Thursday, March 27, 2014

Much has been learned.

Hey, family and anyone else reading this week! Here we are, another
week into the Portland Adventure and it is going oh so good! I really
loved this week and have come to love the Aloha 2nd Ward and my
companion and teaching and the people we are teaching and Oregon and
the weather and WORKING HARD. There is nothing that feels better than
working my very hardest in the service of my God. I love that I have
the opportunity to do that! This week I am most grateful that Heavenly
Father chooses to work through imperfect people to accomplish His work
here on earth. By allowing us to be involved in His work, we learn
more than we would any other way! I never ever saw myself on a mission
(not that I was opposed to it, just never even imagined it), but now I
cannot even picture my life without THESE experiences. I know Heavenly
Father helped me to get out here because there was a lot He needed me
to learn out here. One of those "things" is the deep love He has for
me. I don't think I ever will fully grasp the depth of the love He has
for me, but I really never EVER would have understood it even in the
slightest without the experiences I've had here in Oregon. I get to be
His hands and bear witness to so many that they are loved and
important to the Most High being in the universe. That HE knows their
name and their life. In so doing, I have come to know that is true of
me as well. I know it with all my heart and nothing brings me more joy
than bringing a fellow person to that knowledge as well! Here is one
of my favorite passages from the Book of Mormon that I want to share!

Alma 26:12-13

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak;
therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for
in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles
we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name

13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the
pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this
because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not
great reason to rejoice?

Is their anything more desirable than "singing redeeming love"? I
really don't think so. Christ has released us from that pain and
brought us to a place where we can sing that redeeming love. He has
given us His word. "Have we not great reason to rejoice?" We do, we
do! We can rejoice eternally through living His teachings that are
found in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. So do it! Strive to live
His teachings, come to know HIM as He has come to know us, pray, read
His teachings in the scriptures, and heed the counsel of His
latter-day prophets. We have so much to do and so little time to
accomplish it all!

Now somehow apply all that, I hope it made sense. Onto this week.

We had zone conference this week. It was the Beaverton West zone
(mine) and all of the Spanish speaking missionaries! That was a bit of
a twist on the regular meeting. It was SO good though. I love zone
conference, probably because I am in love with my mission president
and his wife. They are the most wonderful parents in all of Oregon!
The spirit was so strong there and Sister Porter and I both gained
great new insight to help with those that we are teaching. Have I
mentioned I have the sweetest companion ever? Somehow I seem to get
all the amazing sisters in the mission! She's a music guru and writes
her own lyrics and music. She wrote a new song to perform at this
conference and it was beautiful! I wish I could send a recording of
it. I would love to claim some piece of it, but my only claim is that
I did get to help critique it a bit. Oh, I did help pick her outfit
before the conference, that's always a big deal! After the meeting,
Sister Morby, the mission president's wife, came out on a lesson with
us, which was so fun! We brought her to Holly's lesson where we had an
awesome discussion on eternal families and modern day prophets. Holly
is so excited to be baptized, mostly because she CANNOT wait to be
sealed to her family in the temple for time and all eternity. Their
family is beyond sweet, I am so grateful that I've been able to spend
so much time with them :)

This week we went tracting for the first time in quite awhile and it
was so good! We went for about an hour and talked with two people for
basically the entire time. The theme of this tracting experience was
that people remember how you treat them!! Both of these people we
talked with for so long, had old friends and acquaintances who were
members of the church. They both had had great interactions with them
and were therefore curious and willing to talk with us for nearly a
half hour each! It was so sweet. I now have a much stronger testimony
about planting seeds. Even when you try over and over to bring the
gospel to someone, it is still their choice if they want to accept it.
However, the impression you leave on them will determine if they are
willing to listen to two girls on their doorstep. I don't know if this
will go anywhere, but I do know that the Spirit was there with us and
they could feel it. The impact their friends of the past made opened
up an opportunity for them to feel the Spirit again! Keep being a
positive influence, they WILL remember it!

One of the women we are working with returned from her three week
vacation this week. She left RIGHT after we committed her to some
pretty big changes, so when we saw her this week, it was pretty nerve
racking to see how she was feeling about it all. The outcome was
picture perfect though! She couldn't wait to see us, and when we saw
her she informed us that she "is all in!" Hallelujah! She said she is
no longer being a member half-heartedly, but she is ready to be
completely active again because she recognizes the difference in her
life! I am so proud of her and so excited for the blessings she will

We have been teaching a lot about the word of wisdom lately, as you
have probably noticed from my emails. At times it seems like so much
to ask of people, but even thinking that is mocking what the Savior
has done for us. I know that through Him, we can obey any commandment,
regardless of how insanely hard it may seem. He has felt those
addictions and has felt our pains. And guess what. He overcame them.
He offers His divine help to assist us through our trials too! Since
We have been teaching this so much, I came to the realization that I
have never really had to give anything up before. I decided I'm going
to do it because I want to know how it feels to give up something you
really want. Every member of my family...brace yourselves. I gave up
sugar. GASP. I know, can you believe that? And anytime I want something
delicious and sweet (always), I imagine this woman we're working with
and how badly she wants to go out and smoke! And now I have to put up
with people offering it to me ALL the time, just as she does, and I
have to painfully decline. Remember, I live with a cooking genius who
caters and I swear specials in desserts! I'm doing it for forty days!
Woohoo, then I can finally understand what it feels like to have to go
without on something I REALLY want to have. I dare you to try it too!
It's really cool to think about how when we are spiritually driven to
do something, we can accomplish it. I am proving to my body and brain
that my spirit is stronger!

Well, I love y'all tons and tons! You mean so much to me and I love
the closeness that I feel to you as I am out here serving away. I know
that our Father lives and loves us and wants us to experience joy.
Seek after the joy He wants for us and your life will improve! I can't
wait to live with my family for all eternity and with our Heavenly
Father too. What a bright and happy future we have to look forward to.
I have the lyrics to a song stuck in my head, it says, "If we are
faithful we are promised all the Father has." What a beautiful
promise, let us live up to it and be FAITHFUL.

Love you! Xoxoxo,
Sister Kensey Kerr

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

8 months as of today!

Hello, hello! I know I say this pretty much every week, but I really
cannot believe I am sitting here writing another email already.
Goodness, I feel like I have written a hundred of these things already
and that the last one was just two days ago! So you have a nice
visual, I am sitting on my twin sized bed, my mustard yellow journal
open on my lap, my stack of Pringles from home next to me, the
springtime sun coming through my window and while I look around
because of the lack of motivation I have to do this right now I tend
to keep staring at my calendar from Whitney with pictures of Pepper
pulling faces at me. Pure joy. And I promise I am not being sarcastic,
I love this! The weather has been absolutely beautiful this week, I
don't know what all this garbage is about "it never stops
raining"because my mission experience has been absolutely beautiful!
It rains quite a bit, but not enough to complain about especially when
keeping in mind all this sunshine we have experienced this week!
However, i do think that there is a correlation between the weather
and appointments. Last week was like the most beautiful thing ever,
but we had like he slowest week ever. People must not want to get
together when it's so nice. Praying for rain it is then :)

Like I said, this week was kind of slow, the highlights may be a little lame...

Today I ate tomato soup cake. Try and restrain yourself from gagging
as you read that last sentence. I sure had to when I was told that's
what it was! It was so good, but why would you do that? It was the
birthday cake of a boy named Steven. We have been working with
Steven's family for a very long time, he went away to a military
school for the last three months and was finally home to visit. It is
SO touching when people we are working with invite us to their special
events like this. I really have felt so loved in all of my areas on my
mission. I know that they feel the love that Heavenly Father has for
them whenever the missionaries are around! I am so happy to be a part
of that for them.

We had another lesson with Shauntah! She is such an awesome woman, I
have learned so much from her especially about patience, persistence,
determination and independence. Even if her family isn't completely
interested, she really is seeking truth for herself. I love that!
Now, more than ever before in my life, I think it is so important to
seek answers for yourself and decide things on your own. There is no
way to know truth, except to actually go to the source of all truth,
God, and ask Him. What an incredible opportunity prayer is when you
think about it that way!

We had district meeting today and Sister Porter was asked to give the
spiritual thought. She gave it on companionship unity and it was so
good! I have like pretty much the best companions EVER. This girl
especially is just amazing. She is my best friend right now and today
I got to look back and really see how far she has come. She is an
incredible missionary. Cannot wait for you all to meet this sweet
companion of mine!

We had a lesson with Shauntah's daughter today! It was great, she and
Shauntah both loved it. We love being in their home, even when it is
beyond hectic. I know they feel the spirit or else they would
definitely not keep inviting us back, because our presence sometimes
causes a lot of chaotic excitement! Haha, they are awesome and making
good progress :)

We did so much service this week, especially on Friday. I think we
served like five different women this week, it was awesome! We had
been praying for more opportunities to serve the people we are
teaching and bah-boom, here it is! I love doing service, it is so fun
for these people to see us in a different context and they begin to be
themselves a little more, to express their concerns more openly
because they don't feel so intimidated by us anymore. I LOVE it, it
makes such a huge difference in the relationship!

I received the greenest of green packages in existence today! It was
so fun! My family is the best family, no argument there. There were so
many fun St. Patrick's Day goodies. It is always so nice to know they
are thinking of me! Your letters help me to see the changes that have
happened in myself and I am now recruiting ALL of you to make sure
those changes stay. I don't want to lose the person I have become
here. Got it? Thank you.

There was a funny part of church. We were asked to go help in primary
in one of the classes, which is always interesting. So, we go into the
classroom and start talking about how fun it is to be a missionary and
how they can prepare to be missionaries too. All of the kids are
beyond excited for us to be there, except for one, Halle. She is
sitting silently in her chair with a scowl, similar to a Whitney
scowl. In my most excited, kid-targeted voice I say, "Isn't church so
fun?" The first person I look at is Halle and with a grim face, she
starts shaking her head back and forth, ever so slowly. I could just
see the wheels turning in her head as she is registering how not fun
this situation was. I love this girl! She is far from a just go with
the crowd girl, she totally and openly expresses what she is thinking.
It was great!

I know it doesn't look like we did a whole lot, but we stayed busy all
week! And it was good busy. I know with all of my heart that this
church is true and I have especially come to gain a strong testimony
of the Book of Mormon. I love that book and the knowledge I gain as I
read it! I extend the challenge to you all again to read that book
with me while I am out here! It will only help you, promise!

I love you all and hope you're having a happy week! Read and pray everyday.

Xoxoxo, Sister Kensey Pence Kerr

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sweet is the work.

Hello, everyone! I cannot believe it is Monday again and I am emailing
AGAIN! It has been a marvelous week, I just love it here.

This week we had another lesson with Shauntah. We taught her about the
word of wisdom and committed her to living it...that was a mega act of
faith for us to do that, since she hasn't even said yes to baptism
yet. I know that giving her the opportunity to keep more of God's
commandments will just allow her to be more blessed. I was studying
the word of wisdom a lot before we went and taught it and the
overlying theme was that it allows our spirit to be in control of our
body and for us to more easily do His will rather than ours. Shauntah
wants to receive answers so badly and I know that this will help her
to get those answers. But, it was TERRIFYING to do. I was so afraid
that it was going to scare her off. I've only ever taught the word of
wisdom after the person has already accepted baptism and is
progressing to that! It may have scared her off, we haven't found out
yet, but I am applying more faith in this situation than I ever have
before. I believe with all my heart that what we taught her is true,
we as her teachers, just have to wait for Heavenly Father to answer
her. Ay! So, all of you know that I have major control issues, I just
like to be in charge of the outcome and have everything in line to go
exactly how I want. This is my humbling moment, I think. I have to
have the faith that Heavenly Father is in control and he loves
Shauntah, more than I do. I was just going to say, "I'm so nervous,"
but that would show a lack of faith. So I will change that to, "I know
it will work out!" :)

We had dinner with a family in the ward tonight, I can't remember if I
told you about them last time, but if I did, it was the story of the
huge jumping dog. Anywho. This week when we had dinner with them they
invited their neighbor's kids over. Their last name is Ferree. But
when we say it, it generally comes out as "The Furry Children." Which
makes them sound like little monsters. Not completely a lie, hahah.
One of them wrestled Sister Porter and was climbing on top of her and
swinging arms to get a piece of paper from her. I was in eye contact
with Sister Porter the entire time and it was HILARIOUS. Like in the
dog story, the owners of the home said nothing. Even better!

Nighttime is the hardest thing ever to fill! I swear, everyone goes to
bed at like 8 here, so we have to have set appointments, drop ins are
just too bizarre for most people. So, whenever someone wants to set an
appointment, we always try and shimmy them down to 7 or 8, that's
always our priority time to fill. On Tuesday we had our evening booked
with appointments and guess what, they all called and cancelled. No!
We tried several people who are semi-ok with drop-ins, nothing!
Remember this and I will now tell you the second part that leads into
this amazing story. Last week we received a referral for a woman named
Rozlyn. It came through to our phone. We immediately tried
contacting it, several times and came to the conclusion that no one
lived in this home. It always looked so so empty! Alright, so back to
our completely bare Tuesday night. We decided to try driving by
Roslyn's home ONE more time, because to be honest, we had absolutely
nothing better to do. We drove over to her little neighborhood and
guess what. You got it, there was a car on the driveway. Oh my gosh,
who cares that it is now 8:20pm and pitch black and this will be our
first impression? We sure didn't, she was home and that was a miracle!
We go up and knock and a sweet older woman answers the door. She
ushered us in quickly and greeted us like she knew us. She proceeded
to tell us that now wasn't a great time, then her eyes began to well
up with tears as she tried to fight them back. While biting her lip,
she said, "He just passed this morning." My heart just sank as I felt
just a smidgen of the agony this woman was feeling. We asked if we
could come back the next day, gave this woman we hardly knew a big hug
and left. My heart ached for her and I began to understand a little
bit of how it pains our Heavenly Father to see us in pain. It really
hurt to see a sister of mine in such a sad and lonely state, it was so
hard to leave her! The next morning, we went to see her again and
found out that she is a member! She has lived in the ward for three
years, but never transferred her records up. Her daughter who lives in
CA was the one who sent us the referral for her. Rozlyn told us that
her husband had been in the hospice for nearly a year and that he was
the one who passed away that day. She proceeded to tell us that she
had been pretty much living there to be with him as much as possible.
Last night, was her first time home and she was bringing all of his
belongings home. She had just walked in the door, unloaded all of his
things, walked into the living room and been surrounded by his
pictures, when she felt completely alone and reality hit her. Then she
heard a knock. (I'm crying right now, and I'm sure mom and dad are
too!) Two young girls, with no appointments that night, who showed up
solely on a prompting were on her doorstep because Heavenly Father
needed Rozlyn to know that she is NOT alone. That she is loved. That
He knows her and He will be there to help her eternally. I can't fully
comprehend how Rozlyn felt and how much that helped her, but as she
tearfully told us her version of the story, my heart swelled to know
that I was a vessel in the hands of the Lord that night. My testimony
has been forever strengthened that Heavenly Father does have a plan.
Regardless of if the experience seems completely pointless and
worthless at the time (all of our appointments canceling), I promise
it is leading you where you will learn the most and be the happiest!
Let Him lead you to joy!

Enough with the tissue story. I was given a pretty sweet souvenir this
week. You all are gonna laugh so hard at me, but you know how much I
love unique, antiquey looking things. Well I found my wedding dress
right here in Oregon! Haha. We were doing service for a less active
member by cleaning her garage out. And low and behold there it was!
She for it second hand at a thrift shop for $15. Then she gave it to
me! It is so perfect, but guess what. It doesn't look good on...yes,
of course I tried it on and yes, I waited until I got home. It didn't
look good, so sorry, I won't be mailing a wedding dress home to you

This ward is full of such wonderful people! I love it here and am so
grateful for the time I have had to serve here and the lessons I have
learned. People are so strong and so faithful, I will forever be
grateful for their examples. So many amazing things have happened
here, I can't even begin to explain it! It is so frustrating to know
that no one will ever understand my experience here because it cannot
be portrayed in words. I'm trying though.

I love you guys! Xoxoxo. You are amazing and I cannot wait to spend
forever with you!

Love, Sister Kerr

P.s. This song is my theme this week!

1. Each life that touches ours for good, Reflects thine own great
mercy, Lord; Thou sendest blessings from above Thru words and deeds of
those who love.

2. What greater gift dost thou bestow, What greater goodness can we
know Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways Strengthen our faith,
enrich our days.

3. When such a friend from us departs, We hold forever in our hearts A
sweet and hallowed memory, Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

4. For worthy friends whose lives proclaim Devotion to the Savior's
name, Who bless our days with peace and love, We praise thy goodness,
Lord, above.

(Each Life That Touches Ours for Good)

P.s.s. WHITNEY COPELAND sent me the most wonderful letter in the
world. I love you my big sissy!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Here's another week in the life of Sister Kensey Kerr.

Hello! It has been another fabulous week here in Aloha. The work is
going so well and I am so happy here. I will share some of the
highlights of this week :)

This week I learned a very valuable lesson for a missionary to learn.
I figured out that it is our job to assist and help people on their
path to change, but not to fix it. I have realized that I am such a
fixer. I just want to solve all the solutions and move on from the
situation. But here, everything is out of my control. I can't "just
fix" all these people's lives and then be done, but I have to help
them to see how our Savior can help us each in our lives to overcome
our challenges. Our role is to bring relief and comfort, when we can
remove their troubles. That's a hard lesson to learn because that
means what I am doing is darn near immeasurable. I am the type of
person that really appreciates seeing tangible results, that isn't
missionary work! I'm assuming this will be a lesson that I will use
the rest of my life, glad to learn it now :)

The Heslop's had their grandsons here to stay while their mom was out
of town, so the sister missionaries were booted out. It was actually a
lot of fun to go have a slumber party at a different ward members
home. Sister Shaw is single and made us the most wonderful, big, comfy
beds to stay in for three nights. It was so thoughtful. I have met so
many service-oriented people who are just so willing to open up and
share with others! Reminds me of good old Mama Kerr :) I have also
learned another valuable lesson on my mission. I strongly dislike dogs
and cats. They are ridiculous! They're disgusting, so much work and a
lot of the times just a nuisance. This woman had the creepiest cat
ever that would follow me around in the mornings and whenever I
stopped walking it would come sit on my feet. Ugh, it was gross.

Our 8 year old investigator let us come back and have another lesson
this week! It had been a few weeks since we had done the first lesson,
so we planned to review it. At the beginning, she told is she didn't
remember anything we taught her, so we went over it all...she totally
remembered it ALL! I love teaching kids, they are like sponges and
they just always make sure to make us feel loved! The next day we want
back and had a lesson with her mother. It was so awesome. They both
are really thinking about baptism. The mom said she actually finds
herself thinking about it quite a bit. They LOVE the Book of Mormon
and read it every night and pray together. We committed them to
praying specifically about if they should be baptized. I am, so excited
for them. They are an awesome family! We had an amazing member join us
for that lesson, it helped so much and they formed a pretty quick
friendship. I love when things work out how God wants them too.

Guess what. We have two people with a baptism date! Holy goodness, we
are so excited! They will be getting baptized in April, when her
family can come into town for it. They are so excited. It has been
incredible watching this family progress. I wish you all could be here
with me to watch and enjoy all of these people I am meeting!

We had another incredible lesson with our 13 year old investigator!
She THE most inquisitive and mature teenager I have ever met. This
amazing girl is such a sincere seeker of truth. She asks the most
awesome questions and is so appreciative of the answers we give and
the answers the Book of Mormon gives. She has been praying daily and
she shared a lame awesome experiences with us that she has had to
bring her closer to Heavenly Father and bring more peace and comfort
into her life. She can't wait to keep learning and she accepted an
invitation to be baptized. She is praying to know if she should :)

We started teaching a new woman this week who probably in her fifties.
Her daughter lives in Louisiana and has a husband and four sons. They
were all baptized in October. The mother, the one we're teaching now
just went and visited them recently and saw something much different
in them. She is very curious to know what caused this change in her
daughter's family. Ah ah, it's the gospel of Jesus Christ! She had a
lot of misconceptions about the Book of Mormon and so far that is her
biggest hang up. Alas, we explained them all and explained that she
can come to know if the book is true herself. She took us up on the
promise given in Moroni and is going to read and pray. She very
happily set up a return appointment, and was trying to get off work to
come to church the very next day.

It was a good week. I know that because by the time I got into my bed
on Saturday night, my face muscles were beyond sore from smiling so
big and so sincerely for so long! If that's my biggest complaint, life
is pretty darn good.

I love you all. SO MUCH. I appreciate all you do for me and all you do
to serve those around you. I know we are here to support and love one
another, keep it up! Read and pray, I know our Father will answer you,
no matter how small of a prayer it may be. Happy thoughts are being
sent your way everyday.

Sister Kensey Kerr