so by the time 6:00 rolled around we were thoroughly exhausted. We all headed back to the campground, and thankfully they had portable showers. I don't think I would have been able to sleep smelling the seaweed on myself all night. They allowed the missionaries to sleep in the same museum again (we were so grateful because none of us have tents or sleeping bags). They broadcast Priesthood session, and re-broadcast women's session so we got to watch that before bed. 

The next morning we woke up, got dressed, had some breakfast, and we all set out to work again. When we arrived at the church they decided to send our group further south because they needed more help in some of the other islands. The further south we got, the worse the destruction was. We arrived at a Boy Scout camp on the beach where they had headquarters. They didn't have any more formal work orders, so they just sent us out and said "see what you can find." A lot of the houses are built on cinder block stilts, so the house itself is raised off the ground about 10 feet. We ended up helping one man muck out his garage, which was underneath his house, and it got filled with garbage and mud. We cleared everything out, trying not to slip on the mud, then shoveled mud into wheelbarrows, and dumped it in a pile for the city to pick up. Sister Peterson and I got so muddy, but it was fun. Next we went to his next door neighbor, her yard was knee deep in seaweed and trash. There was a hot tub, a refrigerator, a desk, a sopping wet mattress, and a fence in her yard that weren't even hers. We couldn't even begin to move the hot tub, but with all of us working together we were able to clear the rest of the debri out, and we made some good headway on the seaweed before we had to head back to the campground and return our supplies. We were all smelly, and so so tired for the drive home, but we made it! It was another great weekend in the Keys. I have learned so much from being able to serve these people. 

It really helps you prioritize, and it has given me a whole new perspective on attitude. Some people are absolutely hopeless, self-pitying, and bitter. Others are so full of faith, and are so grateful for the help they receive. Those are the people that are happy, they know it is in God's hands, and they are able to move forward. I hope to be able to emulate that attitude, because I have definitely seen that it makes all the difference in the world. 

I hope it's another great week for you all! Love you!
Sister Monson
                                                               Her District
                                                     President and Sister Garns

                          Museum where they were able to sleep.  Sister Peterson and Sister Monson
                                                               Portable Showers

                                                                      The Beach

September 28, 2017 Royal Palm Beach and Clean Up in the Keys

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great week! This week has been one of the most amazing weeks of my whole mission!

Last week started off great. We got back from doing service in Miami, started off the week with a pretty normal P-Day, and then did our best to get back into normal missionary routine after all of the craziness that has been happening. On Tuesday night we were going to visit a former investigator, turns out they had moved, but the lady who answered the door agreed to listen to our message. Her name is Fitore, and she is such a sweetheart! She is a young mom, and she has a sweet little 1 year old girl named Athena that is always trying to crawl onto our laps. We taught her about the Restoration of the gospel, and she just kept saying "wow, that is so cool! I've never heard that! Wow!" It was a fun lesson with those kinds of comments inserted every few minutes. She is really excited to read the Book of Mormon, and hopefully she will be able to come to church this next Sunday. 

We also had zone conference this past week, and it was awesome! President Garns showed us some of the work he did as a photographer, and it was amazing. Then he talked about how our personal conversion to the gospel will increase our desire to share it, so as we become more personally converted, we will have more motivation to work hard as a missionary. It was amazing. Sweet Sister Garns talked about how much Heavenly Father is aware of us in our work. They are so wonderful, and I am so grateful to be blessed to serve with them. I have so much respect for the way they have been handling everything lately, and they just never stop telling us they love us. 

On Wednesday we did a full-day exchange, so I went to Port Saint Lucie with Sister Wingert. We had a great day, we visited lots of potentials, knocked on lots of doors, and found a new investigator at the very end of the night. I learned a lot from Sister Wingert about trust in the Lord. She came out on her mission at the same time as me, then she had to return home for medical reasons. She came back out, but is now experiencing medical problems again. She told me that she is doing well, and that she is just willing to go wherever the Lord needs her to be. She is awesome. 

On Thursday we had a long drive to exchange back because Port Saint Lucie is an hour and a half away from our area. That took up a lot of our morning, which made the rest of the day a little crazy. We were able to see Freddy and Darlyne though. We haven't been able to meet with them for a while due to the hurricane, and then they were sick. They have been going through such a hard time. A lot of their things got ruined in the hurricane because one of the windows of their trailer blew open and a lot of wind got in. As soon as they got back home they all got sick, and then Freddy lost his job. We are trying to help them stay motivated, and I am so impressed with their faith. They understand so well that as we turn to God we will be supported in our trials, even though it might be tempting to turn away. They seemed a little down, so we talked about that, and they told us that they still really want to get baptized. They will need at least another month in order to get the divorce/marriage/smoking figured out, but we prayed about a new baptismal date with them and they chose November 11. They are just wonderful, and I love them. Darlyne texted us this weekend to say she got a a job at McDonalds, and they were so grateful for that blessing. 

Friday morning we woke up, packed, ran to the store, and then a couple from our ward came to pick us up so we could head down to the Keys. They had 3 stakes going, and missionaries from all over the mission. We all headed down to the Keys to camp for the weekend and serve with the Helping Hands. The lady we drove with told us that they had 270 registered volunteers, but most of them arrived on Saturday. The drive was about 4 and a half hours, so we got there around 5:30 pm. Sister Peterson and I were the only sisters there, and there were a couple of other missionaries from our zone so we spent a few hours clearing the church parking lot of trees and branches to make spaces for more cars to park as they arrived. After that we headed to the campground to set up our tent, but we found out that the owner of a nearby museum was going to allow the missionaries to stay in the museum so we would have air conditioning. That was a huge blessing! The Elders slept on one side of the museum, and the Sisters slept on the other. Most of the other ward members and stake leaders slept in the chapel down the street. It was quite the interesting experience to sleep in a museum. We were blessed with an air mattress, but it was still a little creepy to sleep surrounded by taxidermy. We had fun though, and we were so grateful for the AC. 

On Saturday morning we woke up around 4:45, got ready, and walked with the other missionaries from our zone to the chapel which was about 1/2 mile down the street. Somehow we got assigned to help with parking so we spent an hour and a half directing traffic. We were grateful when one of our ward members came to pick us up to head out with a work crew, we wanted to feel helpful! We headed out with our Bishop, a few members of our ward, and 3 of the Elders from our zone. We had an awesome work crew, and we did not stop! The first house we went to was right on the beach, and there was a fantastic view. There was trees and branches all over his yard, it took us about an hour and half to clear everything out and haul it to a huge pile on the main road. We spent the rest of the morning doing work orders like that one, mostly just tons of tree removal. We would use a chainsaw to cut the trees, and then carry the pieces out. 

After a quick lunch break we went to a house that had been affected really badly. The poor homeowner was feeling so overwhelmed because the water had come into her home, and the watermark was at about 2 feet. There was already mold growing on the walls, and all of her appliances were ruined. We helped her carry her things out, remove her appliances, then we all put on masks and took out the drywall and the insulation to prevent further mold growth. We felt  pretty official walking around with masks and scorers, but mostly it was just amazing to be able to help this poor woman in her time of need. By the time we finished her house was pretty bare, but a lot more manageable. At least she had something to work with. She was so so grateful for us, and was very emotional as we left her with a prayer. We were about to leave to go to the next work order, but a few of her neighbors stopped us and begged for help. They had some large trucks and cranes working their way slowly around the neighborhood to pick things up, and they needed help to get everything out before they arrived. We hauled more branches, furniture, and other things out of people's yards for a few hours. We finally burned out around 6. Just as we were leaving, there was a woman that came running up to us and begged us to come eat in a nearby parking lot where they were serving free dinner for all the volunteers. Who doesn't love free food? We headed over there, and had a delicious meal with some volunteers from other groups. It was so cool to see how people from all over, and all walks of life traveled down to the keys to help with cleanup. 

We returned to the campground that night, and they had set up a little portable shower. There was not much privacy, but we were grateful to be able to wash off. The mold did not smell good, and I am pretty sure I have never been so sweaty in my whole life! It was such a great day. To make things better they brought a tv over from the chapel and set up Women's Conference for the Sisters so we were able to watch it in the museum. What a great meeting!

Sunday morning we woke up early again, walked to the chapel for breakfast, then walked back to the campground for Sacrament meeting. They had us stand outside the museum in rows (kind of like pews) for the meeting. We have not been to actual church for 3 weeks now, but we have been blessed with the chance to take the sacrament every week. I have come to really treasure the few moments of respite it offers, no matter where we are. After the meeting we cleared our stuff out of the museum, cleaned it inside and out, then headed to the chapel to get assigned to our work crews. We ended up in a work crew with our Bishop again (he is awesome by the way), a few more ward members, and the same 3 Elders from our zone. The first house we went to was the worst one I have seen by far. The street looked like it was from a 3rd world country because the houses were so badly thrashed. This house was covered in smelly muck and seaweed, pretty much everything inside was ruined. We helped haul out furniture, and then the Elders helped her remove her fridge and her storage freezer. Even though we zip tied them closed the smell of rotten food was overpowering, and when you combined that with the seaweed and the muck it was absolutely disgusting. I felt so bad for the poor homeowner, but she was pretty positive about it. After that we helped a few more people on her street, and at one point a little Latin family came over to talk to us. They called me over to translate, it turns out they were in desperate need of food, water, and diapers. We gave them everything we had, and promised to return with more. We drove back to the church for more food, water, and hygiene kits, but realized we were out of diapers. I remembered (and I'm pretty sure it was the spirit) passing a chapel called Church of The Keys that had some free supplies, diapers included. We made a quick stop by that chapel on our way back, and they had plenty of diapers for this family. It was funny because inside this church they all kept saying "Oh! You're the Mormons! We love the Mormons!" It was so cool to see the missionary opportunities that will surely come from all this service. Anyway, we rushed back to this family with boxes of food, water, and diapers. They were so grateful, and promised to share with their family and friends. 

We spent the rest of the day with tree removal, and ended the day at a house that was built on stilts so the inside was fine, but the outside was a disaster. There was seaweed, debri, trash, and furniture from all over the place. A single woman lives there alone, so she was very grateful for our help. We got it mostly cleared up, and wished we could have stayed longer, but we still had a 4 hour drive home. We met our ride back at the chapel, drove home, took a MUCH needed shower, and tumbled into bed. 

This weekend has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It definitely helps you to sort out your priorities, and realize how blessed we are the things we have. I am so grateful that I was able to serve my brothers and sisters, and just to see the smiles on their faces made everything so worth it! Service is truly the quickest solution to happiness! I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Monson

 Hermana Monson and Sister Petersen

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