Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Being Positive and New Mission President

Dearest Mother,

This week has been full of some amazing lessons and insights. I really do love the way that the Lord works. He knows what I need when I need it. He knows who I need when I need it. He also knows who needs me when they need me, and He makes sure that I am there so that I can help them.

Last Saturday we helped an investigator move to Atlanta. This person has been trying to get to Atlanta for the last 6 months, and every plan she had kept falling through. Time after time, either her ride or her apartment would fall through. When I first met her, she seemed to have a super strong testimony of the gospel, and of Christ as her Savior. As things began to fall through, she began to lose faith. She told me once that her situation was beyond God's help. That made me really sad, but my companion and I still trying to show her that we loved her, that God loved her, and that something would work itself out, it just might not be in her timing. She ended up moving in with some recent converts because one of them is friends with her and heard that she was being kicked out because her lease was up. Those few weeks were hard for the recent converts because of the negativity that the other lady had. I and my companion and the Elders watched, prayed, and fasted for all three of them hoping that it would all work out to each of their best. We continued to visit and to encourage them all not to lose hope. Eventually we were able to help the lady find a ride to Atlanta (another member volunteered) and she was able to get to where she needed/wanted to go. I was told later by one of the members that was with the lady when she left that she noticed two miracles-one the two recent converts had real honest happy smiles that day for the first time in weeks, and two-the lady had nothing but positive things to say the entire way up to Atlanta. That was so awesome!! It made my heart hurt because of how much negativity she spread to everyone, and how it wasn't just a few people that felt it. The next day (Sunday) Sister McCulloch and I went to the recent converts house and just wanted to check up on how they were doing. We had a super spiritual discussion that made me sympathize (as much as I am capable of) a little bit with our Heavenly Father. One of the recent converts was very concerned over the spiritual welfare of the lady that had been living with them for a while. She noted that although this lady professed to want to follow Christ, her actions did not prove it, and day after day she would hear about the unfairness that life had given the lady. We began discussing the power of agency, and that as much as we sometimes wish we could make people understand the importance of the commandments and following Christ, to do so is the Devil's plan and now our Fathers. We do not learn when we are forced, and more often then not, if we are forced, we will rebel against it, no matter if it is good for us or not. I told her that this was part of the reason why I had decided to serve a mission. I know the truth. I am happy. No not just happy but joyous! I know God's Plan! Sure there are days where I get down, but we will all have those days, the key is getting back up on our feet and continuing on, trusting the Lord to know what is best. My heart breaks to know that there are people who I love, people who I have served for months on end, who refuse to accept their Savior. Who refuse to accept His love. Who have been told time and time again by those who are supposed to be their support, their family, that they are worthless. That they aren't worthy of any love. That is NOT true. Heavenly Father loves all His children, with a love I cannot even begin to comprehend! His heart must break every time He ever sees us do something that He knows will hurt us. He suffers as we suffer. Such is the price of parenthood. But how great His joy is when we do what is right! How excited He is to tell us "Welcome Home my child". To embrace us!

This last week we said goodbye to President and Sister Cottle. As of Thursday they are released as my mission president and wife. It was so hard to say goodbye to them! I would talk to them all the time, they were always there when I needed them! How awesome it was for me to be able to give President Cottle a hug before he left. It has been hard along my mission to not give everyone a hug, and follow the counsel and rule I agreed to going on a mission to not hug any male.. That includes my Mission President. He became my father here. He loved me like his daughter. How excited I was to give him a hug. :) How much more excited I will be to give my earthly parents hugs when I see them again, and how much more exciting it will be to finally be able to give my Father a hug at the end of my mission here on earth. How happy I am that I have a wonderful family who has taught me the meaning of love. Who have loved me no matter what, and who made sure that I knew it too:) Their support is so important to me. Your support especially Mom:) Oh how I love to receive an email from you every week! So faithfully too!! I don't know what you will do when you no longer have a missionary out to email every Monday. You have been doing it so faithfully for almost 5 years. I know my brothers will agree when I say that it means the world to a missionary to hear from their mother's and loved ones. Even when it is sad news, it is wanted. 

Oh how I love my Savior! Oh how I love my God! Oh how I love my Father! I am so thankful for all three members of the Godhead. The Father for knowing and understanding me, for listening to me when I am down, and sending me the things I need to help me be happy. The Son for making it possible for these terrible feelings to not last, for making sure that I would never have to go through it alone, like He did. The Spirit for helping me feel comforted even in the randomest times of the day. I don't know if I can ever express my feelings to the extent that I feel them, but I just want you and everyone else to know that with God, ANYTHING is possible. No matter how crazy or seemingly out of His reach. No matter how small or inconsequential it seems-HE CAN DO IT. We must trust Him. Yes those around us may falter, and we should try to lift them up, but if they fall, we should not let ourselves fall with them. Their choices do not affect our own. Love them. Serve them. Forgive them. 

Remember He loves you. I love you. No matter what.

Be strong, have courage. Choose Happiness and Gratitude.


Sister Monica Walker

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Companion and Father's Day

Dear Mother,
You can most definitely be president of my fan club:) I trust you to make sure everybody sees all the thousands of pictures that you have of me too.. hahaha :)

My new companion is actually one of my old companions!! Her name is Sister McCulloch and we were companions in the MTC together! We also figured out that if she and I are companions for the next transfer as well, then I get to send her home! It is a very strange thought, because we came out together, but because she served a mini mission in the Salt Lake City South Mission for 3 months before going to the MTC, her mission ends 3 months before mine does. She is super awesome though! I remember when I met her in the MTC, she was super quiet and didn't talk very much, now she talks a lot! which is nice, because sometimes I get tired of talking (surprising right?). While we were in the MTC, I remember being part of a lesson with her, where she shared with our "investigator" that her dad has passed away about 6 months prior. I was super impressed with her dedication to still be willing to go on her own mission so shortly after her dad passed. Remember she had already served fro 3 months by this point. Now I get to learn more about her, and I am so amazed by the strength that she has, and the support that she carries with her everywhere she goes (from both sides of the veil). I love how willing she is to talk to everyone (considering she doesn't know anyone). I love how she has decided to help me continue to prank the Elders every once in a while (no mean pranks though promise) because it is a nice stress reliever during the week, when all of us can just laugh about what was done. (we plastic wrapped their apartment last time). I also love how she is so willing to help me plan and do the things I ask her too, even though they are long and tedious, because I know it will help her learn the area faster, and because I know it will help us be more productive too:)

I don't think I know what the Doctrinal Mastery Program is, you will have to enlighten me on its purpose as you are learning about it:)

I am super excited for this transfer and all that I will get to learn with my new companion! It will be fun to catch up on all the things we have missed out on in the last year since I have really been able to talk to her, and it will also be fun to be able to make new memories with her as well:) We already made some fun memories yesterday when we attended the Sherwood Baptist Church (someone invited us too). It looked a lot like a mini conference center, but the service was basically a rock concert which was a little strange, but fun. I also learned that the movie Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants were made by Sherwood, or else someone closely associated with them. Apparently I met one of the actors too, but I didn't know it. My comp told me that later:) They were all super nice, and a couple came up later and introduced themselves to us. It was kinda funny to see how many people would look at our tags before they looked at our faces. I got lots of hugs there and lots of prayers. And everyone told me that God loved me, which was kinda awesome. It was very strange for me though because I was used to something so different, and that made me really think about the people that I invite to church, and am I preparing them for what they will see? Many people we invite are used to the type of services that we went too, and I didn't realize how differently they do it until I went myself. It was fun though:)

Tell everyone I said Happy Father's Day! and that I love them all very much!
Love forever and Always,

Sister Monica Walker

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Still here!

Dear Mother,

I am not getting transferred this time! I get to stay in Albany! But my companion is getting transferred. We don't know where she is going yet, and I am going to be super sad to see her go, but it will be exciting to meet my new companion and have a new friend to learn all about her life with.

This week has been a super crazy week though!! On Wednesday Sister Danible left on exchanges and Sister Black (who was in my district back in Columbus but now was in this other stake with me) came to Albany with me. It was a really long drive, and so it took up much of the day just getting to and from there to here. It was fun though because then it meant that I got to drive and I haven't really driven in the Toyota corrolas yet. I will get to soon though once I have been in the area longer (so basically tomorrow once Sister Danible officially transfers) The tiwi/black box things that we have in our car are kinda frightening though when we would be driving and then suddenly some robotic voice yells at us to watch our speed. They are awesome for teaching people how to drive though so that is pretty cool.

Thursday we went to our ZTM and we gave the trainings that we had given the last week at MLC. It was a lot less stressful and scary because the mission president wasn't sitting behind us taking notes this time so it was less like a test and more like a discussion. I did however end up singing at the ZTM too. Sister Danible volunteered me to last time we had ZTM. I sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer to the tune of Come Thou Font. It was actually pretty good considering we only went through it twice before the meeting.

Saturday we were in a city called Blakely all day and we did a blitz split where each of us had a member with us, and we had the elders there too with each a member and we tried to go see some of the people that wanted to be seen by missionaries over there. It is hard to always see them all because they live an hr away from us, and we can't feasibly go there once a week due to the mileage limitation that we have, as well as the time constraint that happens as well. It was really awesome though to see peoples reactions when we would show up and they hadn't seen missionaries in a long time, or had never seen missionaries, and they were so happy to talk with us and allowed us to share our message. It was nice and refreshing compared to much of the time here where people close their doors when they see that we are missionaries.

I really do love the South though, and I am so grateful to be able to be a part of the culture here, as well as experience how much people can really love their Savior, no matter who they are, how rich or poor they are, or where they originally came from. If nothing else, we are all united in that:)

Love you all!

-Sister Monica Walker

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Dearest Mother,

How wonderful of an opportunity that you had to be able to go to the Nauvoo temple! It really is a wonderful thing to be able to go to the temple. It is something that I think about a lot now that I am unable to go due to the distance and boundary restrictions of my mission. How fun for all of you to be able to have that opportunity though to go somewhere connected to the history of our church! I remember going to Palmyra when I was 16 and I was amazed at the realness of the lives that I had heard about all growing up. I cried when I went and saw Alvin Smith's grave for the first time. I felt peace every time I went to the Sacred Grove. I felt the enormity of Heavenly Father's love for me, His daughter sitting underneath a tree at the Palmyra temple grounds. I remember being disappointed the first time I went to the Sacred Grove, because I expected to feel a little bit closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when I walked where they stood, and began the Restoration, and then I had an epiphany--I didn't feel any different from normal because I already had them with me all the time! I had been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and promised, that as long as I was doing what I was supposed to do, it would remain with me always. So of course it wasn't any different, because it was already there. Once I realized that, and I continued to go to the Sacred Grove every morning to study my scriptures, I realized that the Spirit began to be with me a little bit more every day. Eventually, during one of the last times I was there, and I realized exactly how much Heavenly Father loved me, a 16 year old girl from California, thats when I felt the Spirit the strongest. It wasn't a super crazy experience where I suddenly burned inside from the Holy Ghost confirming to me the truth of the conclusions I made, but more of a contentment that yes this was right, and yes, the Lord needs me where I am when I am there. That has honestly been a huge part of my mission as well. I don't feel any different from when I was home, even though I know that I am surrounded by His Spirit more often, as well as guided by His hand on a daily basis, so sometimes it is hard for me to think that anything has changed since I left, or that I am growing at all, or that anyone is getting something from what I teach and share. I get disappointed a lot with the progress that I personally am making on my trek back to Heavenly Father, but then I remember that I wont see much of the progress I made until I get home and someone else points it out to me.

The other day I was contemplating the personal progress I will have made by the time I get home, and I was remembering my brothers returning from home on their missions, and how much they had changed. I have always loved my brothers, and they have always loved me, and I knew that they always knew that they were sons of God. I do remember though when Ben came home from his mission, and how much more loving he was to me. I remember that before his mission, he didn't like hugs or kisses because it made him uncomfortable, and how Alex and I would tease him all the time and try to give him a hug or a kiss anyway. I remember before Ben had the strangest sense of humor (as really all of us do) and he made it a point to not smile in any of the pictures we took (still not sure why-stubbornness maybe?) But even through all of that, he was the best oldest brother ever, and he was so kind to each of us, and tried to make sure that we stayed on the straight and narrow especially when we might have strayed a bit. And then he left on his mission, and that was a hard time for me because of all the friends and family that died right before he left. His farewell was a bitter-sweet day because we heard of 3 people who had passed away, and then we had to listen to Ben give his farewell talk in church. I was scared he would leave and never come back. The morning he left he was set apart as a missionary, and I was praying for him, and Heavenly Father spoke to me and promised me that he would come home safe. I didn't think much about it after that, and then it was more or less a waiting game for him to come home. Josh and I grew really close in the few years following that before he left on his mission. We would go to Seminary every morning together, and we would laugh about a lot of different things. Josh was so kind and loving and hard working. I even remember that the Mormon Prom was a week before my 16th Birthday, and even though I technically wasn't allowed to go, I really wanted to go so that I could go with my brother to a dance. When he finally left for his mission as well, it wasn't as hard, because I still had that same promise from Heavenly Father for Josh as I did for Ben, but this time it was just unspoken. I would occasionally read the emails they sent home, and I watched from a distance to see the things that they grew to love in their various areas. I remember getting a picture for the first time of Ben smiling really big, and I remember you and I teasingly asking who he was because we didn't recognize the smiling handsome young man in the pictures:) And then Ben came home. I remember us going over to the Modesto airport to get him at night, and we had Sara with us because her parents were out of town. I remember the smile he had on his face, and then the confusion when the airport doors wouldn't open. haha.. I remember that over the next few weeks while he was home I saw a different side of him then I had seen before my mission. He told me he loved me more, he gave me hugs, he even took me to my winter formal! That was the only time I ever went to one of my school dances and he took me to it, even though he hates dances. :) He listened to me gripe about my life, and then gave me a hug and told me everything would be ok. He theorized with me. And then I went off to college and he went off to college, and I lived 15 mins away from Josh while he was on his mission. That awesome moment that I got to go to General Conference with my missionary brother and his companion, and their investigator, as well as my RM brother and his roommate from Japan. How wonderful of a reunion it was for them, because it had been 3 years since they had seen each other. (They even cried! and it made me cry too:)) And then I got to spend a few hours with Josh in the airport at the end of his mission because he and I got to fly home for Christmas together (I had just finished my semester). And then Dad joined us at the airport and there were so many tears! Since then, I have noticed how much more Josh loves each member of his family, and even the people who are random strangers. I see that he is so much more comfortable with who he is, because he knows that he is a son of God! He has divine heritage, just like the rest of us. Ben takes the time every week since near the beginning of my mission to write me a letter. Josh takes time out of every Monday to email me while I am online. I have watched them all my life, because they are my older brothers, and I love and admire them a lot. When I was thinking about all this the other day, I realized a couple of different things. One, although I can't necessarily see the change that has happened to me since I left on my mission, it will be fun to go home and hear what people notice that have changed (hopefully for the better. haha). I even asked the other missionaries in my ward what they thought had changed the most about themselves since the beginning of their mission, and when they asked me, I thought a lot about it. I think for me is that I will be a lot better at listening to people. I will have a lot more empathy for their trials. I will understand the depth of people's feelings goes a lot further then what I can sometimes see. I realize that my life is a lot better than I thought, and I have been blessed so greatly to have the family that I have. I will work so much harder when I get home to keep our family strong, because I don't want it to fall apart ever. We are going to be an eternal family, and I want to have the best relationships ever! 

The other thing I learned is about our Savior. I have watched and learned from my older brothers all my life, and I continue to do so, and probably will for the rest of my life. My Savior is the Eldest of all of us. He is the epic version of the best older brother ever! He sets the example for me everyday. He gives me advice when I need it. He cries with me when I am sad. He tells me everyday that He loves me. He set the way, carved my path with His Hands. He made it so easy for me, because now all I have to do is follow the example that He gave. I don't have to question if I'm carving my life the way it is supposed to be carved, because I'm not the carver. He is. I just follow. My life changes because I know Him. Like my older brothers, when they came home from their missions, I have no doubt that I will be different, if only because I am trying to be more like my Savior everyday!
One of my MTC friends sent me an email today about something that helps her going when things get hard. She says her brother always tells her that "God only gives His hardest battles to His strongest warriors." Life is hard. No one can ever honestly tell you otherwise. However, God knows that we can get through it. These trials and hard time will be but a moment. If we endure it well, we will be blessed! And how awesome of a brother that He would tell us how we can get through anything. We just have to listen to Him. 

I could go on and on about my family, and the influence that they have had on me, and the love that I have grown for them, even thousands of miles away, but alas, my time is up. Remember that I love you so much!! And you are a wonderful awesome mom to all of your kids! (Even if I am your favorite..)

Sending you all my love!
Sister Monica Walker

PS Alex and Robert I promise I love you as much as Ben and Josh, they just got highlighted this week.. I will probably talk about y'all in some future email too:) Maybe next week!