Monday, May 18, 2015

The good news: I'm learning to be less concerned about my own story and more concerned with other people's on my mission. The bad news: I'm a terrible blogger.

But here's a mini-miracle for you:

At district meeting (our district is made up of the most experienced missionaries in the mission... aka, the assistants to the president, the lead sister training leaders, zone leaders and district leaders... and then there is us newbies) a training was given about seeking referrals in a more excellent way. That members are not referral machines, but spirit-inspired people. When the zone leader demonstrated this for us, they prepped their "members" (the AP missionaries) teaching them how the Lord really does prepare people for the gospel, and then explaining that after the message they would ask about families who would be prepared for the gospel. Basically they promised this pretend family that pure inspiration would come during the message. It was an inspiring, spirit filled role-play and I felt so excited to try it out.

At dinner last night I was so nervous promising this family that the spirit would prompt them with people. That takes guts and trust in God. And we did it. Sister Hatch and I taught the member message in great unity, and when we came to the end and asked who came to mind, our members said, "Well, no one comes to mind."

I remained confident and reassured them that answers take time and come with prayer. As we kept talking, I felt the Spirit there like a cheerful, calm presence, especially when the father began to share an experience he had this past year. On the way to work he talked with a taxi driver about the gospel. After work he felt prompted to bring out a Book of Mormon with him, and then miraculously, out of thousands, had that same driver for the ride home, and was able to give him a Book of Mormon.

After that brought tears to his eyes, the mother shared what she'd learned in Relief Society about giving away copies of the Book of Mormon and she looked excited and motivated. Then the father said, "Hey, I have 5 managers at my work that I see monthly. I could give each of them a Book of Mormon and then follow up next month with them." And then as the mother was giving us a ride to our next destination, she said, "I just remembered there's a man who lives next to us; he rides around the neighborhood in his wheelchair. A woman in the other ward talked to him about the gospel and told us to go meet him. She said he's really interested. I forgot about that. There's another name!" She and I grinned at each other and I said, "The Spirit works!"

That was a testimony builder, that if we just try our best to do what we learn, then God will provide the rest. Missionaries who show forth faith really can make promises and the Lord will fulfill them, because really our role as missionaries is to just invite the Spirit. Sister Hatch continues to be an amazing example to me of humble charity. I have seen us wind up in the right place at the right time to help someone who is struggling because of the way she leads out the area. We both are just children when it comes to understanding missionary work and how to teach people with all the special missionary techniques, but we have firm testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ, and that outweighs any inadequacy.

And on that note, I can't believe how far I have come from that perfectionist, timid, straight A student of my first letter home. I guess I can say of that Sister Rowley, as Shakespeare's character (a character even quoted in LDS General Conference) said, "'Twas I, but 'tis not I. I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion." I stand all amazed at what Christ has done for me and continues to do for me when I put my focus on him and not on me throughout this mission. I continue to need Him every day.

The world is a mess. It needs a Messiah.
We're all fallen, so He tells us to follow.
I can't have a testimony... unless my faith has been tested.
And you can lead others because you are led.

Sister Rowley

Monday, February 9, 2015

How is your investigator?

Sister Ann still proves herself as wonderfully sweet as ever; she gave us more homemade soap -- this kind is an oatmeal face soap. (Maybe all this soap is a hint? ;) She wasn't at church this week, which made us sad. She's been coming every week. We're planning to see her so we can follow up on what happened. Church is so important to help us get through the week.

Last week we found 7 new investigators! New investigators are people you've had a lesson with and they accept a specific return appointment. This week we want to help them start progressing, so we're pouring over Preach My Gospel to help them the best we can. It should be great! Thank you for all of your prayers. We are doing our best to find the people God has prepared. We don't want anyone to be left out or forgotten, and we know your prayers are helping.

Some things I'm looking forward to this coming week are helping two of our new investigators get their shelter dogs ready for a dog show. We're also helping one woman with family history. And Sister Record's birthday is this Friday!

What was your favorite teaching moment this week?

When we taught the restoration to one of our new investigators, the spirit was so strong. She asked a question, and as I opened my mouth the answer came out smoothly; so much more than I could ever say on my own. Then she asked why we're so happy, and do we ever get stressed? Sister Record and I chuckled a little, because we had actually been a bit grouchy earlier that morning. We told her we are most definitely human, but the joy we feel while talking about the gospel is real and wonderful. She came to church the next day, and it was humbling and heart-warming to see the radiating smile, joy we hadn't yet seen on her face before, as she spoke with new friends in the hallway. She has a beautiful smile, and we feel priviledged to see that.

Those experiences feel sufficient for sharing purposes, so I hope you feel the same, but in case you were wondering, this weekend we saw three flat roadside skunks, a belly-up armadillo, a living roadrunner, a herd of dangerous cows (the sign said, "For cattle emergencies, call this number...") a stag who almost approached our car, and a huge herd of deer. Sister Record thinks the only thing missing is a kangaroo. I don't want to burst her bubble.

Thank you again for your love and support!
Sister Rowley

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Rekindled Blog

I was inspired by a relative of mine (specifically, the father of my new companion -- being related to my companion is one of the most fun revelations I've received this transfer, especially since we hadn't even met before the mission :) to bring my blog back up! I'm so grateful to be serving with Sister Record, and to soak in everything I can learn from her. She truly radiates love and enthusiasm and a joy for the gospel. It is a delight to work and laugh and study with her.

I'll just forward my family email here to let y'all know how things are going, because a testimony is important to share! Each week I just respond to questions my mother asks, because she is so amazing and helps guide my emails like that. Otherwise, without questions, I don't share too much, unfortunately. ;)

Tell us about the people you are working with right now.
Sister Ann (name changed) She's delightful! We asked if we could call her Sister G., but she said, "Oh, I really wish you'd call me Sister Ann..." We're undecided if that's kosher to use her first name, but it might be too late to insist otherwise, because 'Sister Ann' is starting to stick with me. In any case, it's easy to see the hand of the Lord when we see how instantly and easily we connected with her; the Lord intended for Sisters to come in and finish her teaching before baptism. He loves her and wants her to feel comfortable with this decision.

I felt inspired by my missionary cousin's email this week. He wants to make sure people know what they're turning down. I've felt that impression too; once we were contacting a media referral (someone who puts their info in online) and he said, "Oh, no, I'm not interested, that must have been my daughter who put my info in. Sorry." And he was about to close the door. I said, "Oh, you know why she probably did that?" And testified to him about his daughter's love for him, and about the temple and eternal families. He looked so touched, and let us set up an appointment after that. That was not me. That was the Spirit. I'm so grateful I have the example of my cousins to set me straight, because I'd forgotten that experience, and we're letting people turn us down for a game of Monopoly. How ridiculous! They need this message more than they know.

Therefore, our teaching pool is currently small, but with our new organization, and with the recent visit of Elder Nelson to inspire us to new heights, we have high hopes and desires for growing that pool. The focus on teaching by the spirit and teaching with love is opening new doors. Sister Record is loving and respectful and people can't help but smile when they meet us.

How did the visit with Elder Nelson go??

(I know you didn't ask that, but I know you would have if you'd known to ;)

Elder Russel M. Nelson wanted to shake each of our hands before the meeting began, so President Slaughter pointed to my row -- me specifically -- to be the first to shake the apostle's hand. What a Polar Express moment! The crowd went silent and I couldn't believe I got the first gift of Christmas (or in this case, the first handshake of the meeting). Elder Nelson radiates love and gratitude. I never want to let my testimony -- my sleigh bell, if you will -- go silent because I stopped believing in prophets. That man is a special witness of Jesus Christ.

He encouraged us to gain a greater command of the English language -- we want our message to be clear and understandable so people know what they're turning down. He used the example of President Hinckley, who would practice and re-practice what he would say before any important speech. The rest of the apostles would bring him their public addresses, and he would edit for them -- "put a little Hinckley polish" on it, as Elder Nelson says. I love that, and really want to help people understand what I say.

Do you have weekly service hours you are supposed to accomplish? What do you do for service? 
We are in an experiment area for the new church website 'Just Serve.' However, without iPads, we haven't made much use of it. Our ward mission leader, who would typically be the one to look online and find opportunities off the site for us, was also released this week without a new one called. These are just road bumps and excuses, however, and we're eager to learn more about this new website! 

Also, website or no, we're always on the lookout for new service opportunities, and I'm eager to learn from people around me about noticing opportunities and acting on them.

For example, after we left Elder Nelson, five of us joined in the car -- us and a trio of sisters who serve in a nearby area. The driver, our Sister Training Leader, immediately and humbly requested for a prayer of gratitude that we could hear an apostle of the Lord. Instantly I felt the truth that she had taken the gratitude Elder Nelson exuded and brought it into her life and heart.

Because of that prayer of gratitude, God blessed her with an opportunity to serve. When we stopped for dinner at a sandwich shop (we had been trying to find Chinese) she began speaking to the unhappy looking woman behind us in line. We ordered our sandwiches, and sat down, and then I watched as our young sister leader purchased not only her own food, but also the sandwich for the woman. The joy and love radiated off of those two as they parted ways, a sandwich and a pass-along card tucked in her arms.

Apparently, this woman had recently encountered a serious medical problem, restricting her diet. Her family was trying to be supportive and patient, but it was very hard, and they had gone out to eat. She couldn't go with them, and her heart was breaking. She forced herself to get out of the house and go get something to eat, leading her to this sandwich shop. The entire drive there she prayed from sorrow.

I think when we pray, the loose ends of our prayers float up to God, and He ties the ends of two people's prayers together, and if we remember our prayer, and remember to be humble, we can follow the end of our string to the person he's connected it to, and find either the answer to our prayer, or the chance to be someone's answer. The sister leader's prayer of gratitude was tied to that woman's prayer of desperation, and I'm crying now to think of how beautiful it was to see that knot unfold. Now I don't ever want to let go of the ends of my prayers.

I bubble with joy every time I get to talk to anyone about my amazing family, my breathtaking examples of siblings, my beautiful mother, my incredible father, and my stellar grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles, (including the family of my companion Sister Record ;) and I keep my fan chart ready to show -- haven't shown it yet, but we're on the lookout for people who need a whiff of genealogy in their life. I feel so blessed to be of such good stock!! :)

Keep being the incredible examples you are to me, whether you're family or not!

Keep praying for missionaries and missionary opportunities like I know you're doing!

Keep the faith!

Love, love, love,
Sister Rowley

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Monday, December 15, 2014


Good and bad news: I'm discontinuing this blog. The good news is that the work is moving on. Things get too busy for emails and a blog!

But to anyone reading this, I'm still in Texas, still loving this gospel, still serving as a full-time missionary. If you're interested, you can email me and request for my family emails. But life is busy for y'all too, and I'm sending my love with or without emails! 

Keep up the good work! Read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to church. That's the secret recipe for success, and I'm sharing it with the internet! You can even share it with your friends. You're welcome. :)

Sister Rowley

melissa (dot) rowley (at) myldsmail (dot) net

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week Five!

I was in such a hurry last week I didn't even write what week it was! Haha!

Mission Report: Our investigator passed his interview and is getting baptized this Saturday! We're so proud of him! Mission life is hard, but it's so good. We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ... :) This past Sunday we learned in Sunday School how to answer the tough questions that people ask, or that we ourselves may have about the church. The first step is to remember to pray and to search the scriptures. Then the church has great resources on And then if the person asking are just wanting to fight, then show them love and don't engage in discussion. Sometimes you can tell if they're not interested in learning if they ask rapid fire questions, ignore your sources, ridicule character, etc. It's hard as a missionary, but we need the gift of discernment -- the ability to tell between those who are ready to hear our message, and those who aren't. I heard it said recently that the only problem with the church is that it's true. :) Just show people love and respect, trust in God, do many good things of your own free will, and it will work out in the end.

Quality of Christ: My companion is helping me develop confidence. Confidence isn't knowing that you're right all the time, but confidence is knowing that Christ will not let you or anyone else down. So I've been working on opening my mouth with confidence. No need to be shy about this wonderful message! I'm terribly awkward, but I'm cheerful about it, so that's good. Haha!

Challenge! Memorize a new scripture that means something to you. This is something that I've been working on. Scriptures bring such a peaceful, hopeful spirit into my heart. Someone once said, 'The more I learn, the more excited I get.' And that's how I feel about the gospel! The more I learn the more excited I get.

Trust in God!
Sister Rowley

Monday, November 24, 2014


Challenge and Quality: an attitude of gratitude
Mission Experience: I am at a member's home borrowing an ipad to email for this holiday's P-day, so this will be brief, but I am so grateful for their kindness towards missionaries. I'm grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for Joseph Smith, for good weather and open doors. For running water and a running car, for Preach My Gospel and all it teaches. For the Book of Mormon and its power. For open hearts and helping hands. For God our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. And for you! Thank you for your support.
Sister Rowley

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week Three!

In Preach My Gospel it says something like your attitude about your mission is a reflection of your respect for the priesthood. When we met with the Mission President a week or so ago, he taught us about the priesthood -- so to improve mission morale, he teaches priesthood? Cool! The power of God is real and faith in it strengthens us. Learning more about the priesthood gave me such a respect for God's order -- He doesn't just throw His power around to whoever wants it; they have to be worthy and use it as He allows.

Here are a few tidbits of what we learned:

Different Words with the Priesthood:
1-Conferred: receiving the whole priesthood. Example: When you receive the Aaronic Priesthood, you have all of it, regardless of if you're a Deacon, Teacher, or Priest.

2-Ordained: placed into an office, or a division of duties that go along with having the Priesthood.
  • Offices in Aaronic Priesthood: Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Bishop.
  • Offices in Melchizedek Priesthood: Elder, High Priest, Seventy, Patriarch, Apostle

3-Set Apart: set apart in a calling.

  • Ordained is for life, as long as the man stays worthy -- so, once a bishop, always a bishop, once a deacon, always a deacon. But callings come and go. So when a bishop is called a second time, he doesn't need to be ordained again, only set apart. We don't really need to call him Bishop when he is not the set-apart bishop; it's just a tradition some people have.
  • A Stake President is not an office of the priesthood, it's a calling. So it's not once a president, always a president. Cool, huh? Also, there was a tiny, unimportant thing he mentioned offhand, that it's not Young Women's President, because she's not the president of the young women: the Bishop is their presiding authority. It's the Young Women Program's President, so you'd say Young Women President, not Young Women's President. Hard to wrap your head around, but so fascinating.

4-Keys: the right to preside. It takes keys to give keys. It's so important to not overstep your bounds as a priesthood holder. That's why we recognize the "presiding authority" whenever they're in our meetings. Showing respect for the man with the most keys in the room shows respect for God.

5-Titles: Calling people by the right title, and those sorts of things are called the "unwritten order," meaning it's not written anywhere, but are learned from observation and revelation; President Slaughter has learned it from observing the leaders of the church, since he's worked with them closely, and it just shows such respect for the priesthood and that power. Examples: You just call a patriarch "Brother," because he doesn't hold any Priesthood keys. He holds the Priesthood, yes, but he doesn't have the right to preside. You can call any holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood "Elder." All 3 of the presiding bishopric members can be called Bishop, but not so with normal bishoprics; just call ward bishopric counselors "Brother." Only members of specific Quorums call their president of the 70's "President." The rest of us call them Elder, because they don't hold keys that apply to us, well they do, but not they're President over us like the Prophet is, and such. Both the President and counselors of stake presidency can be called President. These were just some odd, fascinating things that make me want to learn more!

Challenge: Study something you don't understand this week! The more I learned from President Slaughter about the Priesthood, the more I cared about it and my testimony grew. So learn something from the scriptures, from the prophets, from your local priesthood leader, from prayer. Prayer is probably the most important one. Pray about what you learn.

Mission Report: We've invited and are helping a wonderful man prepare for baptism on November 29, so pray for him too! And missionary work is so good. I've written too much already, but I love all I'm learning and hope you love learning every day as well!

Quality of Christ: Knowledge. The more I have read about Christ's life this week, the more my testimony of Him grows, and I want to share it even more. Christ is constantly talking about faith, and having unwavering, great faith. When Peter walks on water, his faith wavers and he sinks for uncertainty and doubt. But still, I mean, come on! Peter walked on water! I find it so inspiring that a mortal walked towards Christ on nothing but water with nothing but faith in Christ. What a miracle! So imagine even greater faith than that? Wherefore didst thou doubt? Christ says. I know you have faith, so why did you doubt? Great faith is unwavering. Knowledge doesn't take away from faith; God is light and knowledge. So keep learning and keep focusing on the right place. If Peter didn't turn his focus away from Christ onto the storm, he wouldn't have sunk. (But still, how humbling that Christ will always save us if we call to Him.) So keep focusing on Christ!

I love you all!
Sister Rowley