Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am alive and well.

Hello my dear, sweet family! 

This week has been an absolute adventure; full of joy and tears and every other emotion you could think of. Change sure is draining! As you know, this week was Sister Benson's last, so we were very sad about that. Sister Benson is one of my closest friends in a very sisterly way! I loved serving with her and became so close and comfortable around her that I finally felt like I was with my sissies again, Whitney, Macey, Addey and Amelia; it felt like heaven! She helped me in so many ways and was such a blessing to me, I know God planned for us to serve together and help each other to progress and grow even more. I adore her! I am so very thankful that God works through us, imperfect people to help each other. I know He guides us and blesses us with miraculous people to bless our lives. Don't miss all you can learn from the people in your life right now!

Yesterday was the transfer meeting. Have I ever described this process to you? So, basically on the Saturday before the transfer you get a call from your zone leaders. If you are being transferred they will talk to you and say, "Elder or Sister, you are going car or bike." And that's pretty much it. Then you hurry and pack up, say your goodbyes and prep for the meetingon MondayOn Monday, every companionship who got that call shows up at the Lake Oswego Stake Center with their belongings. We go into the chapel and everyone sits on the two rows of outside pews, leaving the center block completely open. It looks very bizarre! But, then there is a slideshow that they put up on the big projector to announce your new area and your new companion. Talk about a stressful and nerve-racking environment. Anyways, then you wait patiently for your name and picture to pop up on the big screen next to your new companion's name and face. So, yesterday, Sister Benson are sitting in our seats having hardcore anxiety problems and nearly in tears because she is leaving. We are just holding onto each other for dear life! Finally, my name popped up with Sister Berret's! (She was who we guessed would come be with me!) I finally felt peace as I stood up, hugged her and walked over to the middle pews to sit! Yeah, so everyone moves into the middle rows once they have a new companion. Then they do a cute little thing to honor the departing missionaries before they return home. There were several amazing missionaries going home this transfer and the Morby's too. It was a very emotional meeting for me, but I assure you, I feel much peace now! Since it was the Morby's goodbye, they invited the entire mission to attend. It was so fun to be together as our Mission Family and to feel the power of the spirit in that chapel. Sister Berrett is so great, I really enjoy her already! We came out at the same time, we were in the MTC together last July, but never in the same classes. She is from South Jordan, Utah, she plays the violin, she is really pretty, and she loves movie quotes. The last one was pretty comforting to me! She is great and we are going to have a wonderful time together. 

Sister Benson's family was here this weekend, which was super crazzzzzy. They arrived on Saturday evening. We were out and about doing our thing, they were supposed to call us when they got here and we would go let them into the house they're staying. We were out in a member's yard talking to them about a referral they had given us, not even near where her family was going to show up...so we thought. We are talking to the lady and suddenly, Sister Benson ducks down and screams. Haha! It was so hilarious. She yells, "I saw an RV!" I look up and wave, her family is here! They start honking and parked the car in the middle of the street and run out. It was so fun! I videoed their sweet little reunion, it really was special to be there. We spent quite a bit of time with them since their were lots of members who wanted to do dinners, barbecue's  and other little get together's for them. They are so sweet and loving, I really enjoyed them. 

Something I came to understand better this week is the role of Jesus Christ in helping us to understand who our Heavenly Father is. We know who God our Father is because of the way His Son lived his life, it is absolutely beautiful! We come to know who we are because we know where and who we came from. It was fun to see Sister Benson's family because it helped me to see and understand where she came from and to see that connection back to the importance of family. It was a really lovely lesson I learned, I don't know if it just came out lovely. Ha!

Well I love you all dearly, as you know. Mom's email this week wasn't very reassuring..."We may be too busy having a BLAST on our family vaca to write you..." Not a direct quote, quite possibly how my mind distorted it. Haha! Just kidding, you guys all have a blast being together and send some thoughts my way. I love you so much and I know family is the center of our life. I love ya. Each. And. Every. One. Of. You. 

xoxoxoxoxo, Sister Kerr <3

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I've never really liked change.

Hey fam! I literally have so very little time today. We have been running around getting pampered today on Sister Benson's last p-day as a missionary. It is so crazy to have her leaving so soon. I am very sad to be losing her, she has become one of my best friends as well. I have learned so much from our time here in the "refiner's fire" area together. We have become very close and have discovered lots of things about ourselves, haha! But really, I have discovered so much about myself in a spiritual sense with the help of Sister Benson. My testimony of my Savior has been strengthened from these past two transfers together and she has helped me to lay a stronger foundation that will help me continue to grow spiritually over time. I just love her and will miss her tons. The area will too!

This week was really great, very busy! We had zone conferences this week and we participated in the regional Dance Festival including 1200 youth. All 250 missionaries were one of the featured performances in all 4 of the showings. About halfway through the amazing dances, they had a young woman come up on the big screen and begin to share her testimony and explain why we share the gospel. Then, 250 missionaries walked out into the middle of the gymnasium and begin singing the song, "We'll Bring the World His Truth." It was such a beautiful, powerful experience to be able to take part in that. I loved it! People were crying and cheering for us, we really felt like celebrities. There were several nonmembers there who were able to feel the spirit so strongly! It was an incredible experience. 

Zone conferences were great too. It was President and Sister Morby's last ones, so the counselor in the Mission Presidency did a fun little trivia and presentation on them and all they brought to the mission and all they left behind for three years. We were all crying and laughing, reflecting on all the joy and all the miracles the Morby's have brought to the Oregon Portland Mission.

So much change is up ahead this week, I am feeling a lot of stress, so please pray for me! Sister Benson's family arrives on Saturday and we will be with them quite a bit that day and on Sunday. Then a new companion for me on Monday. And a new mission president and family the next week. Writing all that is making me tear up a bit. I have never, ever done well with change. Remember when I used to cry when we would get a new car, because that meant we had to get rid of the old one, even when the new one was needed...that's how I feel. I just want everything to stay the same because Sister Kerr is happy right now, I love right now. I know that change is needed for growth, but I am not sure what God is thinking putting me in a situation to experience this much change at once. I am really nervous, but anxiety and fear are not signs of faith. I am learning to trust that God does know more than me and will give me what will help me the most. Even if right now, it just seems like it is going to make me very sad and nervous! This will be good. This will be good. This will be good. I will survive. 
{I love her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}

I need to run, sorry this is catching you so very late! I probably will not be emailing on Monday next week because of transfers, but hey, maybe I'll surprise you! Once again, I had no time to write any letters. I am sorry! I promise you, I really want to write you a letter. I love you all, so very, very, very much! 

xoxooxox, Sister Kerr <3

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let the spirit guide.

Little high, little low. Little hey, little ho. (I really enjoyed starting off like Stuart Little last week, so I may make this a regular, at least for a bit!)

This week was absolutely marvelous, for so many reasons that I really cannot even begin to articulate why.It is impossible to describe and explain all that has effected me and helped me to have this spiritual breakthrough, but there were a few specific experiences that really changed me this week that I have pinpointed. I'll share those! I feel like I have been in the refiner's fire for a time and am now finally seeing some growth and change within myself. Thank gosh, it has all been worth it!

On Friday this week we had our monthly Mission Leadership Council with about 40 of the missionaries and President and Sister Morby. This was only my second time attending, but I really look forward to these meetings. The spirit is unbelievable there and I just feel so close to my Heavenly home while there. This one was extra special because it was the last one that President and Sister Morby would preside at. When endings begin to be insight, it always seems that you really get to see, feel and appreciate a person's passion for their work. That was so true at this meeting; true of the Morby's, but also true of every single missionary there. The end of the Morby's time has brought a lot of thought and emotions and we really were able to recommit, I absolutely loved it! The words that were spoken throughout that day were an answer to so many of my silent prayers and pleas to my Father in Heaven. I am always hesitant to tell you, but I was really having a rough couple of weeks (I am so good now though, so you cannot worry!). That is kind of weird for me. I have always been very on top of things, in control, calm and generally, able to handle everything that I encounter with a good amount of ease. As my dear family knows, I enjoy being in control. That explains why I have always had such an intense fear of falling. Haha, yes, I remember those days at Darien Lake when I was wrapped around the railing of any ride that involved a falling motion, where my stomach would fly up. Yes, you all remember me hating those and making an absolute scene. Well, I have realized that I have that same problem spiritually. I hate feeling out of control and I dislike feeling that I have to rely on someone else to keep me safe. I think throughout my mission so far, I have been peeled off "my railing" and am now experiencing the roller-coaster fall feeling. But, this is SO good for me. For the first time in my life, I am really having to rely on my Savior, Jesus Christ. I was thinking about Peter from the New Testament a lot this week and the faith he had to walk on water to Christ. What powerful faith! I began to doubt my own faith and felt like I lacked so much strength. I thought of Peter and that first unnerving step he took off the ship towards Christ. Logically, his ship was a lot safer of a place than the ocean. What motivated him to leave that? I thought of the comforts of my life before and how safe and comfortable and familiar it was. It was a place where I could be in total control, but I wasn't growing the way I needed to, I wasn't coming to Christ as much as I could, now that I have left that God helped me to understand that I took that step similar to Peter's, when coming on my mission - I have faith! Fear is what made Peter falter and it is the same for me. I am so eternally grateful for my mission and for the opportunity it has given me to experience the fall. Now I understand Christ's role in my life, he can bring me more stability and peace than I ever brought myself. I need Him!

sidenote: things significantly improved in my life once I learned this lesson. Hah, I know I alluded to something similar last week, but I still did not get it. I get it now! 

...how my life improved.

I had the spirit with me so much more. I have never felt so guided in my life as much as I did after the meeting Friday and  on Saturday. We went out to meet and contact people Friday night and we "ran into" the most amazing people. God totally sent us there. Saturday was amazing! We went by to go see Florita since we had told her we would still help her with service even though she is not interested in learning anymore. I really do not have the words (or the time) to try and describe what happened there, but I know it was the handiwork of God. I had read a random, super old talk that morning in my study time and it was the perfect answer to her questions and problems. Finding that specific talk was so guided, haha, it is so amazing to know who is in control. Thank goodness it isn't me anymore! Anyways, I just want you to know that you, my family, prepared me for that lesson too, in such an incredible and personal way. Florita's struggles are things that we have dealt with and have brought us closer. She and I cried throughout the whole lesson, because it was a topic that was so close to my heart. It was such a special experience. 

Second experience on Saturday that really changed me! We parked our car at the church and were walking down the street to a member's friends home where they were having a graduation party. We didn't have anywhere to go for dinner, so they told to stop by and grab some food. It was after 7, so we were pretty hungry and ready to eat when we parked. We were walking along, got to the driveway, but both continued to walk, like it was the most logical thing we had done all day. It was so bizarre. So, we just walked past and decided we would eat later or not eat...in retrospect it made no sense, since that was the purpose of us being there. We then start talking about tracting and how it seems perfectly logical to do that right now, especially since we had nothing with us. Every thought that kept coming into our head felt so natural and just like, of course we would do that. Haha! Of course we would walk right past our dinner appointment, of course we would walk towards no end goal, of course we would then run across the street and climb through a ditch of rocks to go into this development. Of course. Long story short, we met Mark. He is from Germany and is absolutely amazing. He had just been talking to his LDS friend about Mormon Missionaries the day before, which was random, because he had never met any  before. So, when he answered the door, he looked at us funny, almost like, "Is this a joke, since I was just talking about you yesterday?" We had the most amazing and open conversation that I have ever had on my mission. He asked us what we believe faith is.We asked him what he believes the purpose of life to be. He very humbly responded that he did not know. He knows we have this desire to improve and do to good, he feels that is the purpose. We asked him what motivates us to do that, why do we have those desires within us. He was unsure and was totally open that he was unsure. He is one of the most humble people I have ever met becasue he was willing to admit he did not know, but (this is key!) he expressed a desire to know. We explained and shared scriptures from the Book of Mormon with him on his doorstep and offered him one (which we didn't even have a spare with us). He said yes and really wants to read it. We promised him that he could discover the purpose of life by reading that book and by praying to God. It was absolutely amazing. So, we dashed the long walk back to the car, grabbed a Book of Mormon and dashed back to his house to deliver it to him. He is so sincere and genuine and a sincere and genuine seeker of truth and so humble! I know, without a doubt, he will receive answers. 

Story that branches off that one, which is super cool because it shows we were destined to meet Mark (at least I see it that way)! >>> On Wednesday, Sister Benson and I felt so strongly that we need to somehow involve the members more and help change the ward in that way. We prayed and asked God what members we should specifically begin to work with. Several people came to my mind and I wrote them all down, most of them were leaders in the ward that I felt would make a good example to everyone. Brother Daines came to my mind, and it just seemed really random, so I wrote him down at the very end. We were at our dinner appointment on Sunday with the Daines. They were asking us about people we are teaching. We told them the amazing story of Mark, with all the details and bore our testimonies of how amazing and spiritual it was. Come to find out, Brother Daines served his mission in Germany and he works at the same place as Mark over in Portland. Coincidence? Definitely not. The Holy Ghost is guiding, I am finally letting him and look how incredible the results are! 

{Just a couple of bunnies}
Sorry it took so long for me to send an Easter picture!
I love being a missionary. Know that I have spent all of my time writing stories, I have no time left. I hope you can feel of my testimony in the stories I shared, I hope they make sense! I know that God lives, loves us and will do anything for us. I know that Christ has redeemed us and now, I really know we can have a personal relationship with Him. I know the Holy Ghost is given to us as a gift to guide and direct our lives and lead us, literally, to wherever will bring us the most joy. I really have a testimony of that too now! 

My loves, carry on! You all motivate and encourage me in ways you do not know! 

xoxo, Sister Kerr

Monday, June 2, 2014

Faith building experiences are hard.

Little high, little low. Little hey, little ho. 

I found a beautiful scripture that I love! I'll start with that. It is in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 9:25. At this point, Mormon is talking to his son, Moroni and telling him of all the wickedness and evil in the world that will eventually lead to the destruction of his people. He says, "My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever." The stumbling blocks of the world can either build our faith and we can be lifted through Christ, or we can fear and fall. I know that our Savior is here to lift us and this week I have really been figuring out how He can lift me personally. I feel that I have been teaching and testifying to people of how He can save them from falling, but had yet to figure out how that can apply to me in a more personal way. I wish that I could just drop all of my thoughts and feelings from this week into each of your heads so you could understand the growth and understanding I have developed. I have learned SO much and I am truly beginning to understand the power that faith has. Faith in Christ is a power, not just something that is nice to have and a comfort, but truly a power that can change things. I was struggling to see how I have faith and feeling that mine is not very strong. I had an amazing study though, that I would recommend to all of you! It helped me to see my faith in a more measurable and tangible way. I searched and read several scriptures that talked about faith and then searched out the specific action that was being talked about in that scripture. Then I asked myself, "Ok, have I done that action before?" If yes, then yay! I do have faith. If no, then yay! I now had a specific action I could take that would cause me to exercise faith. Try it! Faith is hard. So hard. But, like I said, it is a power and it is worth it.
This week started off with a super great experience. Monday evening, our plans all fell through so we had decided that if that happened, we would go and find someone new to teach! We were walking through this parking lot at an apartment complex, there were lots of people getting home from their Memorial Day adventures. We tried several times to strike up a conversation with these people, to no success. Haha, nobody wanted to talk to us. Some would start talking, then soon after see our name tags and nearly run away or throw out funny excuses of why they needed to take off. It was quite funny, but really irritating too. Come on, we are fairly normal! So, we keep walking around and decide we want to really follow what God wanted us to be doing. Sister Benson told me to pick a door that I felt inclined to go and knock on, since street contacting was not working. We walk for a bit more, then I say, "Ok. 607, that's the one!" So we climb the flight of stairs and knock, and wait. This young girl, about 18, comes out and is so interested! Oh my gosh, it was so cool. We stood and talked with her about the Book of Mormon and showed her the video, "Because of Him" for about 15 minutes. She could not wait to start reading the Book of Mormon and to meet with us again. Moments like that just make everything worth it. We were able to talk to someone who was wanting, searching and yearning to know. I love letting the spirit guide!

Well. We had a heart breaker the next day. Like, reall heart breaker. We went to see Florita again, we were going to help her go through her belongings so she can get rid of her storage unit. We climbed the stairs to her apartment and see on the front porch her large print Book of Mormon we had brought by and a book from Relief Society. Well, she was either studying outside this morning, or she is about to kick us to the curb. It was the latter. I still feel like I am about to cry as I think about it. Florita opened her door, started to explain to us how she needs to stop meeting with us through her teary eyes. She explained how hard it is for her to turn people away, but she can't do it anymore because she was raised differently and doesn't feel comfortable. We are pretty sure her kids talked to her and convinced her that we were a bad influence. She felt so guilty and was torn between them or us, so it is understandable. Our hearts ached as she handed us the books back and we told, yet another wonderful woman, how much we love her and that we still want to keep in touch and help her in anyway she needs. We drove away and the tears just poured down out. Not again! I was so sad and wondering how many more times my heart can handle this, how many more people can I love and then let them turn away? I again felt a little of how the Savior must feel when so many turned away from Him and still turn away from Him. Each time it happens, it is after they have a wonderful experience with the spirit, then they become afraid of change and turn and run, as if it had never happened. My spirit is lifted in joy when they experience the power of the Holy Ghost and love it, but then totally and utterly crushed when they turn away from it. It's ok though. It put me in a position where I could really figure out why I am here and let myself be humbled enough to trust God more than myself. Missionary work is most definitely not easy or convenient. It is hard and draining and it sometimes runs you until you feel broken and like there is absolutely nothing left within your heart to give. I felt like I was experiencing a trust fall with God this whole week. Experiences were pulling my feet out from under me and I was falling, I tried using all of my own resources. Tried and tried and tried, until I really felt beat. And I was falling, hard! Without falling, I never could have been caught by God though. When we feel like we have nothing left to give, we finally are humble enough to tell God, "Alright, that was it, I have nothing left in me. No more love to give, no more ideas of things to do. No more words to speak. Nothing, I have given my all and am finally recognizing that I do need your help." I definitely got to that point this week and I felt so weak! I am so grateful for that though. I needed to be humbled, I needed to recognize that I cannot do this on my own. I finally let myself fall into God's arms. My faith and my heart is becoming stronger because of these experiences, these difficult experiences. 

I love you all so very much. I have to get going! I am doing great and am seriously so beyond thankful for this time I have been given to learn so much. I feel so blessed. Thank you for my letters, emails and packages this week! They brought me so much joy and I felt so close to each of you who reached out to me. You really are inspired in your words, they always speak something sweet and needed to my spirit. I love you forever and always!
{Wonderful Sister Benson and I}

xoxox, Sister Kerr