1. Me and Hermana Wells after teaching for the second time (which went waaaay better than the first, which we penned a mini disaster).

2. Our beloved classroom at West Campus (complete with it's own balcony for personal study time).

3. #candid pic of our District studying

4. Elder Wright after a Tide-to-go pen accident. We love him.

5. Found Sorella Fuller at devotional!

6. Slightly obsessed with Mexico. Hermana Messenger is on the left.

7. This is what happens when the elders steal my camera and take candid selfies of themselves.

8. Hermana Cook and Messenger because they're my fave.

9. I might have been way too set on getting this retractable card holder so I could look legit as I walk around campus and swipe into buildings. Laugh all you want.

God is Love

Me, my companions, and the cliché map pic — Hermana Wells is in the middle, Hermana Wilson on the left.

Dearest Familia,

To say I have found my own small version of heaven would be an understatement. The MTC is, in every way, a whole type of other world. Within the whirlwind of last Wednesday and these past days that have become their own eternities, the Lord has blessed me with an excitement and an energy that touches my very being and reaches more than my heart. I could not be happier. It is as if God is showing me a way in which happiness can become your very being. Although at times my mind reaches the edges of remembering a life before this that does not even seem real or even obtainable again, I always come back to this work — this work of God that I never knew I loved so much until I fully lived it.

A few facts that you might want to know:

1) I am in a trio companionship with Hermana Wells and Hermana Wilson. As if heaven-sent, I met Hermana Wells within mere seconds of entering Main Campus. Upon first meeting, my heart knew that she is trustworthy and wise and good, with the greatest touch of beauty. I thanked Heavenly Father in that moment for sending me, in a sense, one of His choicest angels. I have learned that she is the embodiment of grace, which one needs a lot of here. She is from Colorado, and will serve in the Panama Panama City Mission. I love her.

We met the last third of our companionship after arriving to West Campus. In these past few days, I have come to know and love Hermana Wilson for her fired motivation, active goodness, and quiet understanding of herself. She is, in a word, strength. She's from Oregon and is going to my same mission (yay!). How grateful I was to have had strength and grace by my side during those first unknown hours.

We have two other sisters in our District: Hermana Cook and Hermana Messenger. Hermana Cook is simply lovely, as in she could probably be based off a character in an Anne of Green Gables novel. She reminds me of those teachers that everyone wants, because she is that rare combination of outward kindness and absolutely delightful humor. Her companion, Hermana Messenger, arrived late Wednesday night due to an airplane adventure in New Mexico. She is as pleasantly surprising as her arrival — full of so much desire to do good and be great, without even realizing that she already is just that. I am continually grateful that God has placed such chosen and good people within my midst, as I have just been trying to keep up with them since the beginning. They are all perfect — a quality that I think has already given me unrealistic expectations of what it will be like among my companions in Mexico.

2) Our District is comprised of us and six elders fresh out of high school (One of whom was almost suspended in high school for selling his homemade snickerdoodle cookies. I don't know why I love that story so much). They are all great and so eager to learn and be good, and already view the sisters in our District as saints, only because we actually do what we're told instead of singing "Called To Serve" in Spanish every chance we get. They are like our brothers now, and I love them.

3) Our Zone is equally as loved and respected as the elders in our District. We met our whole Zone the first night here, and one would think it was the first time any of them had seen a girl in their life. They clapped and cheered and all lined up after Zone prayer to shake our hands and wish us a buenas noches. We later learned that there haven't been any hermanas in their Zone for a good few weeks, which made us famous for simply being girls. It was hilarious. We have three Zone Leaders, and they're the greatest. We have theorized that the longer one stays here, the older one begins to look. This is mainly based off the fact that the Zone Leaders look like they could be in their late twenties compared to the appearance of our elders (If this theory turns out to be true, I will probably be approaching the appearance of a thirty year old by the time I'm done here).

4) Our Branch President is literally a younger version of Elder Holland, both in looks and in his way of direct conviction coupled with the most tender compassion. Everyone loves him. He assigned our companionship to be the Sister Training Leaders for our Zone — we're not entirely sure what that entails, but are grateful for the chance to learn how to love and lead in love this early on in our missions. We should be getting more sisters next week!

5) The rumors are true and we have officially been moved to Main Campus. Before, living at West Campus, I had had to swallow my pre-mission bitterness about being quarantined over there, because I actually loved it within the first day. Being at Main Campus has made us all feel new again, and we're really trying to love it here even though we had a small glimpse of Paradise over on the other side.

6) Concerning food: you will happy to hear that I still eat my peanut butter toast with sliced bananas quite frequently here, along with the occasional avocado toast (made possible by mi mama who sends the most lovely and well-received packages of healthy food and sustaining words). My vegetarianism is still going strong, although we'll see how long that lasts once in Merida.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that I wish I could relay through words, such as getting on the wrong bus on our way back from Main Campus, and being confronted by a security guard for trying to make a break for it; getting up at five in the morning for a service project that never existed in the first place; listening to a song by our elders in tribute of our most beloved Zone Leader ("Viva del Rey, Elder Shumway"). However, out of all these occurrences, the most important happenings here are the building and expanding of testimony and knowledge. Most of this has come from preparing to teach and teaching our investigator, Lorenzo, who believes in God but doesn't know Him. However afraid I was of teaching before, it has now become something I look forward to. To tell people who have never heard these truths for the first time is incredible. We are teaching him about God and His plan for us. In my studies of searching for the true nature of God (which also happens to be one of my favorite restored truths of this good Gospel), I came across a sentence in the Bible dictionary that says God will remain unknown to us until we seek to find Him. He does not force a belief or love for Him, but continually allows us to use the greatest gift of agency in still choosing to search, find, and know Him. I find this interesting, especially in learning that God's greatest work and glory for us is to have eternal life, meaning to come to know God and Jesus Christ. I love that definition of eternal life, and I can't wait to teach that to people who do not know God and do not know that they can.

In terms of coming to know God, I've learned that the greatest way to do that is through love. It never ceases to amaze or surprise me that all people are really searching for is love, in a way to feel love and give love and receive love--and isn't that what God does? I read the scripture in 1 John about how God is love, and that if you do not know love, you do not know God. How beautiful that is to me, that out of everything God wants us to know and master and feel, is love.

While I have missed you these past days, I love you even more. Being here has given me an even greater understanding of eternity, and how grateful I am that my eternity is your eternity as well.

all my love,


P.S. General announcement: my family is the greatest, most thoughtful and most lovely ever. Thank you thank you for all the letters/packages that you sent this week. They might have made me cry just a little, but made me feel joyful and loved even more. I love you!

P.P.S. I'll be going to the Consulate in Salt Lake this Saturday and will wave to you from the train!


Farewell Talk

This past April I received the call to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Mexico Mérida Mission, an area home to approximately 950,000 people situated in the Northwest region of the Yucatán Peninsula. I consider it the greatest privilege and blessing to dedicate the upcoming eighteen months in serving as the Lord’s representative and minister of His most true and everlasting Gospel, and look forward to not only teaching a handful of the thousands, but most importantly anticipate serving my Savior, Jesus Christ, and God, my Heavenly Father. 

As called representatives of Christ, missionaries have the honor of living with the sole purpose “to talk of Christ, to rejoice in Christ, and to preach of Christ,” in order for God’s children to “know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” [1] But what happens and what is attained in talking, rejoicing and preaching of Christ? I believe that in coming to know more of Christ, we come to a greater realization of our true selves and true home in God — an identity that is divinely designed and eternal. It is this knowledge of our beautiful importance and place in the sight of God that I hope to bring to the people of Mexico in helping them take upon themselves the name of Christ, for it is this act (of taking upon us the name of Christ) that more tightly binds our hearts and minds to the heart and will of God. 

The more we learn of who Christ is, the more we learn of our own eternal identities, understanding as the Apostle Paul taught that “we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” [2] Yet even with this knowledge, the reality of our divine heritage often fades as some harken to Satan’s call that lead them further away from they are with God and who they can continue to become with Him. The adversary uses this strategy of making us question our identity as one of his main forms of leading us into temptation. This perspective is reflected in Matthew 4, where Satan attempts to tempt the Savior three times. In each instance, the adversary begins with the phrase, “If thou be the Son of God.” How interesting that Satan attacks Christ’s very identity — one that is eternal and appointed. From the very beginning, Satan tries to make Christ doubt His divine identity and inheritance. 

Satan uses this same tactic on all of God’s children today.  He realizes that dissuading people of their origin in Heaven as sons and daughters of God is a sure way of leading them into temptation. When people doubt the truth that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them, they are much more likely to view sin with less consequence. In this sense it is important to remember that within our decisions, our mortal selves most commonly look to the temporal outcomes and consequences. However, we are each beings of an eternal nature, and as such our choices and the consequences or rewards of what we decide are also eternal in their composition. When disbelief lives in the fact that God wants all of us to return to Him, we are more likely to begin on a path moving us further away from our heavenly home. Yet Christ taught that if we choose to align our will with God’s and give of ourselves more fully, we will in turn become more like Him and increase our potential of returning to the greatest version of ourselves, one that we cannot reach alone. 

God's eternal perspective and plan for each of us was revealed through both the Savior's actions and ministry,  wherein the characteristics of God were revealed. Through them we learn that we are God's children, that we can pray to Him and He will listen and answer, that our actions reflect our love and obedience to Him, that our lives are divinely designed, and that we can become like Him, our Eternal Father in Heaven. These teachings of Christ awakened those who followed Him then — and those who choose to believe in Him now — that there is purpose in forming a relationship and love for God; that there is meaning and reason in loving others more than oneself; and that we, too, can become like God if we look to an eternal understanding of keeping His commandments and enduring to the end. 

By coming to understand our true identity and the nature of God, His love for us is more easily realized and received. Manifestations of this love are recorded time and time again within each of His disciples' narrations found in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. What I love most is the consistency with which each of these separate accounts relay descriptions of Christ always noticing, reaching out, and touching the people that often went unnoticed, untouched, and unloved. These people were the ones society marked as unclean, unworthy, and broken, and yet they are the ones who Christ chose to spend His short time with: the lame, the blind, the lepers, the sinners. These interactions reveal the greatest miracle and characteristic of Christ — that in the midst of talking and testifying about how much we must love Christ, He believes in us and loves us more than we do. 

The reality of Christ’s love is realized in the story of Penny, a young atheist whose conversion to Christ is recorded in a book of Christian essays. While living in France, Penny’s conversations about school and work slowly turn to talks about Christ, as a roommate invites Penny to read the Bible with her each night. As she comes to learn and know more of Christ, her heart responds to the transformation that only our Savior is capable of. She says,

“We started reading through Matthew, and I thought it was all very interesting … and I found Jesus very disturbing, very straightforward. He wasn’t diplomatic, and yet I felt like if I met Him, He would really like me … I can’t explain how freeing that was, to realize that if I met Jesus, He would like me … there were people He loved and people He got really mad at, and I kept identifying with the people He loved, which was really good because they were all the broken people … the kind of people who are tired of life and want to be done with it, or they are the desperate people, people who are outcasts or pagans. There were others, regular people, but He didn’t play favorites at all, which is miraculous in itself. That fact alone may have been the most supernatural thing He did. He didn’t show partiality, which every human does.”

Perhaps the greatest knowledge of Christ rests in the fact that, as Penny discovered, He loves and knows us infinitely more than we can comprehend or even begin to love in return. He loves us into becoming and awakens us to the knowledge of who we are and who we can be. 

There were twelve chosen disciples called as witnesses during the Savior’s earthly ministry who knew of His love personally and intimately. These twelve men did not claim title to extraordinary by any means — some were known as fishermen; one held title of tax collector. Yet these twelve people, in light of the phrase “many are called but few are chosen,” [3] offered up their ordinary lives in choosing to be choice by following Christ. Throughout the days and years of traveling by the Savior’s side, witnessing of His miracles and divine power, learning and testifying of His words that spoke of higher laws, and simply spending time among His quiet, magnificent presence, the Twelve Disciples' lives transformed into extraordinary ones — not lives lived without faults or imperfections, but ones with the knowledge that their shortcomings and weaknesses could be made whole by the very Man they walked alongside. This transformation of their old selves becoming new in Christ is recorded throughout the New Testament, where four of the disciples recount the life of the Savior. In one of my favorite accounts, the apostle John narrates a story exemplifying the dedication of Christ’s twelve followers:

Beginning along the Sea of Galilee in the city of Capernaum, Christ ministers to a multitude of people proclaiming to be His followers after watching Him heal they eyes of a blind man, distribute bread and fish to five thousand, and pronounce a sinner as forgiven and whole. Yet towards the end of the Savior’s teachings during this particular record, “many of the disciples went back, and walked no more with him,” having believed only in His miracles and being converted only to His power, rather than believing in His identity as the Son of God and being converted to His teachings. In a moment of what I imagine to be great vulnerability and disappointment in watching His once true followers abandon His side, Christ turns to the chosen twelve — the men He had called to walk with Him, to stand by Him, to witness of Him, and to love Him. With a hesitantly hopeful and imploring inquiry, Christ asks His Apostles a simple question with these five words: “Will ye also go away?” In response, His apostle Simon Peter answers with quiet confidence and a surety in proclaiming, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Son of the living God.” [4]

With these three simple sentences, we know why they — out of the thousands — made the decision to stay. They believed in and knew who Christ was. They believed in and knew the truth of the words He spoke. And they believed and knew that He loved them as they loved Him. They would not leave Him because they had found themselves in Christ and had been changed by His love. 

So why do we choose to stay? We stay because we know the true Christ — and because we know Him, we love Him. We know, as the apostle Simon Peter did, that if asked the question, "Will ye also go away?" we could not and would not, because we know who He is and therefore, who we are. We have received of His great love that changes us and makes us whole. With this knowledge, our words echo those of Elder Tanner’s in proclaiming: 

“I…know that in a deeper sense, I am bound to Christ, who has bought me with His blood and won me with His love. I am bound to Him by ties that reach to the very depths of my soul.

The Lord’s questions call me home. They draw me back to my true self, to my eternal nature. While sin leads me ever farther away from myself, into a realm of masks and error, the Lord’s interrogatives invite me to claim my true name — son of God — and beckon me to my true home.” [5]

This is why I look forward to talking, rejoicing, and preaching of Christ for the next eighteen months — to teach the people of Mexico of their true nature as sons and daughters of God and of their eternal inheritance in a heavenly home, and that through learning of these truths their lives will become more deeply rooted in the reality of Christ and His love. I already love God's children in Mexico — for who they are now, and for who they can become through the great love and atoning sacrifice of Christ. I love my Savior, not only for what He did, but for who He is: the Son of God whose words and love call me back to my truest self and purest love for my Eternal Heavenly Father. These things I know of and am sure, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[5] John S. Tanner, "Responding to the Lord's Questions" Ensign April 2002