Monday, December 22, 2014

Sharon Springs-Week 8

Christmas week is here! I hope you all are having a wonderful time with family and enjoying the Christmas season.
A lot of people are focusing on their families this time of year, so it makes missionary work a little tricky. But the ward I'm in is so amazing. The ward made sure we had a little tree in our apartment and they're taking care of us.  
We were able to go to the temple on Thursday. Our assigned session was at 7:30 am, so we had to wake up at 4:30 to get there on time. It was an early morning, but definitely worth it. Afterwards we drove to our mission offices to have lunch and to practice for the mission Christmas program. The choir (consisting of almost all the missionaries in the mission) sang several songs, a sister played a beautiful arrangement of silent night, and I accompanied the last piece-Oh Holy Night. It was a crazy day, but it was good to be with the other missionaries.
It is really beautiful to step back and at this time of year and realize that Christ really did come to this earth for us. That was the purpose for his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection. We can let him into our hearts and he will expand our capacity to love and trust and grow. It all starts with faith in Christ. In knowing that he came for us. And knowing that because of his sacrifice, we can be saved. I know that Christ is my Savior and that he came for me and you and each of us. Merry Christmas everyone! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sharon Springs - Week 7

Hello everyone!
1st transfer is complete! I'm staying in the same area and with the same companion for the first 12 weeks at least. 
We are going to the temple this week on Thursday! I am so very, very excited! Later that day there will be mission activities. There is a missionary choir concert. I'm singing in the choir and also accompanying 'O Holy Night' on the piano, with a cello and a few singers.
This ward is amazing. I'm touched every time I hear someone pray for the missionaries. Apparently, in primary, they have the children pray for us by name. As we coordinate with the ward mission leader and ward missionaries, it is amazing to realize that we are all in this together. We're all here to support and encourage one another in the Lord's work. 
I hope everyone is feeling the spirit of Christmas! College friends, I hope you are having a great break! 

Thank you, thank you to all my family and friends who are part of my Christmas calendar. Your scriptures and thoughts uplift me, and heaven knows I need it. So thank you so, so much!

A couple P-days ago, the sisters in our zone went to the mall and took a picture with Santa. We even got him to hold a Book of Mormon. :) (My companion, Sister Storrs, is above me praying. Two sisters from my MTC district, Sister Davenport-bottom right, and Sister Johns-2nd from the right, top row. It was great to see them and talk to them. They are amazing.)

Having lunch at IHOP with Eliza. Such a cute girl! She and her family are just amazing members that take care of us.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sharon Springs - Week 6

Hello everyone! It's so crazy to know I've been here for a transfer period! Because I am in training, I'll be here at least for another 6 weeks. I can't believe it's December already! I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season so far. 

We were able to watch the Christmas Devotional last night. Such beautiful messages were shared. I was impressed with the idea of the Light of Christ. That light continues to grow brighter and brighter, just like our faith. It doesn't have to stop. There is not a maximum amount of light and faith that we are allowed to have in this lift. It is limitless and endless. I'm sure most of you have already heard about this, and I might have mentioned it before, but the church has produced a video called He is the Gift. You can find it on YouTube or at The church produced this beautiful message of centering our focus back on the Savior (The music alone makes me tear up) Because he truly is the most amazing gift that we have. And it is our choice to accept and to share it. It is always there for everyone. It is a fact. He is the center of our lives. He has overcome the world. Faith in Christ is so important. It is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ encourages us to act, to repent, to see the good, to appreciate the good, to love. It all starts with faith. And it will always grow, if we want it to. Through our obedience and diligence, that faith will grow, enabling the power of God to bless our lives and the lives of others. What a beautiful thought.

Thank you to all my family and friends who have sent me little notes and letters! They uplift me and truly give me a source of comfort when I need it. Thank you all so much! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember that Christ has overcome the world. We can find peace in him. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sharon Springs - Week 5

Hello again family and friends!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This week has been great. The weather here is chilly, but it's still basically Fall. This winter will definitely be different from any I've experienced. If it snows though, the whole state basically shuts down. And people say that that might happen again this winter. So we'll see. I wouldn't mind the snow.

Sister Storrs and I had Thanksgiving dinner with a wonderful member family, the Hiltons. That is also the family that has really opened their home to one of our investigators. Member missionary work is the best. Honestly. The members can relate and teach and share and just connect in a way with investigators that we as missionaries can't necessarily. Plus they have experience in the gospel and amazing testimonies.

And this week I want to focus on the importance of the Spirit in teaching. And not just in missionary work. In everything. When the spirit is present, relationships are formed stronger and deeper than in any other setting. And the amazing thing is, when that happens we are actually building our relationship with Christ, not just the other people involved. I really feel that I can not teach people anything. All I can do is create and environment where the Spirit can teach them. Our purpose is to present information clearly and fervently, and then let the Spirit work in peoples' hearts. It is a beautiful thing. 
And every time we teach, my testimony is strengthened. I know that we have the true, restored gospel of Christ today. I know that we are led by a man called of God to be an anchor in these chaotic times. Hold fast to the truths we know. And we will find peace.

I love you all! And hope you have a wonderful week!

In the Hiltons home with their daughter, Delaney and JB, our investigator. 

Doing service for a couple. They gave us cool hats. Love it. 

One of our investigators picks up the extra/older food items from local grocery stores and then takes them to charities. Sometimes we help her by taking the stuff she can't fit in her car. We had no clue what to do with it. So we've been passing it out to members for a couple of days. Haha! Crazy stuff.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sharon Springs - Week 4

Hello again!

Sister Storrs and I have caught the stomach bug and I'm still recovering and my head is kind of foggy, so this post will be rather short. But all is well! The Lord takes care of his servants.

So this week has been great. We had Zone Conference. President Bennion and his wife spoke. They are fairly new. They've only been out 4 months. And they are amazing examples of faith in Jesus Christ and trusting in him. It is amazing to see that we are all in this work together; the mission President and his wife, companions, the members. We are all one in purpose in bringing others closer to Christ.

Something that stuck out to me during Zone Conference is that our faith is powerful. When we increase our faith, we increase the power that comes through us. Our personal faithfulness and righteousness can and does affect those around us. A very inspiring and intimidating thought. But the amazing thing is that the Lord is there. He is always, constantly there for us and we wants us to increase in faith. All we need to do is show our desire and take steps of faith. 

​A bridal shower we were able to visit.

Maybe next week I'll have more pictures! I keep forgetting to take pictures. 
Thank you for your prayers and support! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sharon Springs Week 3

Hi again!
Sorry for the generic blog/email titles. Not much time and thought for creativity on P-day. 
Sorry for the picture in the last email! It must not have been uploaded all the way before I sent it. I'll send it today. 
I can't remember what I've written in the past emails, but I'll just jump right in and write what comes to mind. 
My companion, Sister Storrs is great. She's from Louisiana. She graduated from BYU in exercise and wellness. So we definitely exercise in the mornings. Which is awesome. We wake up at 6:15 and usually go on a run. Sometimes there are sprints involved. Sometimes we stay in the apartment and do a workout. Tricep dips kill me. This morning we were able to run in the rain and that was my absolute favorite!
Georgia is gorgeous. When it rains, it seems to mist up from the ground. It's beautiful. So many trees and I love it. 
We've really been working with the ward with missionary work. It is amazing to see the ward get so involved. Members are always coming with us to lessons, or letting us teach at their home. It is so important for investigators to form that connection with a member and not just the missionaries. And eventually, we want to help them for their own connection with God so they are able to stand on their own and say 'I know this is true, no matter who or what tells me otherwise' It's been very sad to see people fall away from the church because of something somebody did a long time ago and they can't let go of it. It reminds me to constantly be aware of what I say and what I do and just who I am, because it truly does affect others around me in ways I do not know. And especially at this time, when I have been called as a representative of Jesus Christ. Amazing responsibility, but such an amazing privilege and blessing. Remember that you are an example and your faithfulness and righteousness does influence others.
I love you all! I love hearing about how you are doing.
Until next time!

​This was the picture that was supposed to send last week.   

​Sister Storrs and I contacting in a little park down our street.

​First exchange with Sister Paulson from the Coal Mountain area
         ​​Sister Storrs and I on our first P-day
Tree-lined streets of Georgia. So beautiful.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sharon Springs Ward - Week 2

This week has been great. It has consisted of teaching lessons, and visiting potential investigators, visiting members and tracting. There are so many amazing people here. Good christian people that are trying to live Christlike lives and teaching their family to do so, which is so great to see. And we, as missionaries, just want to add to that light and share the fullness of the gospel.

The restoration is an amazing thing. What a blessing it is in our lives to have the full truth and power of God on the earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was not reformed, is not a break-off, it is not a man-made religion. It is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We truly do have a prophet that has been called of God, just like Joseph Smith was, to lead this church, and the world, through these latter days. Having the importance of the restoration reiterated in my mind makes me want to cherish it. It really is a blessing from our Father in Heaven, because he loves us and wants us to return to him, and we can only do that through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Georgia-Week 1

'So here I am, safe and sound in Georgia! I've only been out for less than a week and I already love everything about it. My trainer/new companion is a hardworking, bold-talking girl from Louisianna. She is so great. My first area is amazing. The ward is very much involved in missionary work, more so than any other ward I've lived in. The members are wonderful, always feeding us and driving us around. We've been contacting and met some wonderful, interesting, sweet people. Our investigators are beautiful people that are searching for truth. And it makes me so happy to share the truth with them.
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come to 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. But this is not just a purpose specific to missionaries. It is for every single member. Two words that really stick out to me are 'invite' and 'help'. It's an interesting connection to make to realize that we can best HELP people by INVITING them to accept the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is where true happiness can be found. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for EVERYBODY. When I'm teaching investigators, I wish I could just open my heart and let them feel what I feel about this gospel. But agency is a very important part of God's plan for us and they have to decide for themselves. So all I can do is teach the principles with clarity and simplicity and let the spirit speak to their hearts. This gospel is a beautiful gift. For everyone who reads this post, please just realize how happy this gospel has made you. Please recognize the gravity of bringing souls to the truth and to Christ. I'm so grateful for all of you and for your wonderful examples and influences on my life. Keep strong and carry on my friends.'

Okay, so there's a change with sending letters and packages in this mission. They would like everything to be sent to the individual addresses of the missionaries, including packages (before, it's they've always had packages sent to the mission home/office). And then they'd like all letters and packages to be held for a week or two before transfers. So my current address for the next 6 weeks is...
4123 Preston Pointe Way
Cumming, GA 30041

Sister Newman with President & Sister Bennion

New Arrivals
Flying out of the SLC airport. What a beautiful morning.

All the missionaries from our MTC zone going to Georgia.

Pic #3-I found my favorite painting in one of the buildings at the MTC! 

This is my MTC companion, Sister Barnard.
Look who I found! (Tell his mom and family hi for me!)
I have the best Aunt ever. Thank you Aunt Lynette. I love you!
MTC district

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Heading to the MTC tomorrow!

All right friends and family. This will be the last post directly from me. I’m entering the MTC….My wonderful mother will keep this blog updated with posts from me, so stay tuned. :)

So I'm going to the MTC tomorrow! I want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope that comes from it. Because I know that it is true! I know it has blessed my life and I want to honestly and sincerely share this message of joy. I want people to feel and know that they are loved and learn of the beautiful power of the atonement and the clarity and peace that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings.
And I hope to grow as a person. I’ve had just a little experience with life, with attending BYU and massage therapy school and relationships and working. I hope I can become who I need to become so I can better serve God. I know that I have potential. I know that we all have potential to become better. I hope that I can forget myself and be humble enough to let the Lord work through me. Not only for me to become who I know I can become, but so I can reach people that He needs me to reach and influence.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”
            -1st Peter 3:15

I have hope because I know that everything will work out. I know that we are here to experience hard things. I know we are here to do the best we can do. I know that through Christ we are saved. Christ is my Savior. I know he loves me and everybody. I am in awe at the incomprehensible love that the Lord has for us. And with that love comes a hope—a hope that we will always be loved. A hope that we are always wanted and worthwhile. I know that this gospel is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know the teachings of the prophets are true. I know Joseph Smith restored this gospel to the earth. I know that the Lord works through people. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be with him again. And I say these things in my saviors name, Jesus Christ, amen. 

Farewell my friends! Keep in touch! 
 Melissa's farewell


After being set apart as a missionary

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Massage Therapy

So massage, huh?
Most people are a little curious as to why I decided to become a massage therapist and what it entails.
How it all started—After my first two semesters at BYU, I decided I wanted to get a job and work that summer. I spent a weekend in St. George, hoping to find a summer job. I applied to many places, mostly spas. I was looking for front desk/secretarial work. A couple days into applying at various places, I decided I wanted to become a massage therapist. Yes, it was rather random and a very quick decision. The best decisions I’ve made seem to be made like that. After my little weekend trip was finished, I went back to Provo and started researching massage therapy schools. Within two weeks, I’d researched different schools, their programs and costs, made my decisions and presented my plan to my parents. (Little side note here: My parents are just amazing. They are supportive and loving and trusting of me. I love them so much!)
So massage therapy school began. It was a rather rigorous program, taken over 7½ months. Classes started at 9am and ended at 5:30pm, Monday through Thursday. We learned different modalities including: Swedish, Reflexology, Cranial Sacral, Trigger-point, Structural, Hydrotherapy, Sports, Russian, Acupressure and Shiatsu. We were able to take anatomy and pathology and, let me tell you, the human body is amazing. I’ve gained such an appreciation for the body. God knows what he’s doing concerning our bodies.
A few weeks into the program, we started Saturday clinics, which is where the school provided discounted massages for the pubic. We as students were required to give 5 massages in a row every Saturday for the next consecutive 21 weekends. The last two months I was able to work in Friday clinic. It was an interesting and hard experience, but so amazing. Never before had I had the chance to work with people (my clients) to achieve the purpose they had in mind. It was so great. Learning to really listen to people, while incorporating listening to what their body says while working on them, is one of the coolest experiences.  

This is where my late night mind wanderings and philosophies on life come out. A little peek inside my mind, if you will. So enjoy reading what I think I know about life. :) 

I will never be able to write or express everything that I learned during this period in my life, but here are a few personal realizations that continue to influence who I am:
It’s one of those experiences that has so much behind it that has influenced me formed me, but what is seen is only the surface. I think that is an amazing thing. Behind what everybody says or does, are the experiences that shaped them. And we only get to see that very small part that they choose to show (and sometimes what they unconsciously show. I love it when that happens). It’s amazing and humbling to realize what people have more to them than we initially see. Friendship is an amazing thing, because you learn to love them for who they really are, not just as what they appear or initially say. When you judge someone, you cut off that opportunity to love them. So no judgments here.
Throughout this whole experience, I’ve realized that there is a higher way of living. There is so much more than we can’t even grasp in this life! I’ve learned to listen to my body and spirit. Everything is connected. Our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our beliefs, our actions, what we see, what we say, what we surround ourselves with. Our body is inextricably bound up with our spirit and our mind. I’ve learned to connect with something larger than myself. And to pay attention the tiniest details. I’ve learned to open my mind and heart. I‘ve learned to love.
As massage therapists touch is, obviously, a very significant part of our practice. If we understand how important touch is and how easy it is to communicate emotion through touch, we could help facilitate healing through out therapeutic emotional connection others.  Professional side aside, I’ve learned how much a hug can mean, how reaching out to hold someone’s hand can mean. It’s amazing that our physical bodies have the capability to touch another’s soul. It’s a sacred and beautiful thing that should be used to show love on many levels: parents, brother, sister, acquaintances, friends, spouse.  
I hope to remind people that they are important and beautiful. To remind them that life is beautiful.  People can be broken, sad and hurt. In this world of judgment, hate and pain, I want to help people realize that they are so much more, through love and acceptance. Because life is so much more. This life is here for us to actually live. We can’t do that if weighed down by whatever we let weigh us down.
We won’t find ourselves in someone else.  Living inward to establish, then outward to experience.  We must be stable in our beliefs, thoughts, opinions before we can serve others. Never as a superior, but as an equal with different understandings. This idea of self-actualization fascinates, sustains and invigorates me. Living on a higher plane, a transcendent way of living.
I hope to become more than I am. 
There is so much out there. There is a world with billions of people on it. People that have grown up in different places of the world, been in diverse situations, had many experiences and hardships, seen views of the world, formed opinions, know languages, phrases, words and had ideas that I have never even thought of before. I want to experience this, through people, with no judgment and no restrictions to hold me back from expanding my mind.
 Every experience I have will continue to open my eyes to everything I want to become.  It’s another opportunity to improve upon myself.  Always striving for better. By no means am I perfect in practicing everything that I’ve learned. But I’m so thankful the Lord has opened my eyes enough to at least see these things, if not incorporate them in my life.     

And through this life long process I want to come to know me.  I want to glimpse the potential and always strive for better. I want to find what I love. I hope to reach higher and expand and learn. I hope to be happy and truly enjoy everything that life has to offer, every moment. And help others do the same. Making connections through people, places, food, experiences, laughs, cries, the love felt and the healing and happiness that occurs by and around people who have found this peace in their life. And help people realize this same thing, and thus assist in healing them. We’re here to be happy. And happiness comes from love, comfort, peace, service, honesty, respect, vitality, self-actualization, transcendence. What a beautiful thing to be able to experience life. 


All right, here is the backstory to my deciding to go on a mission, for those of you who are interested.

First off, here’s a quick summary of my life as of late—After graduating high school, I attended two semesters at BYU. At the end of my second semester, I was accepted into the BA art program with an emphasis on illustration. Receiving that news was one of the most exciting times of my life. I was, and still am, amazed that I was accepted and so grateful that I’m provided this opportunity to attend school and learn about what I love! That summer, I enrolled at massage therapy school. (More about that indescribably amazing experience in my next post.) After graduating in December and receiving my massage therapy license, I was blessed to get a job as a massage therapist at Modifi Salon & Spa (check them out here-Tricia, the owner of the business, is an amazing lady. She was such a support as I started up my business. It has been such a blessing to work with her and the other ladies working there). I also returned to BYU and attended Winter and Spring semesters. I was fully intending to continue taking classes until I graduated. I love what I’m studying. I love my profession and my job. I loved where I was living. I found friends that love me. I met so many amazing people. My ward was amazing. I was having a great time learning and loving. The Lord truly is in every aspect of my life. He blesses me with so much. Life was good.
And then it got better.
I was visiting home from college for a weekend. May 18th (my brother’s senior piano recital). Serving a mission was the farthest thing from my mind. It wasn’t actually even in my mind at all. I attended my home stake conference where the theme was hastening the work and furthering the Lord’s kingdom. After the Saturday night session, I thought to myself, ‘Okay. Why have I not considered going on a mission?’ I remember when the announcement was made that sisters could serve at age 19 in the April 2013 General Conference, and I didn’t even consider it. I heard the announcement and it just flitted right through my thoughts. So now, I decided to actually face the question. And I realized that I was letting small fears and insecurities hold me back. This is a constant lesson I’m learning, but I realize how inhibiting fears can be. How much energy do we waste on being scared? On worrying and fretting, about whatever it may be? That energy can much better be used towards more uplifting directions in our lives. And then I realized that by putting my faith in the Savior, those fears do not matter! Yes, I believe there is a place for awareness and the right amount of stress is a very good thing. But faith in the gospel and an understanding of the Atonement of Christ puts everything into perspective and allows for those fears to be absorbed into his great and everlasting love. Once that idea was firmly stationed in my head, I decided to actually face the question of whether I should serve a mission. And the second I considered it, I knew that it was the perfectly right thing for me to do.
How important it is to learn how the spirit speaks to you! Just with my decisions to study illustration and attend BYU and massage therapy school, and I’m sure other major decision I will make in the future, a calm, peaceful, steady feeling came over me, letting me know that this is right! Nothing could ever, ever shake me once I have felt that feeling. ‘Oh, remember, remember’…I’m learning the meaning of that phrase more and more. When those insecurities and fears start to creep in, I just remember the affirmation I received when making my decision. Remember how it feels when you have the spirit testify to you! Remember and foster that feeling and many of the distractions of the adversary will be deflected. Remember that our Father in Heaven and our elder brother, Jesus Christ, loves us and wants us to be happy! Remember that the Lord has a plan for us! His timing is always the right timing. Remember that being open to the Lord’s influence in our lives allows us to have a happy and fulfilling mortal experience. I am just so grateful for the Lord’s influence in my life and am so grateful for this experience to serve a mission.