Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happy Summer!

Hello, my loves!

I am a little flustered that it has been a whole entire week again already and I am here emailing you again! Time is so weird. This week has been a good and crazy one!

I wanted to start off though with something that Sister Berrett and I were talking about this morning. I want to thank my family, especially my parents, for being so wonderful. I met a lot of people this week who have been through some really insane and difficult things in regards to family relationships. Life can be so hard! But, I am so grateful for you! I am so thankful to have been raised in a home where each of us were best friends with each other and we wanted to be around one another. I feel SO blessed. Like really, SO BLESSED. I know it is not just chance though! I know that family relationships can and will be the strongest when based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. Even the simplest of things were enjoyed and loved when we were together as a family! Even stacking firewood... So thanks, Mom and Dad for teaching us to love our FAMILY. Muah! You all are very love-able!

This week has had some really, really great things go on! We have been playing Ultimate Frisbee every Monday night with some members and bringing some of the people we are teaching, mainly teens. It has been so much fun and it has helped them so much to have good interaction. It really feels like we are creating a little family with them! Same concept as the paragraph before...when you love people, it doesn't matter what you are doing with them, you are happy! Even though we all kind of stink at it, it is still so fun to be with each other. There is a special feeling that abides in a family setting that really cannot be replaced and I think everyone craves it, especially a lot of these younger people we have been teaching who come from different backgrounds. I love being around the people we work with and watching them be healed. I want to do this type of thing for a living for the rest of my life!!!!

One of the women we are working with is finally beginning to progress! She has been meeting with the missionaries for years...and nothing has ever come of it. She is not really willing to take action. We have been focusing on her a lot and she has opened up to us and trusts us! It is so amazing, I just love her SO much. Her life story is heartbreaking and makes me cry, but I know Christ can heal her, so we are not going to give up on her! We finally were able to have her meet a member from the congregation which was miraculous! We have been trying to set this up for ages. And ages. And ages! Early this week she called us, really afraid and crying - there were just some hard things going on for her. We asked her what we could come over and help her with to keep her distracted and so she would have someone to talk to. She said we could help with laundry. Laundry it is! We were going to go over to the laundromat with her and do it there, but then we had a brilliant idea! Let's do it at a members house. We called up a member who has kids the same age and she said it was absolutely fine! I am sososososo happy this finally worked! We went over and helped her for about an hour while all the kids played together, then we had to go - but she got to stay and develop a friendship in the ward!! Lindsay was the happiest thing on earth after that day and throughout the rest of the week. Seriously, such an improvement! I am SO happy. 

We did so very much service this week, which was just great. We did some type of service for someone at least once a day and sometimes a lot more than that. It really is incredible for me to see people's hearts be changed and see them open up to us as we serve them. I love people and am so grateful we can express it to them in this way!  On Saturday, we started the day off at our next door neighbor's, helping her paint her bed frame. She is so amazing, I care so much for her as we served her and helped her and heard her story. People are so incredible. Then, we headed over to the retirement home and helped them play bean bag toss. Haha! They are so funny, I love it there! Then, we spent pretty much the rest of the day at the community Party in the Park! Woohoo! It was so much fun! I was assigned to paint faces...I have no idea what they were thinking. I ended up being pretty decent. It was so awkward though when I would finish, hold up the mirror for the kid, and excitedly say, "Doesn't it look good!" Then they would just half smile and slide off the bench. NO! I'm sorry! Even worse though, was the parents breathing down my back watching. All I could think was, "Look, I know you are most likely better than me at this. But, I am the one wearing the bright blue volunteer shirt, so please, STEP ASIDE." And even worse than that, was when one of the parents would ask you to paint their own face...oh gosh. Let's have your child do it instead, then I don't need to be blamed for this. haha! It was an overall great time. We then were assigned over to the inflatables. My inflatable I was responsible for was this giant, horse that was lying on his back with his feet straight up in the air. Child after child asked, "Why is the horse on his back?" in a very whiny voice. My answer was always an animated explanation that tummies are bouncier than spines! I only had to climb in a couple of times and rescue some parent's child who would not get out after I had called time up. Kids are hilarious and people watching is still one of my favorite hobbies.

We went to the visitor's center with one of our families last night! It was so, so, so awesome! I love it there and I love this couple. We had a blast walking around the temple grounds and we had such a spiritual moment as we watched one of the videos about families and all cried. Actually, I didn't cry for like the first time ever. But, I loved how I felt there with them! Families are so special!!

Yesterday was the farewell for one of my favorite people! Her name is Shaine, she is leaving for the Missionary Training Center in Mexico on Wednesday. She will be serving in Virginia, Spanish speaking. She gave THE best talk I have ever heard a person give before leaving on their mission. I teared up several times and learned so much. She talked about how her life began to change about a year ago when sister missionaries were assigned to the Oak Hills ward, instead of elders. Her testimony developed as she tried to model her life after all of the sisters who have served here because they were HAPPY. She wanted to feel that because even though she had been a member all of her life, she did not feel that joy she saw in them. She is incredible and so humble and willing to change! I have spent a lot of time with her over the past 4 months of being here and just adore her! She will be such a good missionary. Her parents are incredible and thanked us afterwards for all that we have done for their daughter in helping her to get there. She will do such wonderful things!! 

Well, I have to get going. It has been a GREAT week and things continue to get better! I love being here. Oak Hills has a special place in my heart, for sure! Right along with Oregon City and Aloha <3 I truly feel blessed!

Love to you all!

Xoxoxo, Sister Kerr

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's been 1 whole year!

Hello, family and friends! 

If you read the subject line, you now know that I am 1 in my mission age! Whoa. I truly cannot believe it has been an entire year since leaving home to come on my mission. It really has been one of THE best years of my life. I love it and have learned so much and am so thankful that I have six more months to keep learning. That does not seem like enough time!

I did a lot of pondering this week and thinking about what I am doing out here on my mission, now that it has been a really significant amount of time I've been doing it. The question came to my mind, "Do I really believe that Jesus Christ can change our lives for the better, is what I am doing worth this time I am giving?" Like all history teachers say, we do learn best from looking into the past! So I did that. I started to look over my old journal entries and made a list of all the people I have met who have made a large impact in my life. I have seen change through Christ happen in so many lives, especially while serving my mission, including my own life. I have seen time and time again, that people are prepared and searching to receive His teachings into their lives. I thought of a woman I had met a year ago who had lost her husband in their old age. She was searching for comfort and looking for answers as to what would happen after this life. She found peace and was changed through the teachings of Jesus Christ. Another woman, who had experienced hurt, pain, anger, abuse and lies throughout most of her life has become one of my closest friends. I watched her change over time, through Jesus Christ. Her life is still filled with so many things that could cause her pain, but her knowledge of God and His plan for her has CHANGED her forever. I have spent time in a home where a family was broken and torn from so many bad things in the world. But, I have watched as God touched each member of that family's heart and helped them to KNOW that He is there, always. I have seen them change so much! I have seen in myself, a girl filled with so much fear, be completely filled with hope. I have changed in this year, but in such a fulfilling way! That is what I love most about being changed by Christ. We only change into something better. I am still me, still my same sense of humor that I crack myself up with, still enjoy my same hobbies, still love all the same people from before - I just feel filled now. Jesus Christ has filled a void for me that I was not fully aware existed. But, now that I have felt it full, I know that I always want to feel that way! That is what the gospel can bring us, even fuller happiness. 

My invitation for you this week is to ponder on past experiences! Think about times in your life where you have felt that "full" or "complete" feeling. Let those memories motivate you to do whatever it takes to feel that way again! It is available to us always. 

Onto recounting this week! I'll share my favorite.

On Monday, one of the people we are teaching came up to us and told us he wants to be baptized! GASP. I am so excited for this boy! His parents are members and I have been working with them for quite some time, helping them to build their own testimonies and become active again. We recently started teaching their son. He is absolutely the best. I just love teaching him! Last week I invited him to pray and talk to God about his concerns, ask Him questions, just TALK to Him. On Monday, I asked him how it went...he prayed for an HOUR the night before. What teenager does that? A whole hour! He said it was the most incredible experience. I wanted to cry for joy! He has taught me so much and he has CHANGED. He is changing his family as well! His Dad, who has only been a member for about 5 years, was asked to give his first talk at church on Sunday. Another moment when I was about to shed tears! We went over and were helping him work on his talk. I asked if he had any scripture verses he loved that had helped him come to better understand God, he responded that there weren't any. His son, the one we are teaching, jumped up! "Yes there is!" He grabs his Book of Mormon that he has had for a week and flips open to Ether where we had left him a part to read. When we left that for him, he ended up having the whole family read it together for scripture study (AH, they did family scripture study!!!!!!!!!!!!), and when they Ether 12:4-6, he marked it because it was something that had really struck his dad! Tears, again. I love this family and am so in love with their progress. It is so clear to see the change within them as they do the things that God has asked of them. I love that I get to be a part of this!  Before we left, we helped them each pick out an outfit to be all set for church the next day! Haha, it was so funny! They looked great! 

We met some amazing people this week and experienced some great miracles! Miracles surely have not ceased. I promise that if you look for God's hand in your life, you will see it! 

I love you all! Everyone of you reading this. Xoxoxo!

Sister Kerr <3

Sunday, July 20, 2014

For some reason I felt the need to tell you everything I know and hold near and dear to me.

Little high, little low. Little hey, little ho. 
Sorry about not really having a post last week, I felt like my family was needing some personal emails :)

Hello, dear family! It has been another wonderful week here in Oregon. This week marks my first year as a missionary! Is that not just insane? A whole entire year! I truly cannot believe how fast it has gone by and I have loved every minute of it. I have lived a really happy life and have experienced so many good things, but I really don't think I have every been as happy in my life as I have been while serving others. I just love it! 

This week was miraculous. We found 3 new people to teach. It was so amazing and so uplifting to meet people who have thoughts and questions that can be explained and answered through a belief in God and through the things that I want to share with them. When we come to better understand where we came from (meaning that we came from God), we can also better understand who we are and where we are destined to go. I met two amazing girls this week who are both about my age, a little younger. One of them I met actually a couple of months ago and hadn't heard from or seen her in a long time. I was on an exchange with a brand new sister missionary who has been in Oregon for 2 weeks and we had a member with us who is preparing to leave on her mission, so I was the only one who knew the girl! We stopped by and for the first time since the day I met her, she was home! I asked her about the Book of Mormon and if she had been able to read from it at all. Last time, we had told her about the part in when Jesus Christ comes to the people and they have the opportunity to see Him, resurrected and perfected, and to be in His presence. She said she hadn't had the chance to read since we had last seen her. We asked if we could come in and talk about it with her right then since she was home. She said yes! We had the opportunity to teach her and her friend who was visiting for the weekend about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I was thinking this morning about what I wanted to share in my email, I just began to think about how incredibly blessed I feel because of the Restoration. Continued below...
Side note for anyone who wants to know what I mean by restoration: {I know that God loves His children and He gave us Jesus Christ to redeem us from the world, establish His church and teach us of the plan that God has for us, in order to RETURN to live with Him. He has always given opportunities to know the truth and know what we need to do, but we each can choose whether we want to listen or not, never forced! For a time, the fullness and completeness of the gospel was not on the earth. That required a restoration. The fullness of the truth needed to be restored to the earth.}
Because of my experiences throughout my life, I know that God is real and that He loves me. I know that is true of every person. I know it is true of those two 19 year old girls I was talking to, who had experienced a LOT of really hard things. Regardless of what type of life, or what type of experiences a person has lived through, I believe the message of the Restoration will answer their questions, or at least help them to begin the journey of having their questions answered. I love the idea of truth literally being restored to the earth, meaning it had been here before, but lost. I read in a book this morning, "...any who desire to know truth (any truth) must ask in prayer..." One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon says, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, you may know the truth of ALL things" (Moroni 10:5). I love that promise because there is absolutely no limit. We are promised a limitless amount of answers to questions through the power of the Holy Ghost. If we have the desire to know truth, "let that desire work in you, even until ye believe" (Alma 32:27). 

If you have questions, ask them! If you desire truth, do NOT push that desire aside thinking it is not possible or not available to you. Like it is promised to us, we really can know the truth of all things. Let those questions and that desire to know work continually and constantly inside of you. Let it push you to find answers! I think the biggest mistake in life would be contentment. I don't think we should ever be satisfied with the amount of knowledge we have, always pursue more! If you want to know if God really exists, you can know. 

I know God is real and He is our loving Heavenly Father. I know He is there and ever listening. I know He desires for His children to be informed and aware. What parent wants their child to be ignorant and go through life blindly, going through the motions, feeling satisfied with their limited understanding? We have the ability to know and He wants us to be fully aware of Him. I have met so many people throughout my life, both on my mission and before my mission, who believe God is not involved and believe He just wants to control His children in a manipulative and dictating way. I have come to know and love God and I know He is not that way at all. He encourages us to seek truth and knowledge and promises it to us if we seek with sincerity. 

While talking with those two girls, we shared a video that I believe I have mentioned before, called "Because of Him." I will link it at the end of the email and you can watch it! After showing it, one of the girls, the friend visiting from out of town, was just beaming. She was so in love with the video. The part that really struck her was, "Because of Him, guilt becomes peace. Regret becomes relief. Despair becomes hope. Because of him, we have second chances, clean slates, new beginnings. There is no such thing as the end." 

I know that is true! I know God loves us and wants us to experience joy and feel that relief, peace and hope. We, His children, are worth the life and death of Jesus Christ. It is Because of Him that we can experience those changes within ourselves. 

Wow, that all was weighing heavily upon my mind this morning. Sorry to spill so much all at once, but I pray you can feel of the love that I have for you and for my Savior as you read it. I really hope it will mean something to at least one of you reading this! 

Here is the link to the video!

And I am attaching some pictures from this week too! 

 I have a fun story for you! It was on Independence Day! We were
hanging out with he youngest Ballard girl, Eliza, who is ten. She is
so cute, I love her! Her mom really wants her to be in the Oak Hills
parade, but Eliza doesn't want to because she's only been here for 5
days and doesn't know anyone, blah, blah, blah. You know how it is
having mom try and force you to do something ridiculous because she
would have done it back when she was a kid. Well, I got sucked into
it, because Sister Ballard is kind of the boss. She picks us up,
drives us over to the grocery store and buys tons of candy. I'm
sitting there trying to figure out how he heck we are going to be in
the parade! There's no float we can join, no bikes we could ride,
whatever just go with the flow! We get back to he place where the
parade will start and see a bunch of little kids taking off on their
adorable, decorated bikes. It is all of our first time at this parade,
so we assume it is the start of the parade! Sister Ballard yells for
us to jump out and follow them with our candy. So we jump out and
follow! We've got tons of candy still in its big bags in three tiny,
thin grocery bags. We are chasing after the kids, Sister Berrett,
Eliza and myself, while trying to open the bags of candy. Meanwhile
the grocery bag handles are ripping off and we are dropping candy
everywhere! Haha! Now we're way behind the kids on bike, but no one is
coming behind us. Where is the rest of the parade you may wonder? The
kids on bike were a race, not the parade. So we were ditched, the
parade hadn't started yet and now it is just the three of us walking
down the street alone throwing out handfuls of candy. It was the best
4th if July parade I have participated in! It was seriously so
hilarious and very memorable. 

{This is my favorite of Sister Barrett and I}

I love you all, each and everyone of you! All the way to the moon and back. Muah, muah, muah! 

Xoxo, Sister Kensey Kerr <3 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Here comes July.

Hello, everyone.

It has been a great week and such a good start to my ninth transfer as a full-time missionary in Oregon! Things are falling into place so perfectly that I absolutely cannot doubt that this transfer was inspired. I know that God placed me here for a reason, at this specific time, that is true of Sister Berrett as well. I know that things are really going to take off and they already have started to! 

This week we found 2 new people to start teaching. It was such a miracle! We haven't found that many in one week in ages, so this was a huge miracle! The first was Loretta. Her story was pretty neat. Our mission has a new-ish thing that we do each week called, Finding Friday. From 5-7 every Friday the whole mission dedicates those two hours to being out and focusing solely on finding new people to teach. It has been a really great experience to do this with all 220 missionaries! This Friday we picked a development to go door to door contacting in. For the first hour and a half we talked to about 4 people, none of whom were interested, the rest of the homes were just empty or ignoring us. Within the last half hour, at the very, very end of the street, we met 3 great people! One of them was a young man about 15 years old. He opened the door and greeted us in such a cheerful way, informing us of both his first and last name. That was unique! Anyways, we talked to him for about 4 minutes about faith, religion, truth, God, missionaries - he informed us missionaries had taught his family awhile ago...why didn't I know about them?? - then I asked, "So you're Christian, you have a good faith in Christ, what church do you attend?" He looked puzzled and said, "We're Mormon." Why does this seem to always happen to me! Haha, but it was so perfect. I had not heard of this family ever before, but I really feel like they have been prepared. We never would have found anything out about their family though if we hadn't knocked on their door on accident. It needed to happen! It was just really cool! Then, we asked him if we could come by and teach his family sometime and he said yes. Bishop is going to invite them to have the lessons in their home. I am really excited! After that happened, we were scrambling through our records on our iPads, trying to find out when they had been taught. We sat down on a bench and when we were about to leave, I had forgotten we had missed the last two doors on the street. Sister Berrett remembered at the last minute, so we went back and knocked. One was totally empty, it had just been sold. But, the other was the home of Loretta, our new investigator! She is from Taiwan and has no real religious background, she seems to be agnostic and unsure about what she believes. We asked her about what she believes the purpose of life to be and she said she didn't know, she had never really thought about it. That shocked me! I cannot imagine never thinking or wondering about why you are here. We asked her if she believed God existed and she wasn't sure about that either. We really stirred up her thoughts though, which was really amazing. She had never put much thought into these things, but because we were asking these questions, she now is going to think about them. We gave her a Book of Mormon and I bore my testimony to her that that book has the power to answer those questions and change her life. I asked her to read one of my favorite chapters, Alma 22. I also asked her to ponder those questions we had asked her and to consider the value of the answers to those questions. I love inviting people to think about that! We promise people answers to some of life's greatest questions through reading the scriptures and praying and asking God, those answers are really valuable! They require effort and dedication in order to receive those efforts. She accepted and said she will read it, then she said, "You know, I am going to have tons of questions after reading this chapter." She said it as if that would turn us off, but we excitedly responded, "That's why we're here! To not only invite people to do these things, but help them through it too!" Set a return appointment and got her phone number. It was so miraculous. And we ALMOST skipped her door. The last door at the last minute of our Finding Friday evening. I love miracles!

The baton passing has happened. President and Sister Ballard are here with the kiddos as of Saturday. I love them so much already, they are absolutely great! I do miss the Morby's a lot though, not because the Ballard's aren't good enough, but because I have such fond memories with the Morby's. It's like when I was leaving home to come here, I missed my parents so much. Not because it was bad here, or because my mission president and wife weren't good enough, but because my parents are so special to me. Now I feel like I lost another set of parents! I know it is temporary and I know I will feel the same way about the Ballard's when I leave the mission, but right now I feel a little homesick for the Morby's. We just came here to email from helping unpack at the mission home and it looks so different now with a family in it rather than the one couple. It is going to be so much fun! They have 6 kids, 4 of them will be living here in the Oak Hills area with us, which is going to be a blast. They have 2 young daughters, 12 and 10, we just set up their tea party room. I LOVE IT!  They said, "P-days are going to be tea party days. You have to come! We'll make you fancy invitations!" I am so happy to have sissies back!

Well, I think that's about it to talk about this week. Things are going so great, I still love being a missionary and still love this area and these members. Something Sister Ballard said yesterday that I love, "God is hastening His work, we aren't, He is. The question is, Can we keep up?" Things are going to take off here in the Oregon Portland Mission, the Only Perfect Mission!

I love you tons and tons. xoxoxoxo <3

Sister Kerr

p.s. someone please email me this week and tell me about your vaca!