Monday, August 8, 2016

August 7 The Teaching Space

(I, Janet, had asked Abby about this teaching space she'd mentioned. Here's the scoop!)

The Teaching Space = City Headquarters = City HQ = Amazing Miracle From Heavenly Father
What it is: in an office building, up on the third floor away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is a quiet place dedicated as a mini church space. There are 3 classrooms with different pictures showing different aspects of the gospel (the Savior's baptism, the First Vision, and a painting of that statue at the visitors center in Salt Lake with all the stars behind it) There is also a "conference room" if we have a few extra people in the lesson. It's decorated like a chapel, different paintings of Jesus, scenes from the Book of Mormon, stuff like that. We are so, so blessed; it is something that President has been working on for months. Most of the people we teach in the city are university students, and they are pretty busy. Kind of like how the YSA can go to the institute near UT, our investigators can come straight there, have a lesson, feel the Spirit, feel spiritually uplifted, then go continue their classes. How awesome is that?!?!
My new companion, Sister Coultrup. She is originally from England, but she and her family have lived in Calgary for the past 14 years :) 

A very wonderful week. There are always so many lessons to learn and I especially LOVE being able to study the scriptures everyday. Not something I ever appreciated before, but it is my lifeline. There have been a couple of days when we were asked to do something early in the morning, and I missed those study times. Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need, and has given us those guidelines of what to follow. 
I am so sad to hear about Vivi. (Janet here-A teacher at Vivi's school passed away in her sleep, and a boy in our ward also passed away in his sleep, so she was having a hard time sleeping herself, worried she wouldn't wake up)  Definitely keep praying for her, have you showed her any of the videos the church has about the Plan of Salvation? Some are really cute, and that's comforting information to share. Sorry, I've been doing a lot with those videos, they were the first thing I thought of.
 I am excited to get to share with you all in person all the wonderful things I have learned. Speaking of which, I saw a form listing all the missionaries going home on February 28, and my name was on it....then I looked a few days later and my name was gone! I have spoken with President a bit about extending, but I wanted to know your thoughts? I'll put Dad on this email so he can see as well. The latest President can extend on his own without going through Salt Lake is March 25, which also happens to be the day my visa expires ;) I love being a missionary, and there is such a great work to do here. But it comes down to what the Lord wants, and although I feel good about it, I want to pray more about it. Something more to think about. Love you!!!!

July 31

One quick spiritual highlight of last week, we were finally able to meet up with a potential we felt had been avoiding us a bit, but finally had a few moments last night. As we took her to the teaching space, she immediately felt the Spirit there. Such a joy and desire to talk about God, learn about Him, she spent so much time talking about how great she felt the time went so fast! We could only commit her to church and reading the restoration pamphlet, which apparently she did very quickly! 20 minutes after our lesson ended, she texted us (she had already sent MANY thanking us for the time we had spent with her) asking for a Book of Mormon! Amazing evidence of how much Heavenly Father has prepared His children. And there are so many of them!!! People all around us, who have no idea about God, or that He has a plan for all of them. How blessed are we??

There are heaps of marriages happening around here in Australia, like all the YSAs decided that 2016 was the year to be married! Glad I'm safe, but there's a fun fact for you :)
love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 I know everyone is kind of on a trip high, and the pictures Dani sent me of your vacation look amazing! Great spiritual and social highlights haha. Something I've been thinking a lot about is the specifics of what to share with people. I shared with Rachel that that is what helps SO much when we're talking to people, giving them more specifics of why we are doing what we're doing. But a question for you all to think about, and hopefully send me the answer next week? :D

1) What does the gospel mean to you personally?

2) How does being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints make a difference in your life?

Love you all so much, and glad you could have such great experience, even without me there!

Sister Townsend

July 24

One night this week, we were out walking in the city, and it was cold. We've had some cold nights here, and the rain doesn't add to that, and this night was no exception. We had just left from a really awesome lesson with a girl named Dia. She is from China and so prepared to learn more about God. That is a lot of the students that we meet. But as we went out, some of our enthusiasm left us. There weren't heaps of people out, and everyone looked pretty busy. We walked past this stop light, and Sister Mason saw a girl just standing there on her phone. She was about to stop, but we kept walking and she forgot about it. Then plans changed, we turned around and walked back the same way we had come, and Sister Mason saw this girl again. But we walked right past her! That was enough. We stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, turned around, and introduced ourselves to her. She told us she was new to the city, and very lost. We got to help her find her way, and get to the right bus stop. As we walked with her, we shared a bit about what we did and about the teaching space we have, right there in the city, where people can come to feel peace and a closer connection with God. (PS this place is beautiful, it has done so much to build Heavenly Father's work here in Adelaide. I will really try hard to send pictures of that next week!) Then the hail started coming down! We ran with her to the bus stop, and it was  great bonding experience. We are going to be seeing her this week!
​This week I have been studying a lot about hope, and relying on God. That's what this life is all about, right? There's a really beautiful passage in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi chapter 4, where Nephi takes some time to kind of journal his feelings about God. He talks about how we all make mistakes, even when we have been blessed to see the great blessings and goodness of God in our lives. Remembering that is what can give us the courage to keep going, and to avoid those mistakes that are easy to do but leave us feeling sad. Then in the Bible, Romans 8:31, there is a great promise - If God be for us, who can be against us?
I know God is there. I know He is real and wants to help all of us have greater peace in this life and in the life to come. So many of the questions that we have can be answered by searching the words of God, found through the scriptures and the words of His living prophets. I love you all so much, have an amazing week!

Just a quick side note, if any of you were wondering about my English? A lot of people we talk to in the city are students, and learning English as a second language. So most of the time, I'm speaking kind of broken English; you know, using small words, small sentences, trying to get straight to the point. And we're going to be teaching an English class soon! That will be so good. But yeah, sometimes when I talk to people who know English well, I realize I'm using my broken English. But I love it!!😁 

Here's a picture with my caption- sometimes you just got to put on pants and lay down. :)

July 17

Good morning dear family! Hope all is going well and you are resting after such a long trip!
Last week on Monday after we emailed, we went to the beach. Australia, and I have only briefly seen the ocean a couple of times. So we went, and it was SO COLD. We even got some hot chocolate, there was lots of wind; it wasn't quite what we were expecting. So then as we were travelling back into the city, my companion realizes that although she brought a change of clothes, she didn't bring any proselyting shoes...and we were both wearing tennis shoes. But I decided there's always something more to experience, so I had her wear my proselyting shoes and I wore my bright blue tennis shoes with the orange laces. So fun.
Tuesday we got to see a less active lady from South America, and we sang for her. I always say a very fervent prayer when we do that, hoping we will sing well so that she can feel the Spirit. We do hard things :)
Thursday was a miracle day. The bus we got on was really crowded, and my companion and I were separated. She sat down next to a girl named Dana. They started talking right away, and she was definitely interested in what we did! She is from China, and doesn't have really any background with God. Right after we got off the bus we thought, is she doing anything today? So we called her and invited her to a lesson that day.  She came and it was so, so good. The spirit was so strong. One of my all time favorite things about being a missionary is seeing someone pray for the first time in their lives. It is so special. And the Spirit was so strong. Miracles happen when you apply yourselves wholeheartedly to the work. 
Sunday we got to see Tanya again, the lady we met who speaks Ausland. Communication is still tricky, but I think we are getting there, slowly but surely. 
The Book of Mormon is so amazing. I thought it might be a little repetitive, reading for so long every day, but it has such wonderful answers, sometimes I need to spend that long to focus and find and recognize them :) but I love the scriptures!
Love you!!

Sister Townsend

July 11 Kangaroos!

I'm sure Dani is so excited to be in New York. What a tender mercy with the Broadway tickets. We don't have as much time today, but I wanted to share I SAW A KANGAROO. The photo is taking so long to load, and that's just one photo, so you might not get to see, but it was really really cool. We went to a wildlife park and got to hold koalas and feed and pet kangaroos. So fun. 
There are some big things happening in the mission. My companion and I have a new assignment, and it keeps us pretty busy. But life is good, we want it to be busy and productive! Sorry we're not actually allowed to share much of the specific things we are doing, but it is pretty fun and there's a lot of good things coming from it. Stay tuned! Just know that I have come to recognize even more how Heavenly Father has such a big influence on everything that we do. No way would any of this be possible without Him, and I am so grateful for that.
The week proselyting is the same a lot of the days, but at the same time each day is unique. We talk to so many people a day, usually when they are sitting at bus stops, having a lunch break, a study break, all these things :) And there is so much to learn from each person! Unfortunately I've got a cold, and sometimes my ears are too blocked for me to hear properly? I wish everyone spoke sign language :)

Hope your vacation goes really well, send lots of pictures!!!

July 7

This week was Fourth of July, I'm sure you are all aware of that. Luckily, my companion and I remembered the night before, so I made sure to wear the red, white and blue. But it was a bit of a different environment to the beaches, barbeques, and fireworks y'all saw. We saw rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. Someone told us it was the most rainfall that Adelaide has had in one day in over 50 years. And I got to be there in the middle of it! Unfortunately we forgot an umbrella that day, but we had fun. There really are so many blessings that come, and it was so cool to meet those that God had prepared to meet us, even out in the rain. We were walking swiftly from bus stop to bus stop, hiding from the rain. So much fun :D then that night one of the senior couples brought already made hot chocolate, cookies and fruit to our flat, which was the sweetest thing ever.
Update on my deaf friend who we met last week. We were able to go and share a message with her, really good to build on that common faith that we all have. No matter who we talk to, I love sharing the wonderful things that Jesus Christ has done for us. 
Explanation for my late email: every transfer we get one day to go to the temple, which is a really special place we can go to worship God and learn more about Him. It is the House of the Lord. And this week we got to go, just a couple of hours ago! And this is all the missionaries I am serving around, including that wonderful senior couple, the Larkins. They are from Las Vegas, and are volunteering as missionaries as well. We would be so lost without the GREAT help and support they are to us and the areas we are in. 
God loves us, His son Jesus Christ love us, and we are all here for a purpose! I love you!!

June 13 The week I kissed a camel

Sometimes things come up you are not expecting. For me, yesterday was just a normal day. For the rest of Australia, it was the queen's birthday, which means a public holiday. Then we found out the queen's birthday is actually in April, and got really confused. Oh well. But yesterday we went to see a family who none of us had ever met. They live in our area and we thought we'd pop by. It was way down out of town, and it was full of livestock. We walk up, get to know them, and they take us around to meet all the animals. And he had 10 CAMELS. 10! Who needs 10 camels?? But there was one in particular that was really affectionate. I got to be real close and personal and feed him a carrot, then get to know him a little more. He really appreciated it and last but not least we had a staring contest.

On a more spiritual note this week we had a great time at church on Sunday. It was a week where we could feel the Spirit guiding us through each day. President and Sister Parker came on Saturday, and we had a 12 hour zone conference!! Mostly consisting of practicing how we can teach better, which I really need. I know there is no way I'm a perfect teacher, but what I'm teaching is the perfect message. So anything I can do to improve to not be in the way of that I appreciate. The more faith we have the more miracles and blessings we will see in our lives, it just takes a bit of patience sometimes (Ether 12:6). I know that God will always be there for us, and have been able to recognize it so much more as I see it EVERY SINGLE DAY. I love this gospel, and I love all of you! Have a safe happy week, and if you feel down, think about camels :)

​(A few messages to family)
We do have a car, and we use it at night time and traveling to further areas (for safety and convenience) but we try to use the bikes all the time that we can, more effective that way.
So far I have had 4 baptisms, and it's pretty typical here in Australia, but we are working to change that, and seeing it happen soon :)
Thank you for your testimony of the gospel. It's so true!
What I love is that Moroni 10:32 is one of the scriptures we memorize, and it is JUST SO GOOD. My opinion is that sometimes people overlook the massive difference it makes to live righteously. Because it's a collection of little things, rather than one big thing, it can be easy to view as unimportant. 
I love you!

June 5 Miracles and Accidents

Greetings dear family!! I have a story to share. There is a family we have been working with, and the 8 year old daughter was baptized last Saturday. (this is Nesi - the one in white)

​Afterwards, we were talking with her older sister Selu, who we had met a couple of times. Turns out, she used to attend Young Womens in New Zealand, and she wants to become a missionary one day! We set up a time when we could see her, then something came up, but we finally got to see her last night. It was so cool to see the Spirit working with her as we shared more about Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. And seeing her strong desire to change. When we invited her to baptism, she said, "Yeah, I think I need that!" She looked so happy, and grateful to have a direction that she can start to have with her life. I know God is mindful of each of His children, and we are just here to be His hands.
Going off of my thought from last week, where I talked about urgency? That translates to when we are biking as well! And biking fast helps us to stay warm, which is much needed. But sometimes accidents occur....So this week, I fell off my bike. Well, "fall off" doesn't really do it justice, and sounds like I was clumsy. But this time, I actually FLEW off my bike, right over the handlebars! That's what happens when you go way too fast, then try to brake really hard on the front brakes. The front wheel stops moving, but the back wheel keeps going! So I got to fly over the front (luckily I put my hands up) landed I think on my back, and the bike flipped over and landed on me! Poor Sister Rougeau got to see the whole thing and lift my bike off me, then there was a car coming, so I kind of crab walked over to the side of the road. Then the car pulled over and asked if I was okay, and I was bleeding, but all I was thinking about was "He's going to think missionaries are crazy!" He was nice though. Luckily, it was just my hands, one knee, and one elbow that got scraped, and only my left hand was bleeding. (So good, because I have to shake everyone's hand with my right hand 😀 ) And the worst part was, I was wearing a white dress.  And this is all that happened to my knee!  How lucky am I? I am still amazed nothing was broken, but having injuries would keep us from doing the work! 
I hope you all have a wonderful week! And I think Father's Day may be coming up, so if I miss it, (Australia is different) HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE AMAZING DADS
I love you!!

Sister Townsend

May 29 Dead sprint from appt to appt

"You're lucky I'm an old bloke, otherwise I would want to give you a kiss and a cuddle!" Nice old man :)
Australia is such an amazing place. I love the work here, and especially the people. Even if there are some interesting experiences in store. It's all part of learning, and I am really learning so much. 
I've mentioned before how the mission is making a big emphasis on using the bikes we have been blessed with. And the plus side is we get to exercise along the way! But there is really so much work to be done, when we are not with people we want to either sprint, or bike as fast as we can to where we need to be at next. No need to waste time traveling right? Especially when it gets dark so quickly now. Winter has come up fast, and it gets dark around 5:30-6, depending on the clouds. And winter in Australia = rain!! The best part is finding those we can go see when it gets dark, I get kind of nervous about walking to someone's house we don't know when it's completely dark outside. But the stars are beautiful :) 
Sorry for the shorter email today, but please keep smiling!!
I love you all,
Sister Townsend

It's been an interesting few weeks. I don't remember if I told you, but our really awesome investigator (Nesi) turned out to be a child of record, just a child of a super less active member. She is getting baptised this Saturday! This week we finally got to have a lesson with Nesi and her mum. In the Polynesian culture it is very common, after people get married, for the wife to join the husbands church, regardless of what her beliefs are. And that's what happened with this mum, and her husband was Catholic. The lesson we wanted to teach Nesi was about the importance of the covenants she would be making at baptism. And it was so cool to be able to remind the mum about it, and she shared the special feelings she had at HER baptism. As we were talking, we shared about the sacrament, and the ordinance that it is. Nesi came to church as usual, but I thought it was just with her grandma like always. But then I got up to give my talk and there was her mum! Awesome miracle.
Another good learning experience for me this week came from a street contact. We met this man who said he had done all this research, with an "open mind", and appreciated most what he found in the Koran. As he was explaining some of the specifics, my mind was thinking of how close Satan tries to imitate the truth. The contrast was so apparent, and he was so decided on what he had found. No more "open mind", or any way he wanted to read the Book of Mormon. But it made me so grateful for this book that we have, and of the knowledge we gain from it.
Training a new missionary is such an experience, I love it. There's so much I want her to learn, so much I hope she can accomplish and be better at than me :) one thing that is cool is how much she knew before she came. She was a ward missionary back home, and got to experience what it was like going to coordination meeting, and I think ward council meeting. Awesome background knowledge.
Love you!!

May 22 I just love Mildura

What a week of highlights!!
Our mission president and his wife drove out to see us this week, and it was WONDERFUL. President and Sister Parker are amazing, and want to help us in any way that they can. They have so much love for the missionaries. We learned a heap about what we can do to improve our teaching skills, and really just keep helping everyone around us to have more spiritual experiences. We really focused on what our purpose is, and what more we can do. I know that Heavenly Father is directing this work, and He asks of us to be our very best, as we do HIS work.
I was definitely able to see how the Spirit prompts us in certain ways, but ONLY when we have put in the most preparation we could on our part. There is such a difference between "winging it", and having actual plans then letting the Spirit guide. Twice this week we had plans, a couple of them fell through, and as we were biking to the next back up, the spirit came and said, "No! You need to go try this person." Twice! Because of this, we were able to teach 2 amazing young women. The first was Tori. She is from Robinvale, a small town about 2 hours away, and we've met her a few times before, but were never able to have a proper lesson with her. But we did, and she had so many questions about Jesus Christ that we were able to answer. I loved it. The second was Jess. Also met her a while back, and haven't been in contact with her. (Turned out, her phone just didn't have any credit, and we didn't think to call her. Shame on us) We just saw Jess yesterday, and she was so ready. She had been hearing on the radio people talking about prayer, and she didn't have any idea how to do it. Then come the missionaries, here to teach her about prayer and developing a stronger relationship with God! It was great :) and we got to teach her more about the Holy Ghost - the Comforter (John 14:26-27)
Last but not least, we had a musical fireside last night. There were lamps everywhere, and the whole program was how we can strengthen ourselves through tough times. And I got to play piano for a straight 40 minutes as background noise :) But the spirit there was so strong, and we got to meet people who hadn't ever come to our church before, and help them understand what was going on. Great stuff!

A final thought to share... This is a verse of scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, which was given through modern day prophets. It is in Doctrine and Covenants 1:23 "That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world." I know that this is true. I feel it every day. But I also know that it applies to all of us. We can all open our mouths to share what we know, and God helps give us the strength to do it.

Also for anyone who would like to see, check out Sister Parker's blog, I know she has heaps of pictures, and probably more about what it's like here in Australia, I know I'm not very good at that! It's at