Monday, November 18, 2013

Love ya'll more than words can express

Dear Mom, (and of course the rest of the family)

So this week's miracle story actually comes from the Philippians. The couple that we live with, the Hunts, had served a mission in the Philippians before serving here in Tennessee. They are always telling us stories and how much they love the people there. 
One morning, Sister Hunt asked us to have a special prayer in our hearts for the Philippine people because they had just gone under a huge hurricane that was bigger than hurricane katrina. (I'm sure ya'll may have heard about the hurricane) Their hearts were aching for the people. They told us that only 20 of the 21 missions had been heard from. And their only source of contact was by phone, which were obviously out of service. We began praying.
Then on Tuesday, we had a mission zone conference. Before it began, President Irion got up to update us on the Philippians. Monday night, all of the missionaries from the 20 missions were safe. However the mission president from the 21st mission had contacted all of his missionaries except for one companionship. In this companionship, there was an elder who was scheduled to return home to Utah in just 4 days. President Irion became emotional as he talked about putting himself in that mission president's shoes, wondering where his two missionaries were.  He set out and walked for 3 days to the city where the missionaries were assigned to serve. then President gratefully explained that as of this morning (the morning of our zone conference) the companionship was found and they were safe. 
This story touched all of us as we really began to feel the spirit testifying to us that the Lord truly takes care of his missionaries. There was not one missionary lost in that hurricane. What a marvelous work we are a part of!

I am so grateful for this wonderful journey I have been on as I have served the Lord in his field of Tennessee. This week has been up and down as it randomly hits me that the mission is coming to a close. It's crazy because this is the life I've become accustomed to: dedicating all my time to the Lord. However, I know for a fact that the Lord is aware of our circumstances and our life. He knows where we need to be and when we need to be there. He needs me here for a few more days and then my call will be returning home to good ol' Rexburg. Returning to all of you, my family, as a newly refined representative of Christ, with a new determination to serve Him to the end. 
I love all of you incrediously. (I hope I used that word correctly..)
I look forward to seeing ya'll soon! 
Know that I love ya'll and know that I KNOW this Gospel is TRUE. It is the best news that we have been called to share and I am happy to do it. I will forever be grateful that Heavenly Father never gave up on me as I kept rejecting the idea of serving a mission as I was going throughout highschool and into college. He lovingly kept encouraging me until the time was right. This has been the best time of my life, for my life and for the life of others. I'm excited to share who i've become with ya'll. I love this Gospel and I love the Lord.

love always,
your daughter,
Sister Valerie Preston


Hey family!

This week has been really good. i can't really remember what happened...but it was good! ha. missionary brain at it's finest. i can't remember anything anymore ha. 

alright, so we had the primary program on Sunday! It was very spiritual. Those little kids are so sweet and have the light of Christ radiating from them. They had a theme going on that I thought was powerful. If you've been on (if you haven't yet, you should!) there are people all over the world talking about things they do and then their belief as a mormon. So at the end they'll say something such as, "I'm a mother, a writer, I love my family, and I'm a mormon." well, the kids in the primary program incorporated that into their program and they'd say something such as, "my name is Natalie, I'm a good story teller. But most important, i am a child of God." 
Every time a child would get up and say something like that, the spirit hit the room. I loved it. 
Also, Sister Truax had injured her back and wasn't able to come to church but brother truax still came by himself. It's great to see the depth of their conversion and how much it continues to grow. They'll still come no matter what because they know it's true and it has changed their life. Brother Truax is preparing to receive the priesthood. It's very exciting. 

Austin and his family had a bit of a crisis this week and have been searching for a home. It is so sad to think of the way of life some people have to live; not knowing one day if you'll have a roof over your head the next night. It makes me realize how much I took the necessities of life for granted all of the time. I am so grateful to even have a home to live in. It truly is a blessing. But they found a home and so we'll be continuing to teach him this next week!

So here's an entertaining story for a look into our every day life. My companions and I were headed to a frozen yogurt shop. As we were walking through the parking lot, we were keeping our eye open for opportunities to talk with people. I spotted an older man taking his groceries to his car. We decided to take the opportunity and talk to him. 
As we approached him, we happily asked him if we could help him. He looked at us with a somewhat shocked expression and then asked, "What are you, the Goodwill people?" (Goodwill is comparable to the D.I. and the people who work there are usually doing volunteer service because they have to or they can't find work elsewhere..) so it was pretty funny. We then introduced ourselves and he was still kind to us and accepted a card for our website. Ha, i just love being a missionary. It's so entertaining.

Well, the missionary life is still going great. I really just want to milk this week for what it's worth. I want to continue doing all that the Lord asks of me and to continue being anxiously engaged in this work. 

Love ya'll so much!! 

Love your missionary,
Sister Valerie Preston

also, this picture is of my last district here in the mission. It's crazy. love them all so much


Hey Family!

This week has once again been full of blessings. The Lord has been keeping us so busy and I am so grateful or it.

Great news! Charles Truax was baptized! It was such a great day! it was wonderful to see the excitement on his wife's face. I'm not sure who was happier at that moment. They both were beaming. When brother Truax was confirmed on Sunday, the blessing was incredible. It talked about him going hand in hand to the temple with his wife! The great thing is, he has already been talking about it to his wife, so the Lord knows his heart :)
The day he was getting baptized, we were walking down the church hall and there is a picture of the Nashville temple there. I stopped him and pointed out the temple. We haven't been able to teach them much about it yet, but we told them the temple is where the family unit can be eternal. So I showed him the picture, telling him it was the temple. he said, "i was talking to my wife about that. Is there one here in this building?" So i briefly explained to him the sacredness of a temple and the difference between a church building and a temple. He nodded with a satisfied look. His spirit desires it.
So they are doing great!
Austin is also doing wonderfully. We actually moved up his baptismal date for this next Saturday. We felt that his testimony has been growing and that he is ready for baptism. We asked him if he would be ready to be baptized on the 9th of November and he just responded, "I'm ready when ya'll are!" He's been ready since day one really. It's exciting to see the excitement in his eyes. 

Also, sister Benge, sister Weirich, and I were able to do a musical number for the closing song in sacrament meeting. we sang our own arrangement of "All Creatures of our God and King" and then a member reorganized a piano arrangement last minute to accompany for us. It was beautiful. I was glad that we were able to share the spirit with everyone through music. I was also glad that I was able to do that musical number with my companions. Especially for my last fast Sunday here. It was great. 

Well family, i just love ya'll so much!! I will continue to give the Lord my all for the last few weeks i have here. 

Love ya'll!

the little sister in the south
Sister Valerie Preston

This week was absolutely great!!

Mayetta was baptized on saturday and she has just been on fire. She's really being a great support for her husband as he works towards baptism for this next saturday! We are so excited for him. We called him up on saturday and explained to him that if he wanted to get baptized this next Saturday, he had to throw out all his beer. He simply said, "That shouldn't be a problem."
Then when we were all at the baptism, he was just beaming as his wife entered the waters. One of our members was talking with him afterwards and said, "you know, this works best in twos." Brother truax was just smiling and agreeing with him and our member was getting all excited as brother truax agreed. Then brother truax told him, "Ya, I'm getting baptized next saturday." :D he was telling everyone that he was getting baptized. It was exciting. Also, there were so many members there to support Mayetta. They are going to be such a strong unit for this ward and for the church. They can work on going to the Temple together! SO excited. 

Our other investigator, Austin, is still doing great. We found that when we use a lot of analogies and relations to football and cars as we teach him the Gospel, it clicks better. So that's been fun as we have been creative with our teaching style. I found that i know noting about football and he thought it was pretty hilarious. But the message still was put across and he understands :) 

Wow. I'm glad that ya'll have an Indian Summer this time around. That's great! We got a cold spell here and everyone started getting sick all over knoxville. But the weather is still great and fall is still coming! it's very subtle and beautiful. 

Are ya'll having any missionary opportunities in Rexburg? There is always missionary work to do, no matter how many Mormons live in one community haha. Even just visiting members who seem to be strong in the ward is a form of missionary work. It's so great. I am so glad that there are so many different aspects to the Lord's work because then it truly means that no one is exempt from it and that we all have something to give, no matter how small it may be. It's still important.

So I just love the Book of Mormon. As I was studying one day, I began laughing out loud during my personal studies; then my companions joined in. (It could have also been so funny because we were sooo tired) Either way, this passage was great. If you're looking for a laugh, go read Alma 27: 16-20. This is when Ammon meets up with alma after a long time of being away from each other. Ammon gets so excited...that he passes out. then the scriptures ask us, "Was this not exceeding joy?" ha yes it was!! So then i imagined my companions and I meeting up again in the future, and after talking with them, we decided that it would probably be sister benge that would pass out from excitement. They were all excited to see each other, but Ammon was the only one who lost his strength because of it. Pure joy right there. It was fun to read.

Well, I don't have much else to say, but I hope that everything goes well for ya'll this week!!!! 

Remember, stay safe, happy, and healthy!!!!
love ya'll!

Love, Sister Valerie Preston

Sunday, October 27, 2013

HEY!! this week!

I want to say Thank you for praying for our investigators by name. Ever since General Conference, we have been asking members to do that and we have felt the difference and seen the difference as people have prayed for specifics. Our investigators are truly progressing and we 5 investigators at church! That doesn't usually happen very often. hopefully it will keep happening in the future. The elders in our ward also had investigators for a total of 8 between all of us. So THAT was great because every companionship had people there. 

This weekend Mayetta is getting baptized! and another person, Jirah, is getting baptized. He has been taking the lessons from the Elders. So it will be  a double baptism. We are so excited. Mayetta has been improving so nicely and I'm sure that her husband will follow shortly after; especially as he sees her get baptized. It was so great when we followed up after teaching her the word of wisdom. She likes to drink coffee. We had invited her to throw it away and she hesitated and then said she would. After we taught her of the blessings of this gospel we prayed with her. Right after the prayer, she hopped up and said, "I'll be right back." She walked into the kitchen, came back out with the coffee in her hand, put on her shoes, looked at us with a smile and said, "It's not worth it." Then she proceeded to walk outside. We quickly followed as she walked over to the garbage can and simply tossed it. With a big smile on my face, I hugged her and said, "Mayetta! You tossed it like it was trash!" She smiled and responded, "It is trash!" :D It was incredible to see the spirit work with her on that. On sunday, she also received a blessing to stay strong and prepare herself for the baptism. 
The work is hastening on!

Also, last week we met a new investigator named Austin. I don't know if I told you about him. He's 14 and we met him through a less active. And he is pretty much a 2013 Joseph Smith. The first time we talked with him, he began asking us all the questions that Joseph Smith asked when he was searching for the truth. We came back and taught him the restoration. Afterwards, Austin thinks about it and then asks us, "Did I remind you of Joseph smith?"  We told him yes and he smiled. then our less active piped in and said, "Ever since ya'll left the first time, we were both talking about baptism!" haha what? our less active continues to talk, "BAPTISm baptism baptism!" That was so unexpected coming from our less active. So then....we committed him for baptism. Now he's progressing and has come to mutual and he came to church and he loved it! He felt the spirit and couldn't stop smiling. It was so great! 
Once again, The work is hastening on! 

Last thing: We had a meeting with Elder Corbridge of the 70 yesterday. It was an all day meeting. Before the meeting began, Elder Corbridge took some time to interview a few missionaries of President's choosing. So he picked a few and he gave me the opportunity to be interviewed! It was an uplifting experience as we talked and he was able to teach me one on one. I was appreciative to be able to have that opportunity. 

It's getting really chilly here now. fall is here! 
Well family, I don't know what else to tell ya. This week has just been a great one! and I still just love my companions. I couldn't ask for any better. They are such hard workers and they truly have fun. We laugh a lot :)

I love ya'll so much! Thank you for all that you do. You mean the world to me. i love you!

your little missionary
Sister Valerie Preston

hey hey hey!!!
That's crazy that fall is ending over there. It's just beginning over here. The leaves are just barely turning cIolors. We're so excited for it to really look like autumn soon! I love fall.
We are still teaching the boys from Haiti. ha yes, they have the jamaican/british accent. They are a lot of fun. THey are moving at a slower progression  pace, but one of them came to mutual and seemed to really enjoy it. He had waffles for the first time and carved a pumpkin for the first time. It was fun!
Mayetta and Charles are doing so good! They are seriously SO prepared. Mayetta is very excited for her baptism and Charles is praying about getting baptized with her. They both came to church yesterday and they really enjoyed it. After the sacrament was passed, I could hear her telling her husband how much she liked that. She also contributed a lot to the relief society lesson. My companions and I were teaching the lesson on missionary work and afterwards, she told her husband that she would like to do a mission one day. :) I feel so humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of this. They are definitely prepared and searching and starving for the truth. The spirit is teaching them so much. We are so excited for them!
On Saturday we had our sister's conference call. This is a call that all of the sisters throughout the mission get on to talk about changes in the mission since transfers and rules and trainings , stuff like that. Usually the departing sisters (those who are on their last transfer) give their testimonies on this call. We thought they weren't doing that anymore. However, near the end of the call, SIster Irion asked my MTC companions and I to give our testimonies. THat's when it hit me like a brick that this truly is my last transfer. It's really crazy.
I was telling another missionary the other day that I am excited to see family and really have the opportunity to apply what I have learned out here in life back at home. However, it does scare me to go back to reality where I really have to grow up and go back to school and everything. But when a missionary returns home; that is when they are truly tested in my opinion. We spend 18-24 months our here in the refiner's fire, strengthening our testimonies as we bring others to the knowledge of this truth. Then we return home, with our new conversion and our new perspective on life. The test is this; did our "nature" change or just our "behavior" while we were on our missions?
When we return home, do we go back to our old lives, or do we take on a new challenge and apply who we have become so our missions can continue to change us throughout our lives. so the Gospel can continue to change us throughout our lives. I feel that the gospel has planted itself deep within me. I know that the world will really hit us hard when we return home, but with our armor of god and who we've become, we return home as disciples of Christ. representing His name wherever we go. It will be a new adventure I'm sure.
But for now, I will continue working my very best, through the last day that I am here. I love this Gospel and I will forever be grateful for this great opportunity that I have been given to serve. Thank YOU for supporting me. I have literally had times where I have felt the prayers that have been given on behalf of the missionaries everywhere. It's incredible.
I love ya'll soooo much. Keep the faith and I'll talk to you next week. Love you and stay safe, happy, and healthy.
love always,
Sister Preston  
We had dinner at a member's home. It was Sadie's birthday (the little girl in the picture) She wanted the "princess missionaries" to come for her birthday. So we gladly came. Her birthday dinner consisted of grilled cheese, raspberries, and cheetos. love it, ha. Oh and don't forget the REALLY blue mermaid cake for dessert. Ha i love kids
Hey family!!!
Good to hear from you, as always :)
General Conference was soooo good! I always get so excited; like a child at christmas time. And then it goes by super fast, just like christmas. The Saturday session was amazing! I really like ...well...all of the talks ha. But they talked about missionary work, christ-like attributes, the plan of salvation, commandments, everything! so good. I really liked when Elder Bednar was speaking about blessings from tithing, but i feel that it also aplies to keeping any commandment when he said that "subtle blessings will naturally flow through the windows of heaven as we keep the commandments of God." I also loved when they referred to Christ as the Great Physician. I feel like that title is not mentioned as much and I feel like it is one of the great titles. We are all imperfect and need saving and healing from the great touch His hands.
Our investigator, Mayetta and her husband, Charles came to watch General Conference! It was a surprise that her husband agreed to come! We have been teaching Mayetta and she called us and said she didn't need a ride to church because her husband was going to come with her. YES! So they oth came and they really enjoyed it. Elder Oaks was laying down the law for chastity and we could hear Mayetta quietly agreeing with everything he said. Her husband really enjoyed when the prophet spoke about his wife. These two people are pre-mormon, :). They are going to get there. THey are so humble and willing to learn. It is so exciting! I pray that they will continue to have that fire and desire for this gospel.

We are still teaching the boys from Haiti. They were unable to come to general conference, but they said they would watch it online. We still need to follow up on that today. They seem to still be doing good though! 

Transfers are here yet again. It goes by soo fast! My companionship is staying the same though. yay! So I'll be in knoxville still with sister weirich and sister benge. and with the hunts upstairs :) its so fun, I love it.

Oh, also this past week we had MLC (mission leadership council). All of the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders attend that meeting to prepare for the next month. We are preparing to study chapter 6 of preach my gospel this month, which is centered on Christ-like attributes. I'm so excited. I love that chapter. 
One of the Elders, Elder Mills and I were assigned to give a training on diligence through planning in this meeting and then again at our zone conference. Everything we do in missionary work is centered on effective planning, but even going further than that, our lives need to be well planned. So we studied from the scriptures and preach my gospel and listened to some talks and Elder Mills pointed out something that was great. Preach My gospel shows us a formula for effective planning and we find it in the scriptures and it was in a talk we listened to. The reason i'm telling you this is because we applied this training to planning for investigators as well as planning for our personal lives. we need 4 things:
vision: What do we want to do or become and why?
goals: what are we going to do to achieve this vision? (a vision or goal not written will remain a wish)
planning: what are the specific details of things we need to do THIS week to come closer to the vision (specific dates, times, locations)
accountability: this is the GO and DO. put the plans into your hands and feet and ACT. pray to the Lord for help
The zone leaders helped in their training to transform this formula from our investigators and put it on the missionary. We, as children of God, need to find His vision for us. What is our full potential and what are we doing to get there? God LOVES us so much, it's hard to comprehend. And it really hit me; when we were putting so much time into our investigators over the length of our mission, that the Lord is putting in so much time and effort in US to help us in our conversion and development to become the sons and daughters that he knows we are meant and designed to be. 
It's a wonderful work that we have all been called to be  apart of. We all have unique styles and skills and talents that Heavenly Father needs, to reach out to those around us. It's the best thing we can be a part of for life!
love ya'll so much. Have a great week!!!
love the sister in the south,

Sister Valerie Preston