Note from Mom and Dad: We’ve included this weeks and last weeks letters here from Taya:
October 17, 2016:
Happy Monday everyone!
This week we had zone conference down in North Spokane for the Colville zone (our zone), the West Spokane zone, and the North Spokane zone. We drove down to North Spokane and got to stay with the Green Bluff sisters. It was so great to see Sister Lott again! I also got to see Rick and Mary again! I have really missed them. They gave me a present of a hat, gloves, and scarves. That was so nice of them! Zone conference was really good. President Dymock taught, and I love when he teaches. I love that he was an Institute Teacher, and I would have loved to have a class from him in college. Sister Dymock taught as well, and she does so with a wonderful spirit. She gave us the “color personality tests” so that we could better understand our companions. I found that I am 80% blue and 20% white. You can look it up to see what that means. Sister Jackson is 50% red and 50% yellow, so we have all the colors covered between us!
M___ was baptized this week! She has been doing so great, and keeping the Word of Wisdom wonderfully! She has come so far and made so many changes in her life to get to the point of baptism. She got baptized in Christina Lake! It was cold and rainy, but the coolest baptism ever! Mandy was smiling ear to ear, and she also brought her non-member friend with her! Elder Park baptized her and Brother Jackson and Elder Williams were the witnesses. They had to walk pretty far out into the lake to where it was deeper to do the baptism. We then drove back to the church to finish the program and have dinner. Great day!
We taught L___’s ten-year-old daughter this week, and gave her her very own Book of Mormon. Her eyes lit up and she got so excited and thanked us over and over and over again! :) She told us that she really wants to get baptized so we put her on date for her baptism. They are still moving to Spokane, so I’m not sure if it will be before they move or not. But, you know that feeling when you just love someone so much you feel like your heart might burst within you? That’s what I feel for the people I’ve met on my mission. I’m so blessed to have met these people who have changed me as a person!
L___ had her baptism this week down in Republic. She has been so excited to be baptized! I just love her so much. The service was small, and was just us, the McCulloughs, the elders, and the Jacksons. The service was great! I bore my testimony and Sister Jackson sang. She has an awesome voice! The best part was that L___ had written her testimony out and shared it. She gave me a copy of it, and said that I could send it to my parents to add to my blog. Her story is a lot like Joseph Smith’s in that she investigated a lot of different religions looking for the right one. She found it!
This was a busy week, and we’ve been working really hard. Each night, I fall into bed exhausted, but happy!
Love you all!
Note from Mom and Dad: We’ve included L___’s testimony and talk here that she gave at her own baptism, and that she gave permission to post:
“I grew up in a Scandinavian-rich community on the North Oregon Coast. With great-grandparents emigrating from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, it would be no surprise that my youth was spent in the Lutheran Church where I was baptized as an infant. My mother was sure we attended weekly where she often served by teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, or playing organ. My non-Scandinavian father attended twice a year: Christmas and Scout Sunday!
As a teenager, it became clear that for most teens, graduation from high school was also graduation from church! To me, that did not bode well for the longevity of the church. Indeed, that particular building no longer houses a church.
Very much like Joseph Smith, I began my search for truth and the church I could call home. In time, I found myself in Madison, Wisconsin. I started at the Lutheran Church, but was turned off by the rote repetition of the Liturgy. As I looked around me, I saw little sign that people believed what they recited very Sunday.
Soon thereafter, I found myself among Bible Christians of varying labels. I thought I had found my spiritual home, but as I read through the Bible for the first time, I was struck by several passages. The first was that all the things that Jesus did was not recorded in the Bible. In fact, they could not be contained by all the books in the world!
The other was that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.” Yet I saw no evidence of these words continuing. The gift of prophecy seemed to have been lost.
In time, I moved to England, where I was baptized by immersion into the Baptist Church of Southern England. I was promised that I would feel an amazing change, but I did not. I felt let down.
Again, I was dismayed by the hypocrisy I saw around me in the members who did not live a seven-day-a-week faith. And again, the gift of prophecy was absent. “Knowing the tree by its fruit”, I did not see a healthy tree where I was, so my journey continued. I contemplated many forms of Christianity that I had not considered previously, including the Mennonites and then the Catholics where I stayed several years following the example of a dear friend who walked her walk in a daily and meaningful way (and at least I didn’t need to be re-baptized!). Yet as I grew in knowledge, I found myself struggling to adhere. And the Pope did not quite live up to my expectations of a prophet.
Then, I met Sister Buffy Jackson (note from Mom and Dad: This is a sister that lives there in the area that L__ is good friends with). I was trying to escape a rather hellish chapter of my life which had included having to leave my sons in England! This chapter has given me difficulties in trusting others, as well as my own judgement.
At first, I was determined to resist any charms of the Mormon Church. I wasn’t going to even consider going to meetings!
But then, Sister Jackson started asking me about my beliefs and told me about the Mormon knowledge of Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, and I knew I needed to know more about the Mormon Church and its beliefs. As I contemplated these things, I could feel my hard heart softening and was almost afraid of where it would lead me.
In childhood, my mother had told me that Joseph Smith had found these golden tablets that talked about Jesus appearing to the American Indians. We even had a copy of the Book of Mormon, but although I found the concept appealing, I never investigated further. But maybe this was the important first seed that would keep open (if only by a crack) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
So, I went with the Jacksons.... first to a baptism and then to church. Thanks to Sister McCullough, I left with a complete set of scriptures and the book of Gospel Principles. I started reading and absorbing. I began searching for irrefutable evidence that the Mormon Church was true.
What I found was.... That the Book of Mormon supports the Bible perfectly. I found a living prophet who is the continued source of divine revelation. I found a fruitful people who love their church and believe whole heartedly in all of the scriptures. I found a congregation who nourish all who shelter beneath their branches. I found a church which has thrived and grown almost exponentially despite horrific persecution from all directions.
By the time the missionary sisters Jackson and Worthen began teaching me, I was a very long way down the path, having discovered in my own reading the eternal family and the teaching of the dead, two of the concepts that are the most exciting for me.
As I prayed about being baptized, I was seeking for, again, irrefutable proof that this baptism would do something tangible for me... beyond forgiving sins and membership in the Mormon Church. I wanted to know if I would feel change. The answer that came to me was that baptism had to be an act of faith. So, here I am saying “Lord, I believe, help me though my unbelief.”
Right now, my faith is only that of a mustard seed, but Jesus told us that this tiny seed can grow to be the greatest among herbs.
So, brothers and sisters, keep sharing your testimony. Listen to those promptings of the Holy Spirit. You never know which seeds you sow will take root... but Heavenly Father does.
Thank you, Sister Buffy Jackson, for the seeds you threw in my direction. It’s only because of your generosity and patience that I stand here now, in the last spiritual home I would have expected, now saying that... I know that the Book of Mormon is true, as revealed by God’s chosen prophet, Joseph Smith, who by God’s direction restored the gospel of Jesus in its fullness, to us, in the form of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In Jesus’ name, Amen. “
|M___ with Sister Jackson and I at her baptism|
at Christina Lake
|Elder Park baptized her with|
Elder Williams as a witness
|It was rainy and cold, but you got to get|
wet for your baptism anyway, right?
|Elder Park and Elder Williams trying|
to warm up
|L___ with her two daughters at her baptism|
|A wonderful family!|
|Sister Jackson and I|
October 10, 2016:
I hope everyone is doing well! This week has been a busy one. We taught L___ about the 10 commandments, the Sabbath day, and tithing. She just soaks everything in, it’s awesome how fast she learns! Overnight before our appointment, she read a book all about the pioneers. We taught her at Sister Jackson’s home. Sister Jackson’s cat had kittens, and she is putting them up for adoption. And while we were teaching L___, a lady came to pick out one of the kittens. The awesome thing is she’s a potential investigator. She sat down in the Jackson’s home and we taught her the entire restoration lesson right then and there. :) She accepted a Book of Mormon and made an appointment for the next lesson! Literally a new investigator just walked through the front door! I’ve never had that happen.
On other news, L___ won’t be moving to Spokane for a few weeks, which means she can get baptized here! Awesome!! She is literally a miracle. I am so happy for her! We set a goal at the beginning of this transfer to have a baptism in the U.S. and a baptism in Canada, and we have prayed so hard that we can help Heavenly Father accomplish this goal. We found L__ a week later, and now she is being baptized next week! I feel that Heavenly Father has allowed me to be a part of this miracle.
We also met with M___ this week. She has been working really hard not to smoke, and she has been doing great. She’s on target for her baptismal date.
J___ had his baptism this week! It was such a great day! The little boys were soooo excited. :) J___ was smiling ear to ear. He was also confirmed on Sunday. He was baptized in Republic, since they live near there.
This week we had the Harvest Activity in the Grand Forks unit to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving. We made tamales and M___, L___, her daughters, and A___ came! Sister Jackson sang some children’s hymns with the guitar and it was just great!
I better go. Thanks for all of your letters and support!
Love you all! Have a great week!
|J___ at his baptism with his two brothers|
|Sister Jackson and I with J___|
|The brothers were so excited for J___|
|Christina Lake where M___ will get baptized|
|Sister Olsen and I got to see each other when|
we were down in North Spokane