Monday, January 6, 2014

7 January 2014

Kia Ora!

Boy, this week is proving to be such an emotional roller coaster.  I'm sure my poor companion will be glad to see me leave!.  Well family, "I did it!"  "I made it through one of the hardest, yet best transfers of my whole mission!" Now I'm counting down the hours.  But first, we had New Year's Eve celebrations on Wednesday and then on Friday we went to the BYU Art Exhibition for Carl Block and three other famous artists.  We caught the, "Front Runner" (train) and it really has been a fabulous week.   I actually forgot to mention the exhibition in my last email.  After going to the museum we were given some free time to go to the BYU Bookstore.  While there we bumped into Sister Christiansen who has since finished her mission and is now attending BYU.  She was so shocked to see a bunch of Temple Square sister missionaries roaming around BYU campus.  It was so cool.   We all walked to the nearby Stake Center where ate lunch which was provided by a really kind Stake.  They had organized to have their youth come and serve the lunch and it was so nice.  Well, the reason why we were able to attend the Museum was due to Sister Back taking a VIP tour during her last transfer with her old companion - Sister Hvistendahl from Greenland/Denmark.   The Director for the BYU Museum and the secretary to the Queen of Denmark were on the VIP tour and a few other dignitaries and it just so happened that the Director really appreciated Sister Back and her companion, so much so that they said, "We should call your Mission President and invite you all to come and see the religious exhibit!"  Well, it was a miracle, because we were all in attendance at this exhibition.  It was such a beautiful, religious art museum and very moving.  I wish everyone could have seen it. They'd borrowed some of the altar pieces from different churches as well as pieces from the Palace in Denmark itself which were so beautiful.  "Did I mention they were beautiful?"  While we were at the Stake Center my old companion Sister Vach texted me and said, "Are you here at BYU?" So I texted back to her the address of the Stake Centre and she came over with her parents and Sister Jardine.  It was really awesome to see them again! 

Apart from visiting the Museum, we did spend a lot of time in the office working on schedules and while we haven't quite finished sorting through  everything, we are close to finishing.  Hopefully, we will finish up tonight and then Sister Back will be taking over as of tomorrow.  Her new companion is Sister Chang from Taiwan and she is returning from her outbound assignment.  I loved going to lunch with the Porters to the Cheesecake Factory.  It was amazing and I loved spending time with them again. Thank you Aunty Mona and family.

On Sunday our departing class was recognized by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  We attended, "Music and the Spoken Word" and towards the end of the program, the audience was made aware of our departing class of missionaries and so each sister was highlighted.  They firstly announced our name, where we are from and then had us stand after which everyone applauded.  It was so emotional.  The emotions had flowed over from our Sacrament meeting where we were invited to share our testimonies.  I forgot to mention that I had my departing interview and blessing after the art exhibition on Friday.  I really loved my blessing and I believe I may have started crying prior to my blessing when I was asked to share who all my companions were.  I really love President and Sister Gillette because they have done such a fabulous job as Mission Parents just by leading by example and showing us how to serve with love and how to remain motivated.  I am so grateful I had them as my Mission President & wife.  I hope to serve another mission one day.

Well, I witnessed so many miracles this past week and one of them happened last Thursday around the time when half of the mission went to the BYU Museum and the other half stayed behind.  There weren't too many Sisters left on the Square and it was during our personal study time that I received a text from West Gate saying that there was a really sweet lady on the Square who wanted to take a tour.  I glanced down at the text and then put my phone down as I think I was half asleep.  I then registered what I had read and quickly asked my companion if she wanted to take a tour.  We called West Gate and informed them that we wound take the tour.  We were informed that the lady was in Salt Lake City for a job interview and she really wanted to work on her relationship with God.  During the tour we learnt that this lovely lady was from Florida, is 25 years of age and is definitely searching for answers as she has experienced a number of trials this past year where she has applied for different jobs but hasn't been successful.  We took her to see the Christus and she said, "This...feels like home!"  After 30 minutes into the tour, we asked her if she'd like to learn more about the church and explained how we can have her local missionaries visit her.  We then extended the invitation to attend church and she accepted.  During the tour she had become quite emotional and said she didn't know why she was like that,  but we knew it was because she was feeling the Spirit and receiving answers to her prayers.  

The second miracle was when I had the opportunity to call Brian in South Carolina and re-teach him the lesson about Tithing.  At the end of our conversation he informed me that he was going to attend a baptism the next day for another one of our investigators in the Summerville 2nd Ward.  This particular investigator was married to a member of the church during the time that he was less active.  Then, he turned his life around and became active again and so his wife decided to attend church with him.  She has been attending church for years but has never been baptized.  I was so happy to hear this from Brian and was excited to write to the family after I hung up.  Well,  I wrote to them to learn if it was  true and they responded not only with an email but also with a copy of the baptismal program.  I learnt that Bishop Johnson had called her into his office on Sunday and told her that he wanted to give her a calling but he couldn't because she wasn't a member of the church.  He then invited her to be baptized (something she has been asked many, many, times) and he gave her a week to think about it.  The following week she went back to his office not knowing what her answer would be and she said the first word that came out of her mouth was "Yes!" So, this sweet sister was baptized on January  4 2014!  Tender mercies.  It will be awesome to see this lovely family sealed in the temple next year. I hope I can attend it in South Carolina!

Well family I will be seeing you all very soon and just so you know, all the tears I have been shedding these past few days are because of the love I have for this great work and for my Saviour Jesus Christ.  I am definitely going to MISS the many friends I have made while on my mission but I know my work on Temple Square is done and I am ready for my missionary experiences as a member missionary in my home Ward.  Tomorrow I will attend the Temple with my departing class and then we will have dinner at the Lion House followed by a testimony meeting.  Then we will go home, finish packing and on Wednesday I will be companions with Sister Vaivai all the way to NZ!  So awesome! 

I feel the need to end my email by sharing my testimony:  "I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers EVERYONE! Heavenly Father loves all of His children just the same, that's why His love is unconditional.  A person who lives on the streets and begs for money doesn't mean the Lord loves him any less.  We are all spirit children of our Father in Heaven with the same divine potential and our goal is to help remind our brothers and sisters of that goal and then achieve it together.  What a journey this 18 month mission has been for me to finally understand my place in life and eternity.  I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart, it has been the reason for my true conversion as I have studied its pages and found answers to life's questions.  I know it is a gift from God. I testify that my Saviour lives, He lived and died thousands of years ago and He was resurrected and lives again. We will all stand before Him and be held accountable for what we have done with our lives and the gifts and talents He has blessed us with.  My hope is to stand with confidence and not fear.  I love all of my companions - even when things were a little difficult - because it's the challenging times that helped me to grow stronger!  I am a witness that miracles do happen everyday and there is always something to be grateful for.  I know that enduring to the end is a principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because the Lord wants us to exercise our faith and gain the knowledge that we need so that we can be unshaken and immovable just like the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I know that we have a living Prophet today.  I have been in his presence and felt the Christlike love emanating from this great spiritual giant of a man. I am forever grateful for the sacrifices ordinary people make to bring about extraordinary things.  I am so happy that I chose to serve the Lord. This hasn't been easy and not every day during my mission have I wanted to take another tour or knock on another door but I have done it because I love the Saviour.  I am eager to share what I have learnt with anyone that is willing to listen so that they to can come to know of the truthfulness of the gospel.  I know that if everything were to be taken away from me and I am left with nil earthly positions, I know for sure that no one can take my testimony away from me, especially that this church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - is the same church that was organized by Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago. There are no more doubts in my mind.   I still have a lot to learn but for now I know enough.

"I love you all!  Thank's everyone for all your love, your prayers,  your emails and most of all your support.  I wouldn't have had such an awesome journey without the love and support from everyone.  I have come to learn that I love tough things, I'm the first to do tough things, I do tough things first, I am a finisher and I love being a MISSIONARY!"

Sister Nicola Chadderton
Utah, Salt Lake City, Temple Square Mission
31 July 2012 - 24 July 2013

South Carolina Columbia Mission (Outbound Experience)
24 July 2013 - 16 October 2013

Sister Nicola Chadderton
Utah, Salt Lake City, Temple Square Mission
16 October 2013 - 10 January 2014