November 30, 2015

Email No. 46

Hello familia y amigos!!

This week was a good one. As usual. Thanksgiving was good. I'm still full from it and I think I have been in a turkey coma for probably about 5 days. The struggle has been real. It is convenient that we are almost out of miles because it has been forcing us to walk a lot, thereby allowing us to justify eating so much food. And all the leftovers that accompany this grand holiday.

My life seems to be just a slew of absolute hilarity, so I would like to share a couple of stories about our dearest recent- converts, Keri and Bernie:

#1- This story requires a little bit of a back story... So Keri texted us a few weeks back and said, "I feel like I have lost a part of me." It is important to note that this was about the same time that she was going through the rough part just before her baptism. Anyways, totally concerned we asked what was the matter. She told us that her fish died. We didn't really know how to respond because we couldn't really tell if she was joking around or not. Her follow up text confirmed that indeed it was a joke: "I just can't stand the thought of that I will wake up tomorrow and not see his little body just a swimmin' in
the bowl." We started dying laughing. So to proceed with the story. We were talking about sacrifice in Gospel Principles yesterday and the teacher was talking about how the people would bring the animal to the priest and then the priest would sacrifice the animal. Keri then leaned over to us and says in a very serious tone, whisper-yelling, with pauses between each word, "Here's my fish!!!!" Oh my heaven above, it was absolutely hilarious.

#2- So we were on the phone with Bernie, rescheduling an appointment that we had scheduled for the upcoming week. After chatting for a couple of minutes (Bernie loooooves to chat), he says to us, "Hey can I tell you something and you won't be mad?" A little frightened, we replied, "Suuuure...?" And then he yells, "I love ya!!!" We started dying laughing and told him that we love him too. I don't know if I said it or not, but Bernie has a habit of calling us nick names such as "honey" and "babe" and "baby sister" and "sweetheart". It is quite funny.

Both of them are doing absolutely fantastic. Bernie, due to his age, has a hard time staying at church. Just the first hour is a struggle for him. But. He is continually learning. This past week when we met with him, he bore testimony that he knew that this was Christ's church and that he did the right thing. He told us of numerous miracles that he had seen through out the week bearing testimony to him that he is doing the right thing. He is also one of the greatest missionaries. He tells people all the time that he is a Mormon now and people give less than positive remarks to him. To which he responds, "You can't say anything until you read the Book, talk with the girls, and then pray and come to church. That's how I did it. You need to do that too. Until then, you don't know anything." It is awesome. I can't wait to hang out with him in the eternities.

Keri is equally doing amazing. It is so cool to see how she has  changed. Her whole countenance is brighter. She is constantly, as she was before she was baptized, taking notes, asking questions, repenting. She is a very special spirit and is so in tune with the Holy Ghost. We taught her about temples this past week and she is really excited to go.

This past week, as I mentioned last week, I got to go on exchange with Sister Duncan. We didn't stop laughing the whole time. She is such a light and example to me and I am so excited to be serving around her again.

Thanksgiving was great. We went onto the island to one of the member's homes. Crazy thing. So this member that we had dinner with is the family of one of Kinnon Priest's last companions. Crazy, huh? It was really fantastic. Then we were invited to another member's home (Sister Eldredge) which was an hour away. I had to blast hymns to stay awake. The Eldredge's are fantastic and we had really good time with them.

Important detail before I tell you the rest of my Thanksgiving. The night before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Eve, if you will, we went to bed with the heater because it was cold. I woke up at about 3 a.m., freezing. I went and turned up the heat. But when the alarm went off Thanksgiving morning, it was colder than it was at 3! So I went over to the heater and it was set for 70 but it was at a very chill 59. We tried to make it work, but the "click click click" of the base board heaters never happened, so we had to assume that it was broken. We informed our land lord (turns out the oil was gone) and then we asked the elders if we could borrow some blankets in their apartment because we didn't know how long it would take to for the heater to be fixed and we arranged to borrow a space heater from a member. Anyways. So that night, the elders were over at the Bernard's for Thanksgiving (one of their many). So we went over to that member's house to grab the blankets from the elders. Somehow in the 2 minutes we had been there, we got pulled into accepting a challenge where you have to eat 6 saltine crackers and then whistle, all in one minute. Let's just say that I totally failed. It was a grand ol' time though.

Yesterday was cold. It was wicked cold. It was probably between 20-25, which is bearable, but there was a very strong, bitter cold wind. We had bundled all up and were walking around downtown Ellsworth, street contacting people. We started talking to this man and this woman. We gave them "A Savior is Born" card (which I will talk more about) and when I did this, I noticed that she didn't have any gloves on. I asked if she had gloves, to which she kind of shamefully looked down and admitted that she didn't own a pair. So I took off the two pairs I had on and gave them to her. She asked if I was sure and I said yes and made the joke that my hands were cold anyways with them on (which they were). So we kept on going and this is the really cool part: not only were my hands not cold anymore, but they were warm to the touch. And they were for the next hour that we were out in the cold, dark night. Now how does that make sense? When I had my gloves on, my fingers were freezing and I just couldn't seem to make them warm. But then, when I didn't have gloves on, not only were they not cold, but they were warm! Miracles I tell you, miracles.

Now, you may say, "Sister Sewell, 'I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.'" But I would respond as Ammon did, "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

If I had to pick a verse of scripture that describes how I feel, it would be that. I am nothing. But He is everything. The Lord truly does qualify him whom He calls. And let me tell you, there is a lot of qualifying that needs to happen with this girl.

I actually want to share a story about that. So a couple weeks ago, we were helping a member paint her house. I was sitting on the ground painting lower to the ground, when her adorable little 4 year-old came up to me and said that he wanted to help. So his mom let him hold the paint brush with me while I put the paint onto the wall (in a very similar fashion to the way that Karate Kid did when he was painting Mr. Miagee's, or however you spell it, fence haha). Anyways, as we were doing this together, he looked up at his mom and said with the biggest smile on his face, "Look mom! I'm painting! I'm painting! This is so cool!" To which she responded, "Yes! Look at you! I am so proud of you! You are so awesome to let Sister Sewell help you paint." This reminded me of how I am in my missionary work. I am helping God with his purpose, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Now, He is the one holding the paint brush, but He is allowing me to hold on with Him. Thereby, allowing me to feel the joy of helping bring souls to Christ. I don't know if that made sense, but you get the general idea.

This Christmas season has been my favorite so far and it has only just begun. Being able to testify of Christ at this time is the best thing that I have ever been a part of. For those who haven't heard, there is a new video that came out yesterday, "A Savior is Born". It is absolutely fantastic. Please go and watch it. And share it! It can be found on

I know that my Savior lives. I know that He suffered for every single one of us. I know that His only desire is for us to come home and feel joy and this can only be accomplished through living his gospel and a part of that is keeping our covenants. He has become my best friend, the only person who has been where I have been. He gives my family relationships meaning and my friendships are made deeper. In summary, He is everything to me. The more I learn, the more I realize that this is it. This gospel, this is what this life is all about. And we can only come to know that for ourselves. That is why the invitation is to "Come follow me". It's not "Follow the person who is following me". We can and should have a direct relationship with Christ and again the emphasis on the importance of making covenants is being made. Covenants are how we draw close to Christ. I have said this before and I will say it again, for those who haven't made covenants, make them. For those who have, keep them. If you don't know what that means ask the missionaries. The hand is extending, we need to grab it.

I love you all. Keep the faith and remember.

Sister Grace Sewell

Also. Minor little detail that I forgot to mention.


November 23, 2015

Email No. 45

Heeeeellllloooooooooo people that are reading this!!!!!!

I feel really goofy today (when do I not?) and so I might be a little weird. Wait. That is every week. LOLZ.

First things first. Guess who our new sister training leader is??? SISTER DUNCAN!!!! I think I blew out her ear when I heard her on the phone. We are going to be going on exchanges tonight until Wednesday after district meeting. We will be staying here in Ellsworth, so I am pretty excited about it.

On Thursday, we went to Food for All, like we always do. But this past week was their Thanksgiving celebration. Here is a summary of what I learned:
#1- Your hands get really wrinkly and oily after washing dishes for 8 hours.
#2- I like lamb.
#3- I do not like lamb with mint jelly which is apparently a delicacy here. Blech. Never again.
#4- I will never complain about doing Thanksgiving dishes again because #300 people. Enough said.

Thankfully (see what I did there? Lolololol), I love all the people there, so the company was good and entertaining.

I think I said this a week or so ago, but Sister Hoopes and I felt very strongly that we needed to drop all of our investigators that are not progressing. The sisters had been teaching them for a while and it was keeping us from having finding time. The investigators that were progressing have both been baptized, so we now do not have a teaching pool. But! We have made some very good, inspired goals and plans to meet with less-actives and to find through them. We are both going to strive to be more exactly obedient, especially when it comes to planning and our companionship studies. We ask you if you could pray that the Lord will put in our path those who are searching for truth.

I wish I could tell you all that happened this week, but honestly, it doesn't matter. All I can say is that this week was one for the books and I learned a lot. I learned a lot about faith and doubt this week. This past week, a sister in the branch told us a story that taught me a lot. It went a little something like this:
Satan was having a yard sale. One of his minions was shopping around and came upon a table that was filled to the brim with weapons of all kinds: an ax was anger, a ball with chains was malice, a sword pride, and so on and so forth. All of these were 10 cents, 5 cents, a dime a dozen. But then the minion got to the end of the table and there was a solitary triangle- shaped wooden block. This one was $50. The minion asked what this was and why it was so much more expensive than all the others. Satan replied, "That is a wedge, meant to split wood. And that is doubt. With that, you can destroy souls."

Never ever doubt. Through personal experience, I have seen what it does to someone. It stops you. It allows fear to come in and fog and haze any spiritual prompting that comes to your heart. You begin to wonder if you ever really even knew; you begin to drift from the truths that you knew; you suddenly become petrified and are unable to continue. And it can be the most frightening experience that a person can go through.

So we must gear ourselves with the equipment that will combat this wedge of doubt. The equipment is a knowledge of the gospel. We must "put on the whole armor of God." I am reminded of the scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants that says:

  "Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.  Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;  Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all
the fiery darts of the wicked;  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. Amen."

Hold to truth. Cling to the gospel. Remember the Lord and our Heavenly Father love you. You are watched over. He has been, is, and forever will be here for you and me. I know this to be true. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for us and that He is cheering for us. But more than that, He will always be by our side, but we need to take the hand that is "stretched out still".

I know I usually end my email with hymn lyrics, but there are few other things that help me feel of the love of Christ, than listening to, and studying hymns. So I leave you with one that describes my week:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
Chart and compass came from thee;
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist’rous waves obey thy will
When thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on thy breast,
May I hear thee say to me,
“Fear not; I will pilot thee.”

Sister Grace Sewell

November 16, 2015

Email No. 44

Hello hello hello family!!!

So. Our iPads broke. More specifically our AreaBook. My recollection of what happened this past week down to about zero. Planning has become quite difficult, but nothing that we can't handle. We don't have any paper planners so we are using the good ol' calendar app.

But, Keri did end up getting baptized!!!! We met with her last Monday and it ended up that she went to a "College Days" somewhere in Maine.  She had brought her Book of Mormon with her and apparently a professor saw it and pulled her aside and proceeded to tell her the craziest anti-Mormon things I have ever heard in my life. We met with her that night and smoothed things out and she walked away feeling a lot better. But then. We woke Saturday morning. I looked at the phone just before we started exercising and we saw that we had received a couple texts from her. I won't say what she said, but basically one of her friends had emailed her a ton of anti-literature and she no longer wanted to be baptized because she was confused. Sister Hoopes and decided that it would be prudent to meet with her and see what happened. What commenced was the most amazing lesson. We went over and talked it over. Sister Hoopes and I prayed that we would have the Spirit with us. We went in and talked and it was amazing. The Spirit always directed us towards the Book of Mormon. By the end, we asked Keri, "So what do you want to do?" She said that she wanted to be baptized. She then gave the closing prayer and in it she said, "I know that I don't have a lot of light yet, but I have enough to move
forward and get baptized." The baptism was beautiful and she was so excited. I cannot wait to see what she does in Christ's church.

I love this gospel and the longer that I am a missionary, the more I love it. I have grown and learned and I dread the day that I have to come home. I hit my ten month mark this past week and I feel like the months are going by faster and faster. Sister Hoopes and I were talking with some elders today about how missions change you and then we talked about the Atonement. It seems that my thoughts and conversations are always directed towards the topic of the Savior. And I love it.

I feel as though I will never be the same. Watching the Atonement change me and change those around me has been the best experience of my life. I used to think that the Atonement soul just fill in the gaps of where I mess up. And I realized that that is not what the Atonement is. As Brad Wilcox says, "Christ doesn't make up the difference; He makes all the difference." If I could pick a hymn this week of how I feel it would be "Come Thou Fount":

Come, thou Fount of every blessing;
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount; I'm fixed upon it:
Mount of thy redeeming love.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, as a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for thy courts above.

I love you all. Remember who you are.

Sister Grace Sewell

November 09, 2015

Email No. 43

Hello! Hello! Hello! 

Greetings from Maine! A little update on the weather here ... I have never experienced fall before in my life and after experiencing all four seasons I now have the ability to say that fall (with winter as a close second) is my favorite season. Filled with soul-warming soup, glowing fires, crispy nights and falling leaves. Summed up in a word: yes. Yes to Fall! I love it. The leaves are gorgeous, the feeling is amazing and believe it or not, I love the wind that is here. It's awesome. And after experiencing a Maine winter I feel like I have the right to say that I also love winter. Even though it is "freeze-your-rear-end-off" cold (literally and figuratively), I love it. It's a lot different than Arizona and I can't say that is is a bad different. For those who know me, know that I do not like the heat and really don't do that well in it (#fairskinnedfolyfe). So now that the leaves have all fallen off the trees and they are, as Sister Hoopes say, "naked", I'm ready to see them sprinkled with that awesome white stuff, more commonly known as "snow". We can now see the street from our study room window because all the leaves are gone. You would have never guessed we lived in the city (by New England definition) before the leaves were gone. But, alas we do. Now bring on the snow. 

I am happy to report that after a whole week (again) of being sick, Sister Hoopes and I have both finally recovered from the Black Plague. It was a close one, but we made it. The majority of the comments that were made from the members involved, "Wow! You sisters are back from the dead!" It was pretty bad. Now, we are trying to get back in the groove of things, I'm trying to not beat myself up for being up "bad trainer", and Sister Hoopes has now spent 2 of her 5 weeks out in the mission field on her death bed. Whoops. And unfortunately, since I am better I had to get a flu shot at the flu shot clinic that the mission nurse had for the missionaries at zone conference on Friday. Even though I am legally an adult (and almost not a teenager. what.) and I can sign all my own legal papers and stuff, I have finally felt like an adult when I got the flu shot without tears and with out my mom. Go me. Look mom! I'm a big girl now! So I took a picture of the moment that I became an adult. I called the sheet they gave me to say that I got my flu shot my "I'm an Adult Certificate". Pictures to follow. 

Again, not a whole ton happened this week because, again, we were both sick. But, we did gather up enough energy to go out and teach a couple lessons to Keri. They both went really super well. She is learning a lot and is just getting things. We are so proud of her. But then we texted her on Saturday to see if she was coming to stake conference. She said that she wouldn't be able to due to her sister coming into town and she also said that she had a couple of questions. She asked them and the questions themselves don't matter, but what matters is that on Facebook someone had thrown some pretty serious anti-Mormon things at her and due to Keri's delicate nature, it really shook her up. We asked if we could meet with her so we set up a time to meet today (Monday) and talk about some things. But Sister Hoopes felt like we needed to address her questions via email so we can send her to links, videos, etc. So we used our very convenient emails and sent her an email answering all her questions. She still felt a little uneasy after reading the email so we ask that you pray for her. She is still planning on getting baptized on Saturday, so we will talk things out with her and make sure she is okay. 

I have to say that this past weekend was "General Conference status" spiritually up lifting. First, all day Friday, we were trained by Elder Nielson (member of the Quorum of the Seventy) and then on Saturday we had the Adult Session of Stake Conference and then Sunday was, well, the Sabbath and there General Session of Stake Conference, but I also had a really amazing experience that I will tell after all this. The reason why this weekend was so amazing was beck I drew closer to my Savior. I learned more about the Atonement and it just made me feel really super happy. 

I guess I'll start with Friday. We were given travel plans by our zone leaders to leave our apartment Friday morning at 4:50 a.m. and drive to Brewer (hour away), pick up the Brewer sisters and then drive to Portland (2 hours away) and arrive there at 7:40. Thursday night, Sister Hoopes and I went to bed at about 10 and we planned to wake up at 4. We showered the night before so we didn't have to worry about all that jazz. When it was still dark out, my body immediately woke up. I thought to myself, Oh, it must almost be time to wake up! So I looked at the clock.  2:45 a.m. 2:45 a.m.  2:45 a.m. !!!!!!! I was upset. So my fury just kept me awake until the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. 
and then we commenced on our journey to Portland, Maine.

Before the general meeting began, we had a "sisters meeting". In this meeting, Sister Nielson talked to us about something none of us were expecting: marriage. What. It was actually really beautiful the way she talked about it. She applied it directly to us as sisters who are serving missions. She gave us some advice, and one of the one-liners that she gave us was, "Don't marry a project." We can't change people. She emphasized the importance of marrying someone who is as spiritually mature as we are. Which I greatly appreciated. She also spoke about the importance of being a team with your eternal companion and that the core of the gospel is to create an eternal family. She said that on our missions, if we are humble enough, we will learn how to be a better mothers and wives and we will learn how to create an eternal, Christ-centered home. It was beautiful. 

Next we were trained by President and Sister Stoker, and Sister Nielson. And then for the next about 5 hours, we were trained by Elder Nielson. For the first about 2 1/2 we talked about the Atonement, which was incredible. We first spent the first part of that time talking about how the Atonement applies to us as individuals and then we spent the next part talking about how we can help our investigators access the Atonement and what our role in that is. After a wee bit of a lunch break we spent the next about hour and a half talking about finding new investigators through less-actives and then had a Q&A with Elder Nielson. I have to say that two of my favorite experiences as a missionary is have a Q&A with a General Authority. Once with Elder Hallstrom and then another with Elder Nielson. It was beautiful and I don't think I cold replicate everything that was said and felt. 

On Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference and it was beautiful. The Spirit was so strong and an added bonus was that I got to see a ton of people from Dover. Serving in the same stake your whole mission has its definite perks. Tiny tangent real quick... Before my mission I dreaded spending more that 3 months in an area. My worst nightmare was spending my whole mission in the same state, not even thinking that serving in the same stake my whole mission was a possibility. But then at the beginning, I was told that that does happen sometimes and I was so scared that that was going to happen to me. Ten months later, I can say that I never want to leave Maine and I never want to leave the Bangor Stake. I love the people here so much. I know every missionary everywhere says that, but I really mean it. My brethren and sisters here residing in Maine have become some of the dearest people that I know. 

Yesterday, Sister Hoopes and I had a day that was very.... Strange. We were really feeling Satan work on us and we both felt the very strong impression that we needed priesthood blessings. We received them and all I can say is that I have such a strong testimony of priesthood blessings. They are truly the words that God wants His children to hear and I will cherish the blessing that I received yesterday forever. 

Again, I don't think that I could replicate or explain everything that I learned and felt and I don't think that that is Heavenly Father's intention for me to share with you. What I can and do share is my testimony with you all that I know that my Savior lives. I know that so clearly. I have seen His hand in my life. But what has really grown my testimony of His reality is watching the Atonement work in others' lives. I've seen the sick be healed. I have seen the weary become strengthened. I have seen the hopeless come to have hope and the guilty-stricken find relief. The common theme in all of the miracles I've seen is Christ. He is the One. He is the One who can heal, succor, uplift, strengthen. There is no other man. There is no other person. There truly is "no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord" (Mosiah 3:17). He is the Christ. He is the Savior. He is the One who the prophets have testified would lift our burdens and carry our sorrows. He really truly did say, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The eternal invitation is "Come unto Christ."  "I believe in Christ. So come what may!" I know that my Savior lives and I know that it is Him that I represent. 

Right now, I have no other desire than to have everyone that I know to know that as well. There is peace. There is hope. It's not all dreary. It's not all dark. My heart, right now, as I am writing this, is bursting. It is almost bringing me to tears. I just want everyone to know. And I am sorrowing with the original apostles, with Alma and Amulek, with Ammon and all the sons of Mosiah, with Moroni and Mormon. Why am I sorrowing? "For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure." I see this and I sorrow. "And from this time the disciples began to sorrow for the sins of the world."   "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." 

But the "glad tidings of great joy" is that we have it. We have what everyone is looking for. It's here! In the fullness! Let us toss aside our fears. Let us rise above who we are and become who we were intended to be. Let us become faithful servants of the Lord filled with faith, hope, and charity. I would like to close with the words of Joseph Smith:

"Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.

"Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!

"Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.

"Brethren, I have many things to say to you on the subject; but shall now close for the present, and continue the subject another time. I am, as ever, your humble servant and never deviating friend,"

Sister Grace Sewell 

November 02, 2015

Email No. 42


This week was quite uneventful. Mostly due to the fact that I was lying on my death bed the whole week. Fevers, chills, aches and the fountain of youth (or mucus lol) coming out of my nose. In summary, no bueno. I spoke with the mission nurse and informed her of my deadly disease and asked her to tell my family goodbye for me (#drama #iknow) to which she assured me that, no I wasn't dying and that over half the mission had/has what I had. It was apparently not the Black Plague, but rather a pretty nasty cold virus that was sweeping over the whole of New England. I still like my story better that I got the Black Plague. Unfortunately, all of the people we are teaching got it, so no one was at church. Major bummer. Now, as expected, Sister Hoopes caught it and is sick.

Even though nothing happened this past week, there is something that is coming up that I am beyond pumped about. We have a special zone conference coming up this Friday! Elder Nielson of the Seventy and his wife will be visiting our mission! Awesome, huh? Details on that next week. Stay tuned...

As I was contemplating what I should write, considering nothing happened this week, this story really stood out as one I feel everyone will benefit from.... So Halloween night is not a night that missionaries stay out. So our mission does something called "Deep Clean Halloween" where everyone has to be in by 5 and we spend the next four hours deep cleaning our apartment: throwing out old stuff, organizing, etc. I have been wanting to do that since I got here, but never got around to it. So we cleaned and it looks amazing now. During part of the cleaning, we found twinkly lights. I love twinkly lights. So we hung them up in every room and now, we don't use our lights anymore, we just use the twinkly lights. It is awesome. It is so much more peaceful. Moving on, every Sunday night, our district leader calls us for "call-ins". It is a call where we give an accounting of the week's work. So during call-ins last night, I was the one talking because Sister Hoopes was dying. As I was speaking with Elder Iverson, I saw a shadow move near our twinkly lights way up in the corner. I looked up there and saw nothing, so I kept talking. But then, moments later, the biggest shadow of a giant bug appeared on the wall. It was at least six inches long. We didn't see the bug, but we saw its legs and antennas twitching around, so I immediately started screaming and pointing and then Sister Hoopes saw it and started screaming and Elder Iverson was oblivious to the whole event because he was sick and couldn't hear and we were freaking out and then the bug moved away from the light. And we saw it. It was a ladybug. It. Was. A ladybug. A LADYBUG. Needless to say we freaked out about nothing. (What do you expect when two redheads are companions?!) So we both started laughing at ourselves, but since we both still have a nasty cough, we both started coughing and then we were laughing about that and then continued to cough. It was pretty funny. Oh! You thought that story was going to be an amazing story? Nope. Tricked ya. Pretty funny though, right? Okay. Here is the real cool thing: 

So because my marching orders were to not leave the apartment, I had a lot of time to study. There are a couple of things that I learned  In preparation for the zone conference, we were given a couple of talks to study, ponder and pray about. One was "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality" by Elder Bednar in the April 2012 Ensign (which I haven't gotten around to reading yet) and the other was the conference talk by Elder Bednar "Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease" from April 2014. Last night, I studied the last talk. It was probably one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I kid you not. Sister Hoopes was asleep and so I had a cd playing by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "This is The Christ". And the Spirit kept telling me to read the talk, so I did. Reading an amazing talk + listening to songs about the Savior = most amazing experience ever. Let's just say I took eight pages of notes on it. Open the flood gates of revelation. It was beautiful. I wish I could adequately describe everything that I learned, but most of it was internal. Bear with me as this is long. But here I go: 

Making and keeping sacred covenants is central to us being able to more fully access the Atonement. Covenants are promises that we make with God. One covenant that we make is made at baptism. At baptism we promise to take upon Jesus Christ's name and "always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given" (see Moroni 4:3). When we we make covenants, we become yoked to Christ (see Matthew 11: 28-30). Elder Bednar explains that "A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals that enables them to pull together on a load. A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task." 

Pause. I have been typing and retyping, trying to convey the message that I so long for all of you to hear and know, but I am not successful. So I ask for your forgiveness. I realize that I am inadequate, so I pray that the Spirit teaches you what you need to know. 

Anyways. Elder Bedanr explains the principle of covenant-making and the importance of it this way: "Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. ... Note the centrality of covenants to the promise of deliverance. Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21)." 

So. To all those who have made covenants: keep them. To those that haven't: do it. There is greater peace and greater blessings that come. Life is easier and so much better that way. Getting along with others becomes easier. Knowing how to parent your children becomes easier. Your relationships become more meaningful. Your views of the world become soften and the ability you have to endure hardships will increase. Covenants aren't just something we do because it is a commandment. It is a commandments because Heavenly Father knows that that is how we can come back to Him! Thus, commandments are a manifestation of God's love for us, not a way to tie us down to rules and regulations to make our lives miserable.  

As a missionary, my purpose is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism,  receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end." A big part of what we do is bringing people to the waters of baptism. But it is not just us going around saying, "Hey! Get baptized or else you are going to be miserable!" It's more than that. All missionaries everywhere are helping others become yoked with the Savior so that they can become everything who God intends and knows we can become. To me, now my purpose has more meaning. 

Another thing I learned is in regards to prayer. I want to preface this by saying that I have never truly understood prayer. I just didn't get it. I would pray occasionally, but I didn't like to because I didn't feel anything. I didn't get the point. I have studied prayer my whole mission, but it wasn't until yesterday that I got it. I get it now. And here it is. 

This month is common for people to want to not ask for anything in their prayers. They want to be more grateful. But, I also know that Heavenly Father wants to be a part of our life. There are children we want to ask for guidance how to help. Friends who are struggling that we want to pray for. Parents who are ill. Things for we don't understand. So my biggest questions was, how can I be grateful, but at the same time not ask for things even though I am in need and need to pray for our investigators? Here is what I learned and hopefully may help some of you: we don't have to ask for things during our prayers. For example, instead if saying, "help me to have greater patience." We can say, "What can I do to develop greater patience?" This shows greater desire to act on the revelation we receive and greater faith, Heavenly Father's answer will be a lot more clear if we do this. So don't ask for things. Ask for guidance. This is more grateful. 

Now. We know that things don't always work out the way that we think they should or expect them to despite us following the revelation that we received. So. Give an accounting to the Lord, through that you can receive further guidance. But we must remember that we will not receive the answer right away. Let Him know that you will keep trying. For example say, "Heavenly Father. I followed the counsel you gave, but I still don't understand. But I'm going to keep trying." We must also recognize that we cannot and will not ever change the Lord's mind or will. In the Bible Dictionary we read, "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." 

Another thing. I think the reason why prayer is becoming more understandable to mess because I am understanding on a deeper level my relationship with God. "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship." Never forget the relationship that we have with God. He loves us. He just wants to be part of our lives. 

Brothers and sisters. I love my mission. I'm becoming who God knows I am. I am coming to understand myself and the role that I have. I am also learning all that about others as well. Remember last conference when they spoke on how there is a difference between knowing the dance steps and hearing the music? (If you don't, go to website at the bottom) Well. I'm hearing the music. And it's the most beautiful song I've ever heard and I will never be the same. 

Love you all. 

Sister Grace Sewell

October 27, 2015

Email No. 41

I would like to preface this email by saying that I am sick. WARNING: things said in this email may not be what I really think. 

Well another week down. Don't know how I feel about it. The only quote that keeps coming to mind is from Hannah Montana: "Life's what you make it, so let's make it rock." 

This week was phenomenal. I think the real highlight was that BERNIE DONE GOT BAPTIZED. Amazing amazing amazing. He told us that he wants to come up laughing and sure enough he did. There is truly nothing better than watching someone you have come to love make sacred covenants with the Lord. You've seen them struggle to understand truths and to build their testimonies. But you've also seen their eyes light up when they feel and know what they have been taught is true. There is truly nothing better, I love teaching people the gospel because I love to watch people, through the Holy Ghost come to know for themselves that this church is true. Right after Bernie was confirmed, I looked around and almost everyone in the congregation was crying and President Riggs got up and said anyone who has had a 30 second conversation with Bernie can't help but love him. And it's true. Everybody should know Bernie. 

This past week, Sister Hoopes and I have really been focusing on using every minute that the Lord has given us and he it to its fullness. That included dropping almost all of our investigators. Which is sad, but we felt very strongly that the Lord will help us to find those that are truly searching. 

We taught Keri and let me just say that she is the most incredible person ever. Last week, we taught her about the law of chastity (absolutely no problem) and tithing (also no problem). We asked if she had prayed about Joseph Smith and she said that she had. She said, "He is a prophet. He could not have done what he did if he wasn't. I know he is a prophet of God." Now. I'm going to let you all know that I lack faith. Really I do. I was thinking about it and I though to myself, Every person I have ever taught has something that comes up that really tries their faith, I wonder what Keri's is? Anyways, last night, we taught her the word of wisdom. We explained what it was and she said, "Oh. I have to drink black tea." I instantly thought, Great! There is is! Oh ye of lite faith am I right? She went on to say, "But. I am willing to live it. God knows what is best for me so I will do it. It's an opportunity for my faith to grow." What. She is amazing. 

Well. As always. I never have enough time. I love you all. Keep the faith and remember who you are. 

Sister Grace Sewell 

October 19, 2015

Email No. 40


Well. So I totally failed at writing things down that happened through the week (grimace emoji) so I will be going off of memory. 

Keri came to church! Again! She is so excited to be baptized. She keeps telling us. I told her that her baptism will be a few days before my birthday and she goes, "Perfect! This will be my present to you. Just kidding. This is a present to Jesus and myself." It was awesome to know that she is getting baptized because she wants to. Not for us missionaries! Now it's just about getting fellowshippers which won't be as hard. This branch is awesome about that. Even yesterday, Keri was going to sit with us, but then a sister in the branch ran over to Keri and said, "Why don't you sit with me?!" It was incredible. Super super amazing things are happening folks. 

Bernie is doing really really well. I sat next to him yesterday during sacrament meeting and he was asking all sorts of questions. He tells EVERYONE that he is going to be Mormon. He tells us all the time that when he tells people, they make some kind of anti remark and then he tells them that if they want to say those kinds of things, they have to read the Book of Mormon first, then pray about it, then talk to us. Then they can make judgements. Have you ever seen an 81 year-old, about-to-be-member do missionary work? I have. And it's the coolest, most powerful thing ever. 

I wanted to share something that I learned today in my studies. I was reading in Mosiah 4:19 and came across the verse that reads:

 "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" 

Isn't that beautiful? "Are we not all beggars?" I love that question. It really makes me think. It reminds me who I am and helps me love others. Really, it reminds me of my Savior. And I love my Savior! And He loves everyone else, including me. And it's kind of like when someone you really care about has another person that means a lot to them, so you also care for that person. That wasn't explained very well. Let's say it this way: Let's say I have a friend named Jane. She is the nicest, most thoughtful, most giving person I have ever met. She has served me better than anyone else and I always tell her that I will do anything to repay her. She has sacrificed a lot in my behalf and I love her for it. Jane has a significant other, John. But John, a long time ago, did something to hurt my feelings and I have never forgiven him for it. But Jane, the person so I have told I would do anything to repay her, asks me to forgive John and to accept him. She tells me she knows that he has weaknesses, but everyone does. How would it make Jane feel if I just said, "No. I don't care how you feel about him. He's a loser and a jerk and I'll never forgive him no matter how much you love him." ? I think Jane would begin to question how much I really care about her. But let's look at the more positive side. Let's say I told Jane, "You want to know what? I will. There must be something that you, who I think incredibly high of, see, that I don't. I will forgive him. Who knows? I may end up thinking he is pretty legit." Does that make sense? Here's the principle in a small phrase: "As I have loved you (and him and her and they), love one another." 

Sister Grace Sewell