Monday, June 27, 2016

January - June 2016 --> Taking off the tag, & changing my name...

I know that most of you can relate to how I felt and the experiences I had, but I felt like sharing my personal experiences of coming home from my mission. For whatever reason, whether it is to help someone else or for selfish reasons of needing some closure to my time serving a mission, I'm not sure. I really hope it can do a little bit of both for us.

As my time of serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to an end, there were so many feelings and thoughts running through my mind and heart. Coming home, I had a fear that the past 18 months of my life would become a distant dream because I had quickly forgotten a lot of the little things about home and my life before the mission. What would happen after being home for a week, a month, a year? I did NOT want to forget ANYTHING I had learned while being a missionary, because being a missionary changed my life.

Lucky me, my mom kept my blog updated with the emails I sent home, so I have a record of my weekly happenings. Thanks Mom :) I also wrote in a personal journal, but even with pictures and the multiple sources of recorded information of my journey, SO much happened that I didn't get to record. I'm afraid I will forget those things I never wrote down, but I know they will forever be imprinted on my heart. 

As I prepared to fly on a couple of different planes and experience a layover on my journey from Bakersfield to Idaho, I was informed that I would be the only missionary flying home that day. I wasn't necessarily afraid of flying by myself because I had done it in the past. But what I was terrified of, was being aloneI wasn't going to have a companion... 

After having someone by my side 24/7 for 18 months, I was going to be all by myself. Many times when I was a missionary, having a constant companion was a challenge, as it is for most missionaries. Aside from the typical challenges, your faults and shortcomings are magnified when someone is always right next to you. I think that's why you learn to love your companions so much, and that you always have a special bond with them, because you have the most spiritual experiences of your life together while both striving to become the best version of yourself. Having a companion refined who I was and who I wanted to be. I had learned and practiced teaching and talking in unity with my companion in every situation -- and now I wasn't going to have anyone by my side... It was just going to be me.

Looking back at it, Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed that day. Absolutely everyone I sat next to or stood close to in lines were so nice and so willing to answer my inquiries of their lives and beliefs. They listened and shared some insightful moments with me. It was an unexpected day full of missionary work and miracles.

I was able to see both sides of my extended family, my closest friends and people that love me at the Phoenix airport (where I had a lay over) and when arriving home in the Boise airport. For the past 18 months, I had dreamed of the day I would see my family again in the airport and the real deal didn't disappoint. After I landed in Boise, I was basically running through the airport after coming out of the gate because I was so excited to see everyone. It hadn't registered what was REALLY about to happen and that this was real life until right before I rounded the last corner. I had to stop and catch my breath and try to compose myself for what was about to happen. I started through those security doors and I could see so many people I loved waiting for me! It was everything I had dreamed it would be and more! Such a glorious reunion!

That evening I went to get officially released from my missionary calling...something I had been dreading for a while. It was a great opportunity of reflection as I told my Stake President all about my mission and what I had learned. I could sense the closing of our meeting as he then asked me why I thought missionaries wore name tags. My response was delayed, because I knew what this question was prefacing.. I answered his question and shared my feelings of gratitude and honor of wearing my Savior's name on the same name tag as mine. Then, as a symbol of me being released as a missionary, I was asked to remove my name tag. 

With uncontrollable tears falling from my face, I unlatched the magnet on the back of my tag and held it in my hand. I knew that from this moment forward, my life I had become accustomed to and grown to love with all of my heart, was done. A life filled with obedience to a strict schedule and the highest form of conduct, and every hour being filled with purpose to help others come closer to the Savior. Something President Smith said that I will never forget is that now I won't wear a name tag with Christ's name etched on it for people to see who I was and who I represented. He said His name is etched on my heart and my actions, and my name has always been etched in His hands, feet and side. 

I wasn't going to be able to introduce myself to strangers and point to my heart where my name tag was and say, "My name is Sister Loar and I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," but I would be able to continue to show them the love and compassion I had learned to have as a missionary. After my meeting with President Smith, I realized that my conduct, words and actions will show people who I am and who I represent. Even though I was heart broken to not be able to wear a name tag and have the calling of a missionary anymore, I knew that I could still share God's light with others.

Transitioning back from missionary life to home life, was an interesting ride! I think I was able to get a few of the awkward habits out of my system the three days I was home before having to pack up and leave to go to school in Utah. I am positive my younger sister enjoyed backing me out of the garage in below freezing weather when I drove for the first time, accompanying me to hang out with my friends, and helping me remember what "style" was. I had to start school four days after I came home from my mission, so it was hard leaving so soon to be away from family... again. I struggled a lot trying to figure out how to juggle the stress of life again. I had to relearn how to do the whole "school" thing and how to be a responsible adult in managing the complicated life I forgot I had left behind. It's funny, I think in the different stages of our lives, our brains are structured to forget the hard day to day struggles and worries we had in the previous stage of life we just came from.

I definitely forgot how difficult life could be. This last semester at BYU was the most difficult one I've experienced scholastically but also in other areas of my life as well. By the end of it I was kind of bitter at the fact that I was home and not a missionary still. But I knew I was where I was supposed to be and that this stage of life is what I needed to be living. Don't get me wrong, I did have so much fun being home for the many weddings I was able to attend, rooming with my best friend, going on dates, being able to watch movies, having dance parties (and we all know that I love to bust a move), going long boarding and many other things that I missed while out serving a mission. I also was able to see my family A LOT during the semester, so it really turned out fine. But the rewarding and fulfilling selfless life as a missionary is something I have missed every single day since I've been home. I don't think that feeling of missing the mission will change, because after being home for six months, it's still here.

The most prominent lesson I've learned these last six months is that sometimes God has us go down certain roads because He needs us to know that they are the wrong roads. Then he leads us the right way and we are able to appreciate life in such a better and more grateful perspective. Elder Holland teaches about this principle in an experience he had. I love the way he explains it and would echo everything he says. The link will take you to a video about it. (It's definitely worth the watch!) 

Elder Holland - Wrong Roads

After I came home from my mission, I was very fortunate to see so many people I had met in Bakersfield! I counted my blessings and figured out that every week since I was home I was able to see or talk to at least one person I had come to know as a missionary. I think living in Utah had its advantages! :) Those relationships and connections that I made while serving are so close to my heart. The people I met changed my life and have given me the ability to see the world differently.

In May I was able to go back and visit part of my mission! YAY IT WAS THE BEST WEEKEND EVER. It was so hard not being able to see everyone I wanted to. Time was against me and I didn't have enough of it. I learned so many lessons that weekend though! :) I learned that I need to take a longer vacation to visit everyone, because I honestly wanted to stop and see EVERYONE I had met and talked to ever. I also learned that God's timing is the best timing and that miracles still happen as long as you do your part and exercise faith. I learned that people didn't forget me! (That was a fear I had when leaving each area I served in. BLESSINGS.) I also learned that I have a very unhealthy love for Bakersfield, California (and the surrounding areas) and that I will shake with excitement within 100 miles of reaching those places. Haha it is the honest truth. :) I learned that our brains really do make us forget the hard day to day struggles and worries we had in the previous stage of life we just came from.. because I didn't remember until meeting up with some missionaries I served with, just how difficult missionary life really was. Missionary life is SIMPLE, but still hard. But it's hard because I tried. And I kept trying and I'm still going to keep trying even though life is hard too because that is how we learn and grow. It gave me so much closure to visit the mission again and I'm so grateful for the timing of it all. I was able to spend some time with President and Sister Wilson, my mission president and his wife, and it was the most rewarding experience. I love them! They are like my second parents. I look up to them so much and I'm so grateful for their time and energy spent on my behalf for those 18 months.

Serving a mission has given me a new set of glasses to look at life through. I feel more aware of those around me and their feelings. I have been able to notice God's hand in my life more clearly. My patience with others, myself and with the circumstances life provides, has grown exponentially. I see others differently. I judge less, because I have felt God's love for strangers and I know that everyone has a story. I am far from perfect, but I know now what I need to do and what kind of efforts I need to put forth to truly change and become better everyday. The simplest of things that I learned and developed as a missionary have made the biggest difference in my life now. Habits that I formed as a missionary have helped me to make the day to day lifestyle choices that shape an attitude of faith, hope and charity. Serving a mission allowed me to learn more about the Savior and His love for each one of us. As I got to know the individuals I interacted with, my heart grew with love for them, that I didn't know could exist in me. I love the people of the California Bakersfield Mission. They taught me so many valuable things that will always be close to my heart. 

I know that the message I shared for 18 months and continue to share with others is the greatest blessing of hope and peace in this life. I know that God lives, that He created all things, and that He loves us more than we can comprehend. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Prince of Peace and my Redeemer. His grace is sufficient for all of us to be strengthened and enabled to overcome anything we experience in this life. He is the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could give us. Through Christ we are able to live after we die and be cleansed from sin, making us eligible to live with our families, God and Him again after this life in peace and joy. If we have faith, keep God's commandments, serve others and live cheerfully we will be given the strength to endure and experience the purest of joy now and forever. I know that this is true. 

My life is forever changed because of the experience I had of serving a mission. Every missionary is different, every mission is different, and the experiences you have as a missionary are different from anyone else's experiences. But they are unique and personalized to be exactly what you need individually because God cares just as much about the messenger as He does the people receiving the message. It was a hard 18 months. There were tears of happiness as well as sadness and frustration. Many nights I went to sleep, exhausted and worried about companions, the people we were trying to help and of being inadequate to carry the calling of a missionary. I tried my best and trusted in the Lord, and miracles happened. The greatest miracle of my mission was my own conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel. I've truly been saved, in every sense of the word. I think God's commandments are perfect and intentional in all aspects. I know it's not a coincidence that as we are helping others come closer to Christ, we end up at the feet of the Savior as well.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my time of service. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing and inspirational people. Every interaction I've had with any of you, has been a blessing to me. 

Here's to new adventures and life changing experiences! The journey continues...

Love,
Maren
xoxo

"God is my salvation I will trust, and not be afraid for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." [2 Nephi 22:2]




Monday, December 28, 2015

12/21-12/27

Hello!

Well, this is super weird. This is the last email I'll send to you all as a missionary.. super bittersweet.

Monday-Tuesday-- This week was pretty great! We had exchanges with the Brimhall sisters, Sisters Newhouse and Shaw and they are just a bunch of dolls. I love them. We were able to teach a few lessons and find some new investigators! :) A family in the ward took a tree to Corina and her boys and also to Mike and Sondra. Also, another family provided gifts for them too! It was super touching to see the ward family embrace these new members and people who are investigating! :) 

Wednesday-- We went over to the Haner's and did some service by helping them around their small little farm, it was super fun! They are such a fun family. Sister Holmstead and I taught them some new games and they looooved them. :) That night we went caroling with the Knepp family to the Burton's and they enjoyed it! 

Thursday-- We got to go caroling with President and Sister Wilson and the other missionaries that are nearby to a couple of assisted living homes for seniors! It was magical! I loved it! The spirit was super strong when we sang Silent night. All of the old people joined in and it was super amazing to see that everyone was united in singing about our Savior being born. A memory I will never forget.

All of the sisters we go on exchanges with! :) (at caroling to the old folk)

That night we had dinner with the McMullins and then taught Corina and her boys a lesson and read out of the Book of Mormon. They are doing well! We also went over and helped Mike and Sondra wrap presents for little Nixynn and it was super fun to see them and the Taylor's! :) They are so sweet. Brooke gave us a really cute gift! She's the best!!!

Christmas Eve Jammies!!!
Rollin' with my Snowmie! :)

Thanks for the PJ's family! we love them!

Our Nativity and Christmas Tree!

Friday-- We woke up and opened our presents and made waffles... but they failed miserably hahaha (thank you, everyone, for sending such love our way!) Then we went to the Bey's for the best breakfast burritos I've ever had in my life!! :) It was delicious and super fun to see them and visit with them. They are the best. 

We then drove up to the Rudd's for Christmas and to talk to our families! It was soooo good to see the family. Gosh, I love them! I can't believe I'll be seeing everyone in a couple of days. After we skyped I helped Sister Rudd cook some stuff for dinner and it was super fun to get to visit with her. She's one incredible woman. Christmas was magical! We had a white Christmas! :)



Saturday-- We had a good day! Nothing too crazy and had my last correlation meeting at the Bey's! I'm sure going to miss this ward.

Sunday-- Ashley and Chris came to church!!! We gave them a church tour right before it started. They are SO CUTE. The cutest little family and it seemed like they enjoyed it. Salem came too! and so did Arianna! Blessings are flowing! :) I was asked to speak and it went well overall! It was like giving a farewell talk in my home ward again haha. It was a good opportunity to reflect on the things I've learned and experiences I've had. I'm so grateful for this ward. They are amazing and I feel like they are my second family away from home.

We had dinner at the Huff's and then had a lesson with Salem there too! It was about the Priesthood and it went really well. I love that family! :)

I said goodbye to Sister Burdick, my favorite Panamanian woman. I am going to miss her!

Well, it has been the greatest 18 months of my life! I have truly appreciated and cherished the words of encouragement and support you all have given me. Thank you for all of the prayers and the love you have sent my way! I'm going to continue to need them in this crazy transition back to reality hahaha! 

I've been so blessed and feel so grateful for everything I've experienced, for the people I've met and for the time I've had to serve my Savior, Jesus Christ. As His representative, I've felt His love for those I meet, and I feel honored and privileged to have spent the last 18 months in His service. I know that God loves us and that He knows all. I know that His timing is perfect and that as we obey His commandments and pray and search for Him in our lives, He will give us answers and assurance through the trials we go through. I am so grateful for a Savior and Redeemer who has suffered all things that we go through in life, so we can be relieved and redeemed from the pains and burdens we all carry. I know that He has always chosen prophets to speak to us and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God called to restore His church and complete gospel to the earth. I am grateful for a living prophet on the earth today and I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's chosen prophet. He speaks the words that God would have us hear. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I love it and know it has brought me closer to my Savior as I've read it. I know families can be together forever and that we can return to live with God after this life, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent continually and receive the ordinances of salvation. I love, love, LOVE what I've learned and experienced on my mission. I am super sad it is ending, but know that when a door closes, another one opens. It is bittersweet, but I'm looking forward to what God and life have in store for me and the growth I'll continue to experience as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I love you all! 

Love always,
Sister Loar
xoxo

Saying bye to the Dibble's and the Livingston's!

Did you tell them they were the Lord's chips?? 
( Our ghetto chip bag, because we tore the other one haha) 

 Citrus in Cali is huge!  

 Saying bye to the Huff's and Sister Smith!





Monday, December 21, 2015

12/14-12/20

Herro, herro!

Wow, this week flew by!

Monday-Friday-- We had an awesome lesson with Salem at the Huff's! We taught the Plan of Salvation and it went really well. Since we couldn't drive Salem and he couldn't get a ride, he followed behind us on his bike! He's a champion!!! 

We had exchanges with Sister Kurtz, Casto, and Mauldin! It was a crazy exchange, but it was super fun being with Sister Kurtz for the last time! :)

Exchange lunch at Fabulous Burger!

We had really great lessons with Salem, Arianna, and Brian. They are all progressing well! The lesson with Brian was at Sondra and Mike's and it went SO WELL! Sondra asked inspired questions and testified! She's the best missionary ever!!! It was sooo rewarding seeing them talk with Brian and testify of the Gospel. Tender mercy. :)

One afternoon before dinner, we were trying a few doors of people we have met before, but no one was answering or interested. So we were like jokingly, but seriously running in the direction of where we felt the spirit was taking us. We saw a man outside and ran to go talk to him and we started teaching him our message and he seemed like he wouldn't accept it at first, but after we invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon he totally accepted! He said maybe to being baptized, so we resolved his concern and then invited him to prepare to be baptized on a specific date and he accepted! He's super legit!!! He was telling us he doesn't like going to church because he feels like it's just a bunch of man-made corporations to gain money.. but after we explained the Restoration and how everything is volunteer in the church, he was impressed and agreed that that is how the Savior's church should be run. YAY! It was pretty amazing. After these kinds of experiences, Sister Holmstead and I always look at each other at the same time and have this look of, "did that seriously just happen?!" Heavenly Father is so good. His timing amazes me.

We were able to help Branden and Jessica paint their hallway finally! It was super fun, they made lunch for us and everything! They've come to church the last few weeks, so that is exciting. Hopefully, they will get married soon, so they can both progress! :)

We stopped by the Larson's and were going to carol to them, but instead they shared their many talents with us! haha, it was fun. All of their kids can play the piano and sing and they love to perform. It's way cute. :)

It's so weird, everyone is coming home from college.. and I was here when they left for the beginning of the semester! hahaha, I've been here for so long! :) Not complaining, one bit. It's just strange. I feel like I am just another member of the ward, but that I wear a tag, and am a missionary, and spend all day every day sharing the gospel! haha.

SO SATURDAY WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. 
We had a Christmas Morningside with all of the missionaries in Bakersfield and it was precious! We got to watch It's a Wonderful Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite movie of all time. Merry Christmas to us! :) Everyone laughed and cried, it was so good. I was so, so happy.

After the movie, President Elledge, a member of the Mission Presidency asked us the question, "how would your life be different if you hadn't served a mission?"

Then on Sunday in Relief Society, the lesson was on carrying the gospel to all of the world, and so long story short, Sister Haner ended up asking me what I've learned from my experiences on my mission...

So from those two experiences, I've had a lot going through my mind, but the questions of what I've learned and how different would my life be if I hadn't served made me want to solidify all of the emotions, memories and thoughts going through my mind. I have come to many thoughts and impressions, and I will try my best to consolidate them into this email... here we go.

If I hadn't served a mission, I would in reality not be emailing you all right now. That is pretty obvious.. but the impact of that sentence weighs more than it appears. I would not have had the experiences that have made me into the person I am today. Every day, I have been put into uncomfortable and inconvenient situations. I've met hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in the last 18 months. I've prayed and fasted over my own challenges but also of those whom I have come to love and adore. I have lost myself in the labor of helping others find the truth and turn to the Lord for help. By doing that, it has opened my heart to loving and caring for people I would have never even thought I would have even talked to before my mission. I can only remember glimpses of the person I used to be before the mission. I don't want to slide back to what I once was. I used to let my weaknesses define me instead of trying to overcome them and refine my character and nature to one who follows Jesus Christ. There is oh so much more work to be done in overcoming my fears and insecurities, but from serving a mission I've learned who to turn to in overcoming fear and discomfort. The Savior has become my greatest friend and relief. He overcame all, and through relying on His grace and mercy, we can come unto Him and be saved.

Each area I've served in and each companion I've served with, have all taught me so many things. I've learned many lessons from their examples, friendship, and the experiences we have been through together! Many of my companions have taught me to be myself, and to become the best person I can, through relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I've found some of my dearest friends out here; recent converts and ward members that have become family and companions that have become my sisters. I'm so grateful for each one of them and the eternal impact they've had on my life. I can't even imagine not meeting and loving each one of them! I've been changed for the better and I know that I was sent to the California Bakersfield Mission by a loving Heavenly Father who knew exactly what I needed and who I needed in these last 18 months. The timing of when I've been transferred has been exactly what was intended by the Lord because of the spiritual experiences I've had following the changes that have occurred on my mission! I've learned to have faith and expect miracles to happen when I am diligent and obedient and trust in the Lord. The power of prayer has become my go-to in every situation. Even yesterday we were just walking down the hallway of the church building and out of pure habit.. not sure why I said it because it was really irrelevant.. I said, "should we say a prayer?" hahaha we both laughed really hard because it made zero sense. :) I've learned to have hope, to love and have charity; the pure love of Christ, and to be diligent and exactly obedient in the work of the Lord. I've learned the impact of having a humble and teachable heart and the importance of heeding the counsel of my leaders and ultimately, the Leader. I have learned that gaining knowledge and having virtuous thoughts, words and actions can give us so much peace and happiness. Through many, many experiences I've recognized I've become more and more patient as the Lord has been ever so patient with me. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father live and they love us more than we can comprehend. I have an undying passion for the Book of Mormon and I know that it is the word of God and that I've gotten closest to my Savior as I've read it and applied its teachings in my life. I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I'm so, so, SO sad to be ending this mission of mine. My life has been saved because of it and I'm eternally grateful to all who have played a part in it! I'm forever changed, and I am so indescribably grateful to a loving Father who knows all.

I love you all so much. I hope you have the Merriest of Christmas's as you remember the true meaning for the season. :) 

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! :)

Love always,
Sister Loar
xoxoxo

PS: Arianna passed her interview and is getting baptized December 29th! :) 
Salem didn't make it to church, so we are postponing his baptism to a later time.

 The elders decorating cookies with the activity day girls...hahaha

 and my last district meeting... :( is this real life?

 Getting our Star Wars on! ;) hahaha Sister Burdick is the best.

Thanks Sister Long for leaving your Jumbalia mix! :) It was delicious.


Monday, December 14, 2015

12/7-12/13



Hello, hello! :)

















Monday-- We played Zone Sports and it was super fun! :) We had dinner at the Sargeant's that night and shared with them the Christmas video from this year and last year, He is the Gift. It brought back so many memories from serving in Tehachapi and Bishop! It really hit me while watching that video that, Christ is truly the greatest gift. 

That night we had a lesson with Brian in the Fortner's home! :) It went soooooo well! We talked about quitting smoking to which Sondra and Mike were the BEST help! They were amazing. They both bore their testimonies that prayer was the biggest thing that helped them stay quit. He concluded or lesson by telling us that he was going to smoke his last cigarette that night! :)

Also that night, we realized we didn't buy any toilet paper... and we were completely out. hahahaha so for this entire week, we have been living off of the toilet paper we gathered from the church anytime we were there hahaha and also survived on the mercy of the ward members letting us stop in to use their bathrooms hahaha. Don't worry, that was the first thing we bought today at the grocery store! ;)

Tuesday-- WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE WITH THE HUNTERS! :) It was such a great experience. It was the most comforting and calming experience in the temple. If I could live in that place I would. I never wanted to leave! 





We stopped at In-n-out on the way home! Love that place so much. Sister Holmstead is also equally obsessed with it, so it works out well.

When we were walking into the church building to go to splits, we met some kids walking their dog in the parking lot. We talked to them for a bit and they said they would love to learn more and come to church. They live super close to the church! Their names are Savannah, Clayton, Haven, and Haylee. Salem Palmer came to splits that night! He is so awesome!!! :) After we came back from visiting people we had a short lesson with Salem and he committed to be baptized on December 26th! Woohoo! :) 

Then we went over to the Fortner's for a lesson on Eternal Marriage with the Bey's and them! It was awesome. Brother Bey is their home teacher, so things are going sooo well with them!

Wednesday-- We meant to knock on Sister Dickerson's door, but ended up knocking on the wrong one! A woman answered the door and we taught her the Restoration and she said she had been wanting to get involved into church again and lots of other amazing things, that made Sister Holmstead and I look at each other with amazement. God always places us in the right spot at the right time! Her name is legitimately, Holly Wood. :) hahahaha so awesome.

That night Savannah and clan came to mutual! We walked with them and introduced them to everyone there and it was awesome.

Brother Bey went with us to check on Brian to see how he was doing, but we didn't catch him. We only caught his roommates. We taught them the restoration really quick, but they weren't interested! Oh well. One day! We let them know that Brian quit smoking, and they were super happy about it! haha we told them to support him, since he would need it.

Sister Shimmins then came with us to a lesson at Sondra's! We taught about missionary work and service in the church and it was great. :) 

Thursday-- Sister Rush came out with us to a few lessons, but they all fell through and didn't work out. But, Mike and Sondra always make our day and come through! :) We had a great last lesson with them. Sondra went to go help Nixynn with something during the lesson. When she came back she had taken out all of her piercings! She was GLOWING! :) she told us that it was time and that she was ready! The change we have seen in her is INCREDIBLE. I can't even explain it. I love her so much!! :)

Mckenna McMullin came with us to a lesson with Salem! It went so well! He told us his favorite band is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And then we began to tell him to not feel pressure from us to get baptized sooo soon, and he told us that the conversation about baptism was going on for far too long and it was about time he got baptized haha. He said, "In the beginning was the word, the word was baptism." Hahahaha oh how I love this kid. He's so rad.

Then we went over to Sholanda's and she told us she wasn't interested, she said that it isn't for her, but that she would always keep our number if she changed her mind. It was so sad. But we were going to have to have that conversation with her sooner or later..... she wasn't keeping her commitments. So that was sad, but it had to happen.

Friday-- I had to prepare a talk for District Meeting and it was about relying on the Spirit. While I prepared it, I came to the realization that the times I've been happiest on my mission (and in life) is when I was worthy of and striving to follow the Spirit.

We went on exchanges with Stockdale sisters! We were all from Idaho, so that was pretty awesome! :) We had fun and learned a lot from one another.

We were walking to go to someone's house that we knew, and across the street was a woman. So I told Sister Alderman, that we should go talk to her! So we did! It could have been weird, but we were just so excited to see her and talk to her! She was going to get her daughter from the bus stop so we offered to walk with her there! We talked to her all the way down the street and began to teach her about the Restoration, then we got her daughter went back to their home with them and finished teaching them that lesson! It was so amazing! She is super prepared! :) We invited her to the Christmas Party that night as well as Sondra's baptism and church, but she didn't end up coming to any of them. We'll get in touch with her asap!

We then stopped by Brian's and asked him how everything was going! He said he hadn't smoked for 4 days!!!! SO LEGIT! He said he felt happy!! We helped him clean out his ash trays and cigarettes in the flower beds and everything. He threw away his last pack of cigarettes and it was glorious!

Our ward Christmas party was that night! It was soooo good! They had an awesome music program! Sister Holmstead played a piano piece and we sang in the choir! So many friends of the member's of the ward came and Savannah & clan came and loved it and so did Salem!!! :) Mike and Nixynn came, but Sondra wasn't able to make it. We got to talk with everyone and had an awesome time. We shared A Savior is Born video with everyone there and bore our testimonies at the end of the program of our Savior and that we need to share the gift of the Savior with everyone this Christmas season. The spirit was super strong. This ward is amazing!



After that we went caroling to the Mayfield's, but they weren't home, so we sang to one of their neighbors and the mom LOVED it! She was freaking out because no one ever carols anymore. :)

Saturday-- We helped out with Sister Rudd's homeless feed she has every year! It's in the heart of Oildale, where there are a lot of homeless people and a lot of poverty. It was amazing seeing what people donated for it! Us and the elders helped serve all of the food and it was super amazing! We had a really great time, and it was touching being able to serve in the community like that. Really neat experience!



Then we went to the church building and prepped for SONDRA'S BAPTISM!!!!! :) IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mike bore his testimony afterwards and it was so powerful! Their lives have been permanently changed for the better, for the rest of eternity! The Ostberg girls were also baptized and we had the chance to help them get ready for that. It was so amazing! Words can't describe it. After teaching Sondra and knowing her and seeing the change take place, it's changed me forever, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it.





We then went caroling with the elders in the ward that night and it was super fun!

Sunday-- WAS THE MOST CRAZIEST BUT MOST AMAZING DAY!!!
I felt like I was drowning in blessings.. hahaha here's the run down of what happened at church!

-->Haven & Haylee came to church, but they came early, so the ward that meets before us invited them to join their primary for classes and everything, so we couldn't find them haha! But we soon figured out what had happened and got them in the right places. They have no knowledge of anything gospel related or anything spiritual, so we explained a lot to them through out Sacrament meeting.

-->Sister Rudd had a friend from camp come! Her name is Poppy and she just moved to Bakersfield. She texted Sister Rudd and asked her if she could go to church with her! :) She is going to be at the Rudd's for Christmas so it will be fun! We talked to her after church and she told us we could send missionaries to her apartment! :) 

--> Salem came! :) He is such an incredible kid! He loves church and was begging the elders to let him ride bikes with them to a lesson. He ended up going with them later that day! He's such a champ!! :) He's going to do great things.

-->The BURTON'S CAME! Sister Burton, Kaylle and Kyle all stayed for all three hours!! :) So amazing!!

-->I saved the best for last... SONDRA WAS CONFIRMED!!!!!!!! :) YAYAYAYYYYY! HAPPY DAY!!!! Heavy black heartHeavy black heartHeavy black heart She was so happy--ecstatic!!!!! SHE GLOWED!! :)

That night we had lessons with Salem and Kaylee and Kyle! Things are going well!

After reflecting the amazing week full of miracles and blessings we have had this last week, I was reading the scriptures and some conference talks in studies this morning, and I came to a conclusion of how I feel right now. No other words can describe how I feel, other than the lyrics from one of my favorite hymns:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me...
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine, 
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify...
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

That is my testimony and I feel so blessed.

Hope you all have an amazing week!
Love you all. :)
Love,
Sister Loar
xoxo

Monday, December 7, 2015

11/30-12/6

Hello Everybody!

This week was so crazy, filled with ups, downs, and MIRACLES!

Monday-- We had an amazing lesson with Sondra and Mike about sacrifice and the early pioneers of the church. It was amazing! We watched the movie, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It was super powerful. It renewed my testimony of the truthfulness of the message we share. It reminded me how amazing and selfless the prophets of God are. Both Sondra and Mike really liked it, it was so great!!

Tuesday-- We met Tyler, Janice, and Vanessa throughout the day and taught them the Restoration and invited them to be baptized. They were pretty interested and said yes! They didn't show up to church, though, so we will see if they are truly committed.

We had a few minutes after splits and before our lesson with Brian that night, so Sister Holmstead sang me a song while she played the piano, about the dog poo that was on her shoe earlier that day hahahahaha it was so hilarious. She is sooooo talented and pretty dang hilarious. She cracks me up!

We had a lesson with Sondra and Mike that night and Brother Bey came with us! It went SO well! It was about tithing and fasting and paying fast offering and they are doing so well. They have completely changed their lives! It's amazing to see the change in them. They have this light in their eyes and it warms my heart to see them everytime!!! :) THE GOSPEL IS A MIRACLE.

Wednesday-- We drove up to Tehachapi for MLC---- my last one.. :( I am going to miss that place. I love that little town. MLC was so great! There are always things we can do better and improve upon. Baptisms for the month of December are going to be out of this world! I'm super stoked! MIRACLES ARE HAPPENING. We got permission from President to stop by some recent converts' houses because Sister Holmstead also served in Golden Hills! Sadly no one was home, besides one person Sister Holmstead taught. We got to see Brother Brunner though!

That night we had a great lesson on the Law of Chastity with Sondra and Mike and Janessa Haney came with us! We went over the baptismal interview questions with her, and Sondra is SO READY FOR BAPTISM. :) It's amazing to see her desire. After teaching her and going through this process with her, it has helped me to realize who is truly prepared out of those we have been finding and teaching. It reminds me of Letty and Robert and others I have found and taught on the mission.

Thursday-- Almost all of our lessons cancelled, but we were able to go to Sister Harris's and watch the new Christmas video, A Savior is Born and invite her to share it with her friends! She referred us to her neighbor, so we went over and tried to teach him, but he wasn't too open and told us to come back at a better time. We ended up seeing her other neighbor outside and teaching her! Her name is Misty. We also met Michelle her other neighbor, but we were running super late to our dinner appointment and couldnt' teach her a full lesson then, so we left her with the Savior is Born card to look up the video. She said we could come back and teach her more! :) 

We had dinner at the McMullins and it was super good! We hurried and picked Mary Martin up and she came with us to help paint the Haney's son and girlfriend's hallway. Their son is a member, and then Jessica is his girlfriend, and not a member. We have taught her a few lessons when they come to dinner at his parent's house on Sundays. She's soooo awesome! And we've asked her if she would be baptized, but she said she wouldn't be able to spend the time she needs to in investigating the church and everything, since she works and goes to school full time. She hadn't prepped for painting yet, so we first helped her tape everything. While we were taping and getting everything ready, she began to ask us questions about how lessons went and what we did day to day and when we could communicate with our families, normal questions people ask us. We only had 30 minutes until our next appointment so she didn't want to start painting that night, she then asked if we could do a lesson! Say what! haha so awesome! So we taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was super powerful! She said she wants to be baptized but she needs to figure out the situation with her boyfriend.. So hopefully we will see some miracles happen! We are supposed to go back and help them finish painting in the next couple of weeks.

We had a heart to heart lesson with Brian that night, asking him lots of questions and seeing if he was truly interested to change and apply the gospel to his life. He didn't really have good reasons for wanting to continue, but we will give him a few more shots and see if he's serious about it.

Friday-- We had a Zone Training Meeting and it went really well! I love those meetings.
We had exchanges that day with the Snow Sisters and I went with Sister Olsen again! It was really fun! 

Saturday-- We had a meeting with the AP's and other STL's, so that was super good. It's exactly what I needed. So many things to work on and become better at! Always reaching higher to do a little better. You'd think I would have it figured out by now haha, not quite. I don't think I'll ever have this missionary and STL thing figured out. 

During our meeting, Sondra had her baptismal interview and she PASSED! :) SO EXCITING!!!! 
She is sooo so so excited to be baptized.

We went back to Michelle's and taught her the Restoration! She committed to baptism and everything! She expressed to us that she is going through a divorce right now and she has three small little kids! She said she knows God sent us to her! So amazing!

We picked up Mary, probably for the last time (her family is moving to Lehi, UT! so sad we are losing her!) to come with us to see some people. We got a hold of Janice and had a great lesson on the Restoration with her! 

Then we dropped by the Lindley's before heading in for the night... most HILARIOUS family ever. I love them.

Sunday-- = BEST DAY EVER

Alright, so I'm positive that fasting brings forth blessings and miracles.. and they over flow our miracle and blessing cups! Sondra wasn't able to come because she was SUPER sick. But Mike came! yayyyyyy Mike! :) So good to see him come! Sister Rudd's little sister moved into our ward boundaries!! She has been coming to church for the last little bit, but she didn't live in our boundaries so we couldn't teach her officially. We taught her after church and she is GOLD! SO SOLID! We set her with a baptismal date of December 29th!! She is so amazing. Her life has completely changed. So cool to see her transform into who she is right now! SHE IS AWESOME. 

There was an elder that used to serve in this ward like three years ago that came back to visit. He gave us a bunch of people to go by and see and teach! He also baptized a guy and was working with his family when he was here. We haven't' been able to get a hold of that family, the Palmer's, for as long as I've been here. But because he was visiting them, we were able to go over and meet them and Salem, their 13 year old boy came to church with Elder Johnston and it was soooo awesome! He loved it and then later that day they came over to the Dibble's with us and Mike and Nixynn to watch the Christmas Devotional and have dinner! It was soooo good! He said he wants to go to mutual and the Christmas party this next week and Sondra's baptism! The elder's in the ward have been working with an awesome family and the mom and three of her daughters are all getting baptized the same time Sondra is! So we are having a combined baptism and 5 people are getting baptized into the Highland Manor ward this week! AMAZING!! :) The Lord is soooooo good. He blesses us sooo much.

We had a lesson that night with the Burton's! Kyle and Kaylee are slow to progress, but we will get their family back! The James' came with us and it went really well. :)

Then we stopped by the Bey's and put a couple ornaments on their tree for the finishing touches to their decorating for the holidays! 

I love this time of year and the Christmas season. I love being a missionary and having the opportunity to share the gift of the Savior with EVERYONE! :)

SHARE THIS VIDEO ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Flood the world with the true meaning of the reason why we celebrate Christmas. 


I am so grateful for a Savior and that He was born to save us from sin and sadness.

I love you all! Have an amazing and blessed week!
PRAY AND READ YOUR SCRIPTURES! :)

Love,
Sister Loar
xoxoxo