Monday, July 29, 2013

Sister Florida

Hey Family!
Sooooo. Opening an area isn't the funnest thing in the world. Last Wednesday was Transferes and a member from 2nd Ward drove us (sisters from 2nd ward and 3rd ward) to Jacksonville. It was a really fun car ride! But I was already missing my area and everyone there already. I don't think I've ever been so sad about losing a companion. Sister Atkinson was the best! I know she's going to do awesome, but I'm gonna miss her guts. I'll see her on P-days and Zone Conferences, but it wont be the same. I think she has been the companion I've been the most sad about leaving.
Sister Shelley is my new trainee! She's really shy and quiet, but she's really nice. She's 19 and from Fairview, Utah. She went to Snow for a year before coming out, and she played Sax (berri and soprano) in High School. We got to know each other a little bit, and they shipped us off to the mission office, where they gave us our new car and a few nick nacks for it. We started driving to the address in Gainesville they gave us, but rush hour in Jacksonville isn't very good. We didn't get to the appartment until around 8, so we just put our stuff inside and ate dinner (the bread that the RS President put in the fridge) and went to bed. We now live at:
3461 SW 2nd Ave Apt 146
Gainesville, FL 32607
The complex is called 'Hawaiian Village' (I think it's funny they have Hawaiian themed stuff in Florida). Our appartment is actually quite large. It has two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a living room and a family room. We have two beds, two dressers, a table, and folding chairs from the church. The front room is empty and one of the bedrooms is empty. It's weird to walk around a place that's half empty. It's nice having your own bathroom though! There's a river right behind our house. Yesterday we were doing studies and a man suddenly came in our 'backyard' (it's a shared backyard that ends in the river). He was fishing. He caught a fish in two seconds, threw it back in, then walked up the river some more. It was really odd.

Starting a new area is interesting. It's a good thing Elder Saynez is on top of things. He gave us a map with the Ward Boundaries, a marked up roster and had a couple of appointments set up for us. He couldn't make us a mapbook though, because they are Spanish Elders and don't have to stay in Ward Boundaries - so they have different boundaries that we do. So we've started the long process of making a new mapbook. We've already made a bunch of sub-areas and gotten lists of unbaptized children and part-member families. There are a lot of unrecorded part member families. Just from notes the Elders made on the roster, I added to the part-member family list last night and in addition to the four that were already on the printed list the clerk gave us. I think I added about 15-25 or something. I think I'm going to type up an actual list to give to the Elders and Bishop. There's a lot of these kinds of famlies in this Ward. We also can't use the majority of the Elder's Potential Records because of that same reason. They don't have the same boundaries as us, and most the people they talk to speak Spanish. So we're litterally starting from scratch.
You'll be excited to know that we already have a new Gator! Her name is Miss F. She is from Brazil and bairly speaks any English! She doesn't know what we're saying half the time, and we don't know what she's saying. But her friend that she's visiting till December (then she goes back home) is a member and she translates for us. She's really smart (already has an undergrad in Anthropology from Brazil - she works with natives along the Amazon, and now she's working on a Law degree). I didn't understand where she said she was from, just that it is North Eastern Brazil. Rio? She kept forgetting the word for prayer so maybe I learned a new word in Portugese! Accra! (If that's not it please say so Dad). She really liked reading about the First Vision in her friend's Portugese Joseph Smith History. She really identified with verse 19 because she grew up in the Catholic tradition, but didn't agree with it once she got older and started looking at things.
So other that that, we're just trying to get to know people. We've been iNetting a lot - visiting and knocking around less actives, because there's nothing else for us to do. After our first District Meeting we had a service project with this really sweet lady, and that night we went to the Releif Society Activity (lots of chocolate and get to know you games). There was this old lady from Cuba who doesn't speak much English, but that's one of her goals (she's trying so hard!) and she basically talked to us in Spanish the whole time. Every now and then someone would translate, but she seemed very happy that we were there. I've been told that she also lives in our appartment complex and that she loves to give us cake. But we'll be trying to set up a lot of service and getting to know the members. They are totally eliminating tracting soon. That book that you sent me "The Power of the Everyday Missionary" is actually for members. We'll be teaching out of it to them to help them become missionaries and find us people to teach. Ya'll should read it! I just got done with the second chapter and it's amazing!!

This last Saturday they had a really cool Youth Conference. We missionaries got to go because it was missionary themed. For a couple hours on Saturday, they paired us up with a group of kids, we trained them in a 'District Meeting' about how to do door approaches and street contacting, and then we went and knocked on doors and did street conacting with them for a couple of hours. They did really well! A lot of them got doors slammed in their faces, but it was surprising about how it helped them with their testimony when they talked about it in testimony meeting afterwards. Several people gave out Book of Mormons and a couple of people actually got appoinments for missionaries in that area! I don't know if this would work in Utah, but it was really successful.
Anyway. I still have to write President. Y'all write me letters at my new address!
~Later from Sista Gator

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sister Gator

Dear Family,
I'm sorry to hear about Brother Eldredge. Makes me sad. Give Sister Eldredge my condolences and love. I still remember her being my kindergarden teacher.
Transfers are tomorrow, and I'm being transferred! Ahhhh! Last week was the 'trainers training meeting' conducted by the AP's on Thursday. Sister Atkinson and Sister Toledo from 3rd Ward went to go have lunch and to tract while her companion and I were in the meeting since we're training this next transfer. The Assistants come up to me right before the meeting starts and ask where Sister Atkinson was, and I told them. They asked if President had called Sister Atkinson, and I said no. Well, Sister Atkinson is training as well! They just forgot to call her! So I am Opening an area for Sisters and training a new missionary at the same time. :p I'll be going right next door to the Gainesville 1st Ward!! It's the half Spanish half English Ward and has a the Spanish Elders in Gainesville. Fun! I hope I'll be able to see Sister Atkinson on P-days and everything. So if you sent any mail to me in the last few days, it shouldn't be long until it gets to me :) We get a brand new car - probably one of the 2013 Toyota Corollas or Ford Fusions. Our new apartment is also right next door to the Sister Training Leaders in the YSA ward. We're gonna have a great time!
A lot of unexpected things happened this week. President Craig recanted the work out video. Sad day. The one week we did have it, I've never had such a great work out in my life! But I can understand why. He owns a gym and he's really into fitness, but I can see some missionaries going wild with that. Oh well. Sorry I jumped the gun Mom. I just got really excited about it. But I got the book that he wants us to read today!!! It looks really good. I would encourage everyone at home to read it. It's even got extra large margins for you to write notes in. President Craig is hoping to get rid of tracting entirely since its becoming so ineffective. Home Associations put 'No Soliciting' signs everywhere. I hate those signs. People think they're convenient, but they are really the adversary diminishing missionary work in richer neighborhoods. Those poor rich people.
We helped Miss L clean her room. Ever since she broke her leg things went down hill cleanliness wise. But she also admitted to having hoarder tendancies before 'finding Jesus'. Trying to fill up a hole she didn't know was there with stuff. I was so proud of her! We tossed so much stuff and she was so much happier after we left! (It took a couple of visits). We also taught her the Plan of Salvation and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with her as well. She has fibro myalga and has a lot of pain and uses that as an excuse to not come to church or anything and it's kind of frustrating. After watching Prophet of the Restoration we had her commit to pray about it. That night she did and she told us that she was reading in the scriptures and it answered the question that she had about elisha. But she wouldn't admit that it was an answer to her prayer.
Another unexpected thing. Miss P was evicted. Florida law states that you can't evict a tenant if they have no place to go if they petition - so they can have 30 days to find a new place. Well, Miss P put in the petition last weekend, but because it was over the weekend, no one looked at it since no one works over the weekend and it wasn't recognized. Thursday the police came over and served her a eviction notice that if she wasn't out in 24 hours she'd go to jail or something. She called us up and called in a few favors to get a moving truck. All the missionaries showed up and members of the Ward and two of her friends who are helping her out. We got all of her stuff into the moving truck and into a storage locker in Cheifland. It rained pretty much all day on Saturday so that was nice to keep us cool, but not nice for Pam's stuff since a lot of it got a little damp. Elder Gao was an amazing Chinese acrobat climbing all over furniture and shoving boxes on top of each other to the ceiling of the moving truck and the storage locker we had to put it all in. She's homeless until August 1st when she can move into her new place. Ever since then, she's dropped off the face of the earth. Her phone has been disconnected and we don't have an address to look her up at. :(
Miss M gave a great talk on Sunday! I cried. Not really. But it was really good! 
Yesterday and today have been crazy packing and getting ready to go. 
Love, Sister Jen Carlson
P.S.  This is just a personal request.... but no one has a copy of Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration out here...... and you can't order it from HQ... and I was wondering..... if you could send me one..... and one of the Testament too... I feel really bad asking cause I've been asking for a bunch of stuff and have been really needy lately. I don't want to be like that. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Riding the FrontRunner to City Creek Mall

If you get a group pass it only cost $15.00 round trip!


Lunch at the Blue Lemon.

   Time for a nap!

I worked at ZCMI thirty-five years ago in this very building.  Now Macy’s has taken over.

Downtown Salt Lake City

City Creek Mall
I didn’t know this but the creek actually runs through the middle of the mall and it’s a very “cool” place.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sister Florida

Hey Family,

It's been a pretty good week over all. We still haven't really found anyone new to teach, but we've been visiting a lot of less actives and part member families. 

The highlight of our week is going to visit with Miss P. A returning member who came to our church for the first time this last Sunday and sat with us. She's one of the most hilarious people I've ever met. She lives in a temporary home made in 1925 that has no air conditioning and just recently got running water. She's the most positive person I've ever met, yet she's had such a tough life! All of her family has died, and the biggest reason that she stopped going to Church was because the families looked so happy and she didn't have that. We've been focusing a lot on the Plan of Salvation with her a lot. The last time we were over we finally got to the end and then we wanted to talk a little on Temples. She was really hesitant, but once we asked why, we were able to clear up her concern that it's not just for families that are alive (which is what she thought) but that you can perform work for the dead. Once Sister Atkinson mentioned baptisms for the dead, Miss P broke down crying, saying that she wants that for her parents and her siblings who have all died. It was super spiritual! She's one of my favorite people ever. She's got a duck that thinks it's a cat, a horse that thinks it's a dog, and some really not very smart dogs that are so funny to watch. I really hope she continues to take the lessons and make a goal to get to the temple.

Friday we decided to go on a car fast. I don't know if it was the best decision. After Weekly Planning we walked to our dinner appointment. We didn't see anybody. No one is outside in 98 degree weather with 100 percent humidity apparently. You just have to love that Florida sun. Everything is so bright.

Saturday we had a Stake Activity Picnic thing that we got to go to. Maggie went and a person who is technically a gator went too. I love free food! We talked a lot, walked around in the mud a lot, and ate some good food. After the activity we went to Newberry. In Gainesville, they spray a lot for mosquitoes, but they don't do that in Newberry. We were outside the car for three minutes talking to this lady and had to run back to the car. In three minutes, my calves got 20-30 mosquito bites each. After we ran back to the car and sprayed, we didn't have a problem. I've woken up the last two nights scratching. I'm pretty good at resisting the urge during the daytime though. Saturday night, we dropped by a LA/PM home and they let us in right then even though they had family there from out of town! I got to talk to Munro Gaultney from Charlotte, NC who is a Baptist Minister. We talked a lot about Chiasmas in the Bible, and I showed him Alma 36 in the Book of Mormon. He wanted to read it so I gave him a copy! It was a really cool conversation. Every now and then I have the urge to change my major from Biology Education to Religion or something (I won't do that, but maybe I'll get another degree after I graduate or something). Somitic Complexities in the Bible are so fascinating, and finding them in the Book of Mormon is exciting! Sister Atkinson really hit it off with the LA lady. It turns out they are from the exact same place in Washington! Bellingham! It was a really great visit, and they gave us some really delicious cherries before we headed out.

Sunday was full of blessings! Before we headed off to Church, we had a feeling to call Miss P. We did. She was looking for our number on her phone as she was pulled over to the side of the road, because she was lost and couldn't find her way to the Church. Miracle! We got to Church and a High Councilman spoke on tithing and fasting. Both Pam and Maggie loved it. Miracle! That investigator who came to the activity the day before came to Church without us knowing it. Miracle! Relief Society started out really good, but degraded into a conversation about women in the military. A little off topic. Miss P noticed that too, but she still had a good time. Miracle! Miss P ran out of gas on the way home, but Bishop had a red can of it ready in a heartbeat. Miracle! We had the first lesson with Maggie's parents and they are officially Gators. Miracle! Maggie accepted to speak this next Sunday about Baptism in Sacrament meeting and she's already got an outline that's 10 minutes long. Miracle!

Later Gator’s!

~Sister Jen from the Jacksonville, Florida Mission

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Journey to the Gym

It’s been three weeks today since I started participating at the Provo City Rec Center to improve my cardio.  There have been good benefits and some very sore benefits. One of the good ones is that I’m sleeping really well at night!
The first two weeks at the gym I was spending thirty minutes a day on the INTENSE stair master and my personal favorite, the treadmill.  Only this time I cannot run on the treadmill due to my sensitive ankles.  On a good day I can walk up to 3.2 mph.

I had to stop Zumba for a while because I was once again over doing it with a bunch of twenty year olds.  I did notice a few thirty and forty year olds but only once in a while I spotted someone close to my age.  I’ll go back some day when my calves aren’t killing me!

Years ago when I was working in the restaurant business I started to put too much weight on my bones so I went to a Health Wellness Resort in St. George for three weeks. It was kind of like a Biggest Loser Resort only not a competitive environment. There was a great chef that cooked all our meals and the women that bought reservations were from all over the western part of the United States. Back then I only needed to take off about thirty pounds, so I really enjoyed the long hikes up the Red Rock Canyons listening to Whitney Houston on my miniature tape cassette.  After three weeks I succeeded in taking off half the weight and finished the rest when I got home.  It was just nice to get away and relax and have somebody else cooking great, healthy, tasty meals.  The resort followed at that time the popular “Lower Your Fat Thermostat” book.

One thing I learned from the St. George gym experience is that swimming and bicycling were one of the exercises that seemed to be easy on my legs and muscles. The Provo Rec Center has some really nice bikes that work smooth and gradually give me a great workout!  That’s where my journey has taken me at this time.  I still lift weights Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  For six days out of the week I do the twenty-five minutes on the treadmill, then I go over to one of the awesome bikes and do a good twenty minutes at a level eleven. Sunday’s are my rest day and I feel totally satisfied and ready to race the Tour de France on Monday.

Maybe someday I can purchase my own Life Fitness Stationary Bike and not have to drive every day to the gym. I looked up the cost on line and the one I have in mind only starts at $2,500. (gulp) Meanwhile I’m just grateful for a body that works pretty good. This Saturday Sam’s Club is doing free health screenings again so I’ll be able to see if my cholesterol has gone down.  Until next time, keep moving!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sister Florida

Hello Family!!!

So much has happened this week yet it went by so fast! Oh, and thanks to Jenny G, and Hanna Ockey! I got your letters this past week :)

It's been kind of a slow week gator wise. Everyone is out of town or had family over because of the 4th of July. 

Funny story to start out with. I usually don't have any trouble studying from 8-9 during Personal Study. I don't get sleepy or anything. This past week it's been harder for me for some reason. One morning this week I did a fine job staying awake during PS, but then I knelt down to pray. I was using my chair to rest my arms and head against, and somewhere during the prayer I dozed off for a couple of minutes. I thought I had just rested for maybe 2-3 minutes, but when I jerk awake and look up at the clock, 30 minutes had passed by! Sister Atkinson had thought I was having a really spiritual prayer. She thought it was hilarious. It was actually my face that was against the chair so when I actually moved, basically my whole face was red. Like Sokka when he traveled with the hippies to Omashu. My face really ached during that companion study!

The 4th of July wasn't all that great. We heard a lot of fireworks, but didn't see any. The trees are too tall even if someone did have rockets to see. Basically no one wanted to see us. We didn't have any appointments and it seemed no one was home, or would answer the door. The Sisters from 3rd Ward (Sister Toledo and her trainee Sister Jensen) came over for lunch. We made cupcakes and wore mustaches that we found at the dollar store for fun! It was a good time :)

Friday was AMAZING!! We got to meet President Craig! The first thing I noticed when he walked in was how different he looked from President Barry. In height. President Barry is Six foot Eight or something and President Craig is just taller than me. Both he and his wife went to Viewmont High School, (your high school mom) and were raised in Bountiful! But they are just a few years younger than you. Their full names are Pres. Paul Craig and Nadine Call Craig and they are definitely on fire!

President Craig said that a lot of the U.S. missions are getting iPads and Smart Phones for maybe 50 missions by the end of the year. I don't know if our mission is a part of that... he wasn't too specific. He did talk a lot about how ineffective tracting is. He went on a mission to Belgium and had no baptisms his whole mission, tracting 8-10 hours every day. He only got one referral his whole mission! I don't know if he's going to change anything about Facebook either. Sister Atkinson's sister is in the New Jersey mission and they're ALL using Facebook now. Maybe Pres. Craig will have all of us use it, or maybe he'll just keep it with a few. It'd be nice. Most of our investigators are the busiest people in the world and it gets old when people don't/can't answer your calls. At least on Facebook you can see if they've even looked at your message. 

Saturday 3rd Ward Sisters had a baptism! His name is H the III and he was so excited. The Sisters tell us that he takes detailed notes each of their visits. Three days before his baptism he stopped watching regular TV and only watched General Conference. Sister Atkinson and I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Everyone love them. It was definitely different from M's baptism, but even though it was really short, I really felt the Spirit when the Bishop gave his testimony and their brand new Ward Mission Leader. 

We also referred on Friday night a former gator who was taught last year to Elder Gao, because she's Chinese, and he's from China! We had visited her once before and she didn't seem too interested. Apparently when he knocked on the door, she was so excited! She wants to be baptized now. Elder Gao has permission to go anywhere in Gainesville to talk to anyone who is Asian. He wants to get enough people to start an Asian branch.

So other than the drag over the holidays, it's been a really fun week! After going to Zone Meeting last Friday Sister Atkinson and I are pumped! We are going to find a bunch of people and baptize!!! And go golfing with Maggie today :)

Anyway, thanks for the letters and the prayers! Love ya!
~Sister Carlson
   PS      I forgot to mention! M was confirmed this past Sunday! It was amazing! She takes tennis really seriously and Saturday they were rained out for a Championship competition. She had to make the decision to pull out of the competition - it was even doubles! But she felt the Spirit so strongly when she was confirmed!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

4th of July Memoir from Marci

Last Saturday while I was waiting for the Provo Children’s Parade to begin, a flood of memories started to come back.  We have been participating in the 4th of July parades for the last twenty-two years.  It all started when we bought our first home three houses north from center street in Provo.  I took Jake to the Children’s Parade at the age of one on the back of my bike while one month old Jenny slept at home with GW.  Here is our first home we purchased May 1992.

As I was walking by after the parade the new owners were having a garage sale.  I remember when GW put the new roof on the house when it only used to be 800 square feet.  We bought the home for $50.000 and sold it eight years later to the city for $98.000. That’s when I became a believer in investing in real estate. Provo City added more rooms to the back of the house and built two even windows in the front with shutters.

I miss the big sycamore trees because when it came time to watch the parades we were always cool.  After the Children’s parade the big 4th of July parade follows a few days later.  One time we put six week old Jenny in a stroller and walked to center street about a half hour before the parade started and picked a patch of grass to sit on.  There were no people sleeping over night to save places for their extended families. The parade even started from 900 East and went west on Center Street. I never would have imagined that all our kids would later on want to participate with the Provo High Band in all the summer parades around Utah County.

Jen, Jake and Alec Vanhule

Jessie’s first parade 2011

Two years of Color Guard.

  Last Thursday was Jessie’s last parade and next year Julz wants to play the clarinet. Provo High includes soon to be 8th graders from Dixon Middle School so once again, we start all over.

Provo Children’s Parade 2013

Jess and percussion.

Provo City 4th of July Parade

Six months after Jessie was born we moved to West Provo and rented our property until GW’s job, Geneva Steel closed down.  I will always cherish the memories of our little white house with the big shady trees. The 4th of July has a tender spot in my heart and probably will for years to come.  

Monday, July 1, 2013


Dear Family!!!!

I got all ya'll's mail! One from Jessie and two from Dad! Thanks a bunch! I have enjoyed them thoroughly! That email about Mo being eaten by a dog was not encouraging. Everyone and their dog has a dog down here. Pets are really big. Both in size and in popularity.

There has been a lot of weather. One second you're driving along and its hot and really bright, the next second you can't see two feet in front of your car because there's so much rain, and you're car is shaking from all the thunder. Sister Atkinson loves it. She says it reminds her of home. She wants to go golfing out in it. I love her guts! It's kind of scary to drive in though. We have to pull over every now and then to wait it off. We can't even make calls during that time cause the rain is so loud no one can hear us. But we never have to wait that long. In 5-10 minutes, it will be bright and hot out once again. The only difference is that there's steam coming up from the ground cause it's so hot that the water evaporates right then. It looks kind of cool. I thought it looked like mist the first time I saw it.

Funny thing that happened last p-day. Sister Atkinson and the other new Sister hadn't been to Alice Lake yet to see the Gators, so we went there after lunch. We got a picture with this really nice Gator I'm sending you, but as Sister Toledo went to go sit down on a bench to wait for the other two, we hear this hissing sound. There's a Gator underneath the bench! Needless to say, we got out of there. There may have been screaming involved. It was just a baby Gator though. They don't have big ones in Alice Lake.

President Barry is gone! Last Friday we had a conference call with them and he kept alluding to the fact that our mission has been contacted and that we're piloting something. Something big or something... but it's driving me crazy! Apparently we'll get to find out what it is this upcoming Friday when we meet President Craig at a mini Zone Conference. Maybe we'll get iPads! One of the New York missions is piloting that and a SLC mission is too. That'd be nice.

Miracle! M got baptized! I still remember knocking on the door she was babysitting at with Sister Crowton my first transfer here! She's really changed a lot! She goes above and beyond! Just in conversations with her she, on her own, will bring up the fact that she took out all her earrings except one pair, and that she went through all her clothes and only kept the modest ones. She blows me away! 

Her whole family went to her baptism, and M even brought along two friends, who want to come with her to Church and to Young Womens! People tell me that it was a really good baptism and they really felt the Spirit. I felt it too, when I wasn't scared out of my mind because I was giving a talk. And when I got over that feeling in the pit of my stomach that we forgot towels. But that hiccup and the fact that the water was freezing cold (the Elders filled the font up) just made M more excited to relate the experience of what she felt to someone. You could tell that her parents were really proud of her, even if they didn't quite understand why she had to be baptized again. During the waiting period, Elder Greenlaw and Elder Welsh taught the Restoration. They did a really good job. Sister Okes (who was baptized just two years ago and is the Personal Progress tracker in young womens) gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. She had been really worried about the talk, but she also did such a fantastic job! My goodness! Afterwards, her family had a really good time talking with all the ward members who were there (there were a lot). I got to know M's dad a little bit more (he's an engineer and currently working on some stuff for the Transition Lens company). M's mom had a great time as well. The Young Women took care of all the refreshments. They did a really good job. Ice cream in punch, tons of fruit on shish-ca-bobs, and many other gluten free snacks like rice crispy treats and such. I was still trying to shake off my nervousness and I had some ice cream. I don't regret it! I was so dead tired when we got back to the apartment.

Sister Atkinson and I played tennis this morning. We're trying to get a little bit better so the next time we play with Maggie she won't be totally bored (she doesn't get as bored as much as she laughs at how I epic-ally go for the ball and miss). We're gonna go golfing sometime. Sister Atkinson has a stick that she practices with and waves around every morning for her swing. That will be a fun experience for me :)

Anyway. Having a fun and rainy time out here in Gainesville! Thanks so much for all the letters - especially you Jess ;) I'll try to write a reply as soon as I can.

Sister Jen Carlson