Monday, March 30, 2015

General Conference Week! Yay!!

Well hello there!

This week has been incredibly interesting. I did a couple of things I never thought I would do on my mission (see pictures below for details).

We came across a dirt road on Monday.... 
....and there was a midget pony, a donkey,
a zebra,
and a camel. Also we found Arnold Schwarzenegger's ex-wife's house. Never thought I would see that on my mission.
One more picture of our dirt road adventure. It's amazing what you find when you are trying to deliver a birthday card!

Monique and family- Monique is not progressing at all. But every time we go over there the spirit is so strong and we have these amazing lessons. We have developed a really close relationship with her. I seriously just love and adore her whole family. We went over there again on Thursday. I felt prompted to talk about when I was baptized. I told them how my dad pulled me out of the water and how I felt. And I told them that the first thing my mom said to me was "How does it feel to be perfect?" I honestly don't remember exactly what I said. That's the funny thing about going by the Spirit- sometimes you walk out of a lesson and think "what the heck did I just say." Anyway, Monique was crying and her 11 year-old son, David, just flat out interrupted me mid-testimony and said "okay I want to be baptized." When I asked him why he said something about how he wanted to feel clean and perfected. Then he looked at his mom. She wants it, but she is too afraid. We went over Sunday before church to go see if they were coming and they were getting ready and all excited...then they didn't show up. My heart is seriously breaking. I think about how we all have agency. I think about what Heavenly Father must think when I do something wrong or don't use my agency like I should. It's so devastating to see people you care about not make the right choices. I don't know- I bet Heavenly Father laughs at me a lot haha.

On Saturday we had a mission-wide conference. It was five hours long. Holy Cow. Elder Brent Nielson from the 70 came. I have President Van Cott's permission to tell you that he will be speaking in General Conference on Sunday. HOW COOL IS THAT.
Elder Nielson talked all about the difference between the redeeming power and the strengthening power of the Atonement. The Atonement helps us progress from good to better to best to Saint. He talked about Mosiah 3:19 and how a diamond in it's natural state is ugly and needs to be changed to look like what people put on rings. Also this is really good from my notes:

1. the plan is for us to have trials
2. if you don't have trials the plan isn't working
3. the Lord STRETCHES us through trials- that's how we GROW- how we know who we are and who we need to BECOME.

When you have trials "Don't freak out." That's what he said. We are supposed to be experiencing trials. It's all apart of the perfect plan. Here's a quote he said that I loved: "The reason your mission will be the best 18 months of your life won't be because it will be a party; it will be the best 18 months because the Lord stretched you." This is easy to say, but trials are incredibly difficult. The way we make it through is by the power of the Atonement.

Mosiah 24:15-> When we submit CHEERFULLY the Lord will STRENGTHEN us.

So apply that generously as needed.

President Eyring's talk at the Women's Conference applies to this, too. Charity is the pure love of Christ. We need to have infinite compassion and help one another and support each other because we are all going through trials."We lighten the loads of others best when we use to Holy Ghost and the Lord's love to comfort them."

I am starting to notice that everything we learn in district meeting, zone meeting, zone conference, church, mission conference, and apparently general conference, go hand-in hand. It's like the Lord wants us to learn something. Or something.

Also church yesterday was pretty awesome because my spectacular companion gave a spectacular talk on agency and President Van Cott came for third hour to talk about member missionary work. Yay for the gospel!

Well I sure love all of you punks. I hope you get my letter I sent soon.


Sister Olsen or Ashlee or Ashbug. 


We went to the Bench. Again. It's fine.

Look Mom! I painted a firetruck!

Service at a whole new level.
We ate pizza to celebrate Sister Magleby's halfway day. This is how much of her mission she has done vs. how much I have done in pizza form.

Here's a picture that Sister Mags took. I'm really cute. lol

Monday, March 23, 2015

Two Months and Counting!

Well hello there!

Welcome to the second week of my second transfer. Also we have crossed the two month threshold! Hallelujah.

This week I never thought I would have two investigators at activity days. Yup. My only two progressing investigators are Kaitlyn and Natalie now. We are still working with the other ones, they just are "not progressing" because they aren't keeping commitments.
Kaitlyn and Natalie came to activity day this week! YAY!

We haven't seen Monique in a whole week and I am really worried about her. Her brother Roman was a convert, but now he is less active, so Monique is really afraid that that will happen to her. On top of that sincere things just keep popping up that are keeping us from seeing her. She has to keep taking her grandma to the hospital. Stuff like that. Please pray for her. I seriously cannot describe to you how much I love this family. IT'S SO WEIRD. I just want them to have the blessings of the gospel so bad! And Monique definitely knows it's true. She bears testimony to us all the time and the spirit is so evident whenever we teach her. This is just more proof that Satan tries everything in his power to make sure we don't progress. 

Have I told you about the Morenos? Lisa Moreno was a less active. She was recently reactivated and her two daughters- Michelle (16) and Emily (14) got baptized last fall. THEY ARE ON FIRE. I need to take a picture with them because I love them so much. They take such good care of us. Sometimes it's hard because we can't be there for more than hour for lessons and they just love us so much and want us to stay. It's hilarious. We always have to interrupt and leave so we can go to other appointments and work hard and what not. I need to send a picture because I basically love them to death. We are teaching them the new member lessons. We taught them the law of chastity and it was AWESOME! The whole time these girls were bearing testimony about how much commandments have helped them in their lives. That they are not restrictions like people think, but they are freeing. Sister Moreno was crying; her family has come so much closer together by living the gospel than ever before.

Since they are truly converted, they want all of their family to feel these blessings, too. We have gotten so many referrals from them! This past week we taught a lesson with Yolanda, Sister Moreno's aunt. Yolanda's daughter- Cindee was there too. And Yolanda's brother- Richard. And Cindee's three daughters- Bree(22), Michelle (19), and Alyssa (16). And her son- David. And his girlfriend- Tianna. And Bree's baby son- Jason. Yeah I was sweating bullets. We pretty much taught a class. But they are all so prepared! They were all asking amazing questions. We have only met with them twice, but they keep telling us how much they love us and how they want to read the Book of Mormon and learn more AND IT'S AMAZING. And what's even weirder is I already love them. Yup. There's just a plethora of love when you are a missionary. It's super weird, yet cool.

I got a huge kick in the pants at church yesterday. I keep freaking out because I just want everyone to love me and I feel so inadequate as a missionary. And this week I have just felt super stressed in general. In sacrament meeting I was looking around at all of these families and I realized something. I just need to get over myself. All of these people need me. As a missionary, I need to make sure that all of these people know how much I care about them and that I am here to serve them. It's about making other people feel comfortable and helping others come closer to Christ. And honestly it's super tiring. It's exhausting to be constantly thinking about other people and not yourself! Being selfless is hard, and it's taking a lot of work, but I am honestly learning so much from it.

I want to share 1 Nephi 8:8 today. It's Lehi's dream. In the dream he "traveled for the space of many hours in darkness" AND THEN "he began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on him". We all do this. We wander in the darkness for so long before we ask Heavenly Father for help. DON'T WAIT. Pray now! You don't have to be in the dark by yourself.

I love you all and pray for you every night. Be safe, and remember to pray:)

Sister Shlee

This is Sister Vickers. She is really funny. She is the member that took us on an excursion last week that pretty much took up our whole pday. We don't have a Cafe Rio in Banning so she took us to Redlands! What a dear.

This is my Cafe Rio. I GOT HORCHATA!!!!
CA sunrise.....

...wait just kidding. That was during a weird storm. THIS is the CA sunrise.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I made it through my first transfer!

Hello and welcome to my weekly letter.

We are going on an excursion today so I don't have a lot of time-sorry!

So for my second transfer I am staying in Banning with Sister Magleby. YAYYAYAYAYAY!!!! I'm honestly just so grateful that my mission president is so inspired. I know that I'm supposed to be here and it's super humbling slash incredible. Also I would like to apologize for my preachy email last week. I need to take a chill pill.

So Monique and her kids didn't make it to church. Again. UGH. PLEASE PRAY FOR HER AND HER KIDS! Satan is awful. Being on my mission I've realized how real he is and I just hate him and he's so flipping annoying. ANYWAY. He is really working hard on this family.

On Saturday we were supposed to go with Monique and Natalie to a baptism, but Monique's grandma wouldn't let her go (Monique lives with her mom and grandma). Monique shares a car with her grandma and she wouldn't let her take her car. I have never felt such disappointment in my whole entire life. I LOVE MONIQUE. SO MUCH. AND I JUST WANT HER TO RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS OF THE GOSPEL. UGH.

What was amazing is right after that we were able to visit a referral and get a return appointment! Her name is Yolanda and she is pretty awesome. What was so amazing is that I knew if we had gone to the baptism, we wouldn't have been with Yolanda. She was a referral so we probably would have seen her at some point, but that moment we had with her was perfect timing and I knew that she needed us right then.

So pretty much I was an emotional wreck Saturday night because I was so aware of God's love for me. I needed to feel that disappointment because it helped me realize how much I love Monique and how desperately I want to help her. But also, I felt sooooo good when we were talking with Yolanda. HEAVENLY FATHER JUST IS SO AWARE OF ME AND IT'S AMAZING!!

I went to my first baptism this week! The zone leaders baptized a 14 year old girl and it was AMAZING. I led the music. Yay!

Sorry this letter is so short! But I need to go slash send you all some pictures! I love you very much! Also I would like you to look up "Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease" by Elder Bednar. I wanted to talk about it, but I'm out of time! READ IT THOUGH IT'S SO GOOD AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH!

Love you family! I pray for you everyday!

Love, Ashlee

Yay for the Banning Bench!! We are cute!!

We went to the bench for a picnic last Sunday! Sister Merill left today (the one in the orange T shirt). Sister white is the one in green. Love her!

Thanks for the outift gma and Hollie! LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Here's a random field I frolicked in.

These are the Schroths. Sister Schroth is amazing and I love her. Her husband Greg isn't a member. Love him too! He made me yummy ribs :)

Sister Magleby and I with ward members in Banning.

Tennesee, Tennesse; there ain't no place I'd rather be....

Monday, March 9, 2015

Last Week of the Transfer!!


My first transfer is already almost over! It's so weird because I feel like I have been here forever, but at the same time it feels like everything is just happening at lightening speed. Being a missionary is really weird.

Remember those Chick fila tapes that we used to get in the kids meals and listen to all the time in the car? There were some Book of Virtues ones and then they had a couple cartoon ones about Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman. Well I went on exchanges this week and volunteered at the DI and WE SAW SOME. They were still in the plastic and everything! I never thought I would see those on my mission, much less for the rest of my life! If I had a cassette player I would have totally bought them.

Let's see, what happened this week... Well since Sister Magleby is the STL for this zone I went on a LOT of exchanges. We even have more this week.

WE HAVE A NEW INVESTIGATOR. Her name is Cecilia and she is this really cool native american woman and she has these awesome feather tattoos. The Zone Leaders are working with her husband so we have started working with her. The meeting that we had with her this week was when we were on exchanges so my trainer wasn't there. Sooooooo I was in charge of the lesson.


It wasn't that bad. We talked a little about the Atonement. The important part was we got a return appointment and she said she will come to church! YAY!

Oh my goodness things with Monique are going crazy.  Pray for her. Seriously. This past Sunday was Stake Conference so we thought we wouldn't try to get her to come. But all week something was telling me that I should really try to get her there. Well a general authority came to the Yukaipa Stake conference- President Packer of the 5th quorum of the 70. He did SUCH a good job! (more on that in a bit). But the entire time he was talking I just felt like an awful missionary because I knew Monique should have been there. Morale of the story- LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT! President Packer was telling us a story and he said, "the Holy Ghost said to me, 'you missed it you big dope." Yup. That's how I felt in a nut shell.
Things really are going good with Monique though. Sister Magleby and I have planned extensively to make sure she makes it to church this week. It truly is amazing how much love I feel for her and her family though. The other day she took notes on the Restoration. SHE TOOK NOTES. Investigators don't do that! It was amazing!

So I'm not going to lie. This week has been rough for me. Sometimes I feel like I'm not being guided by the Spirit. I feel like I'm just working so hard and my butt is just getting kicked AND I'M SO TIRED. Mom. I cannot tell you how tired I am. And I just felt awful because I felt like I wasn't feeling the Spirit at all.

So here's the thing. I was dumb. The Holy Ghost said to me, "You missed it, you big dope." President Packer's talk reallyyyyy got to me. I had to really evaluate my expectations. The Holy Ghost isn't going to smack me on the head. It's little things- like feeling I'm supposed to make sure Monique gets to church. We need to be so so SO sensitive to the spirit. It really is just a tiny small little thing. Recognizing it can be tricky.
Usually missionaries don't get to go to the adult sessions of conference, but President Packer specifically invited us. Probably because the whole thing was about missionary work and the ward council. Councils are SO IMPORTANT in missionary work. Working with the ward council is HUGE for us. Missionaries come and go, so it is SO IMPORTANT that the ward council works closely with the missionaries to make sure that they're investigators are fellowshipped.
Anyway that was a tangent. But at the end of the adult session, President Packer said, "I sense there are several of you here tonight that are struggling and just trying so hard." He then said something about how important it is to really obey Heavenly Father's commandments and to really APPLY the ATONEMENT to our lives. That is something I really need to work on. We always talk about how the Savior suffered for all of our sins so he knows everything we go through. But how do we really apply that?

The Sunday session, President Packer talked about how we can develop our faith. 1st Pray. 2nd. Recognize the Holy Ghost. 3rd Apply the Atonement. Yup. Essentially everything that I need to work on. I really feel like that was meant for me, but then again so did a lot of people probably. But that's what's so cool about the Gospel. It applies to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. Specifically and individually.
During conference he had all of the missionaries stand up.....Then he had all of the parents of missionaries stand up. That really got to me. I have never felt more humbled in my entire life. Heavenly Father does not need all of these people to do his work. He LETS us do it. There are seriously so many righteous and wonderful people that I get to serve with. There are so many righteous and wonderful people that have completely given up 18-24 months of their lives to completely serve others and to share the gospel. That is a huge testimony to me of how true this work really is. How cool is it that our whole family- not just me- gets to be apart of that?

The last thing I want to share is what President VanCott said. He bore his testimony at conference. President Packer had previously shared a story about how he forgot his shoes, but didn't realize it until he was almost at work and it pretty much screwed up his whole day because he had to go all the way back for them and was way late for all his appointments. President Van Cott said that President Packer had shared this story with him earlier this month. The night after he heard this story, he had a dream of two specific missionaries in the mission that were walking in a field and had forgotten their shoes. He was calling out to them, but they couldn't hear him. The next morning President Van Cott met with these Elders and they were able to sort everything out.

So I wanted to make sure that you all had your shoes on. That sounds sappy and Dad is probably rolling his eyes, but I'm serious! Are you reading the scriptures every night as a family??? I wanted to share a quote with you:“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).

These promises—increased love and harmony in the home, greater respect between parent and child, increased spirituality and righteousness—are not idle promises, but exactly what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said "the Book of Mormon will help us draw nearer to God.” (Ezra Taft Benson October 1986 General Conference)
I know this will really help our family. I pray for you all all the time! I love you so much! Please read and pray together. And mom and dad- you need to go to the temple more! I'm not trying to like chastise you, I just love you and I want you just to be showered with all those blessings.

Stay awesome family. Have an amazing week!!
Love, Ashlee 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Greetings from Banning, California!!! Now let's talk Book of Mormon.......

Okay let's talk Book of Mormon.

You punks need to be reading that every day!!!!! So I'm starting my weekly email with a challenge- Read at least two verses every night before family prayer and discuss it! Reading the Book of Mormon everyday has seriously blessed me so much. I feel so much more at peace. And believe it or not it's actually way cool. Taylor- you need to read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes every day. I never realized this (I'm so daft) but it's all about missionary work. Ammon is basically the coolest human that ever lived. But I seriously think reading it and reading it and reading it again will prepare you to be a great missionary.

Also, I would like to start a small segment called "I never thought I would (verb) on my mission." Guess what is in Cabazon, California. A dinosaur park. Guess what dinosaurs are in that park? The two giant ones from Peewee's big adventure that Peewee and ohhhh...what's her name... the girl that wants to go to Paris. And then her boyfriend tries to kill Peewee. Yup. So this week, I never thought I would see the dinosaurs from Peewee's Big Adventure on my mission.

We did some awesome service this week! So every Friday we volunteer at the Table of Plenty. We help prepare meals for homeless people. It's really awesome and the people that work there are really cool! We always have religious discussions with them. After that we go to the fire museum. I think I have sent a picture of it before. I need to get a picture with all the retired firemen that work there because they are awesome! It's all these old guys- Bob, Doug, all their names are like one syllable hahaha. Every other Saturday we go to the Wagon Museum. You should look it up, Dad. It's a historic site and it's way cool! Its called the Gilman Ranch and it's in Banning. They have a lot of field trips and we help prep for them. This week we made rag dolls. I'll send pictures! I sent you a post card today :)

We went with the Elders in our zone to make rag dolls at the wagon museum- yay for service!

We have been trying to get two of our investigators to church for three weeks. They still haven't gone. It's so frustrating because we know how prepared they are. Every time we meet with them, they pray the most sincere prayers I have ever heard. They know it's true. On Friday we took them on a tour of the church and talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I talked to her about baptism. When I was explaining it, the spirit was so strong it was amazing! We didn't commit her to baptism though :( Satan is seriously working soooo hard against them. Please pray for them!

The miraculous investigator that appeared at District meeting is moving out of our mission it turns out. But it's okay because we passed her onto the Elder's that live in her area. Even though we don't get to teach her towards baptism, we still got to teach her a little bit. And I still think it's amazing that I prayed for a miracle and she just showed up to district meeting.

Our little nine year old investigator is doing good! She is so awesome. She definitely has a testimony of Jesus Christ. Even though she is 9 she still says things that amaze me. "From the mouth of babes"- am I right? We found out later in the week that her dad woke up extra early to go to Wal-Mart so he could buy a white shirt for church. How cute is that? They weren't able to make it to church this week because they got stuck at their grandmas. Pray for them too please!

Well the people here in Banning are awesome. In our mission, we don't tract, so we have to work really closely with the members. I absolutely love the Banning ward. They are taking such good care of me, Mom. There are so many members that are missionary minded- it's fantastic! We get a lot of referrals from members. We are super busy because our area is so big so there's that. But we are still trying to find more people to teach and struggling a little bit. We work A TON with less actives. If all of the less actives in our ward came to church, our ward would split twice.  Anyway, if you could pray that we can find some prepared souls to teach that would be awesome!

Thanks so much for all of your prayers. I can really feel them. I am honestly really happy right now. I'm still adjusting to missionary life. I'm trying hard and working hard. I miss regular life a lot sometimes. But somehow I'm still super happy. It's kind of weird.

Don't forget to read the Book of Mormon everyday! I'm serious about that and I will be following up!


Some cool shots of Cabazon, aka the middle of nowhere.

This is the Banning Bench. It's soooo beautiful. Look how nice the houses are!

Sister Magleby decorated my desk for my montheversary.

The life of a missionary!!!