Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dear Family! (11/9)

   I think of all the emails that I have written throughout my mission. this would have to be the hardest one of all. I really don't know what to say. How do I even put into words what I am feeling or try to sum up the multitude of experiences that I have had throughout the past 18 months. As I reflect on my time here in New Zealand I can't believe how truly blessed I am been. My testimony has grown more than I could ever have imagined. I know without a doubt that the message I have been sharing is true. We have a Heavenly Father that loves us. We are His children and He wants us to be happy. Jesus Christ is our Savior and it doesn't matter what has happened in the past. As long as we choose to follow Him now, everything can be left behind. I have seen numerous people change their lives and I have been strengthened by the testimonies of those who made these changes many years ago and continue in faithfulness. The Book of Mormon is true and  Joseph Smith is a prophet. We can be together as families forever. This is the true church and I know that now more than ever before. 

  Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. I have missed each of you dearly and I am excited that we will be reunited soon. This is all I have to say and I say it with a heart overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you all! 

(for the last time as a missionary) 
Sister Simkins

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dear Family! (11/2)

  Where to begin?! We had an amazing week! Everything is falling into place and I am so exited about it. All of our hard work is finally paying off and it is the best feeling. 

  Our first successes are from the members in our ward. They are amazing because they have finally caught our vision and they have taken it and ran with it. Our Bishop brought a few less-actives up to the VC for us to teach, a few families have come up for us to teach and strengthen them and they left committed to bring more people up, and other members have brought up their non-member friends and family and we have just had so many amazing lessons. I love teaching the gospel. I really think that it is my favorite thing to do. 

   Along with all of the great success we are having with our ward, we had a miracle to top all miracles this week! We were doing some online teaching in our office at the VC when Sister Hawkins came in and told us that this girl had come in and walked right up to her and said "I have been going to church for a couple of years with my ex-boyfriend, I know it's true, I am ready to meet with missionaries because I want to get baptized" so come teach her. Sister Perry and I looked at each other in shock and we rushed out to teach her. Her name is Soklang and she is the cutest thing ever. She's in her early 20's and she's from Cambodia. Her parents are Buddhist but she was dating a member of the church for about three years and he pretty much taught her everything but she never wanted to be baptized. They broke up four months ago and she said that last week she was going through a really tough trial a and she prayed for help and as she was praying she got the impression she needed to be baptized she promised Heavenly Father that if He would help her, than she would get baptized. She said He helped her but in a very unexpected way and she now she is here to meet with missionaries and keep her promise. We started teaching her the Restoration but she pretty much taught us most of it because she already knew it all. She said that her parents don't mind her getting baptized but they aren't the most supportive so she doesn't want any visits at home, she just wants to have all the lessons at the VC. We checked her address to find out what ward she is in and she is in another ward in out stake so we have gotten in touch with the members of the ward and they are all really supportive. At the end of the lesson she said "So what is the earliest that I can be baptized? I already have gone to church for a couple of years, I know it is true, and I know this is what I want for my life." We told her that she should pray about a date and that whatever date she chose we would be there to help her get ready for it. Well she came back a day later for another lesson and she said that she wants to be baptized on the 8th of November. That's next Saturday aka the last Saturday of my mission! I can't believe it we have a baptism and the last Saturday of my mission! I couldn't be more excited!!!! I just feel so blessed. We have taught her a couple more lessons and I can't believe how prepared she is. I already love her so much. 

   I couldn't be more please with the way things are going at this point and I am so excited to see what else happens here. I love this country and I love being a missionary!!!

Sister Simkins

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear Family, (10/26)

    Last Monday we were on shift at the VC and this family from our ward brought in another family from our ward where the husband isn't a member. It's a bit confusing but the Dennis Family brought in the Davis Family and Brother Davis isn't a member. We had briefly met Brother Davis before and he seemed very cold towards us. Sister Perry and I had no idea what we were going to share with them but we both felt that we should't put the attention on him. We decided to create a normal family home evening environment and so in the Christus room we sat on the benches, sang a primary song, had an opening prayer, and then had an amazing discussion about the Savior. We played the narration and you could feel the spirit settle on everyone like a thick warm blanket. We asked everyone what they felt as they listened to the words and Brother Davis said that the word that just came to him over and over was "Believe" we were stunned because I thought that was such a powerful word. After that we went into the theater and watched "Because of Him" and "God's Plan for the Family" and by the end of these two movies everyone was in tears. I cannot describe to you the spirit that was in that room. Brother Dennis (who home-teaches the Davis family) stood up and bore his testimony and he was pretty emotional. He bore the majority of his testimony in Maori which was the coolest thing to hear. I love the maori language and I think it is so beautiful. At the conclusion of Brother Dennis' testimony, Brother Davis looked at him and said "Kia Ora" which literally means "be well" or is the maori way of saying thank you. I could tell that his heart has softened so much where the gospel is concerned. Sister Perry and I both felt not to push anything so we ended the lesson with another prayer. After the prayer the families stayed at the VC and they looked around talked, and laughed and Brother Davis' entire continuance changed. I consider this a miracle. He may not be ready to get baptized next week but because of the lesson he took a huge step closer towards accepting the gospel. 

    I came down with a bad cold starting Friday night. I thought at first it was just allergies because it is spring here but we were on shift at the VC and as the night wore on I just felt worse and worse. As we were preparing for the next day Elder Hawkins explained that Saturdaymorning we had a group of 100 primary kids coming in and that we needed to be prepared for them. After hearing this one of the other sisters that we were on shift with asked if we wanted to switch shifts. I thought about it and it sounded like the best thing to do so we switched. When we came in for out shift Saturday night we found out that a man from the Church Area Office in Auckland was coming down to screen Meet the Mormons in preparation for the Area Presidency to watch it and because we were on shift we would get to watch it too! I was so excited but I felt really bad a the same time because the other sisters had switched us and then they wouldn't be able to see the movie. I was so happy that we got to watch it though because it was so good! I loved every minute of it and it made me even prouder to be a mormon. If I hadn't been sick I wouldn't have been able to watch the movie. I count this as a tender mercy. 

  That is pretty much my week. I love and miss all of you! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear Family! (10/19)

   We had a great week this week and I am so happy to report that we found four new investigators! We found one through a part member family and three other from knocking on doors. I am so happy. 

  Wednesday we were at our wits end and so we decided to knock doors even though logically it sounded like a waste of time. We both felt prompted to do it though and so we put our trust in Heavenly Father. The night before when we were planning I looked at our area map and there was  street that stood out to me so we planned to start there. The streets is called Courtney and so I laughed thinking about Molly and decided that there was something special there. We walked to the street and then decided to go behind this tree in a near by park and there Sister Perry offered a beautiful prayer petitioning the Lord for His help to find those that are prepared for the Gospel. We then walked up to the closest door and knocked. On the other side of this door was this beautiful Colombian lady who was really happy to see us. We talked with her a bit and it turns out that she has been in New Zealand for about two years but she hasn't been to church since she left her home. We shared with her our basic message and she got really excited and said that her eight-year-old daughter has been asking her all these questions about God that she couldn't answer but she knew that we could so she has invited us to come back and teach her and her daughter. We then tried the rest of the houses on that street and no one answered the door. We walked down another street and I felt prompted to walk down this other side street and knock the doors there and at the first door we knocked we met this lady who had met with missionaries in the past and she too was really happy to see us. She invited us in and we taught her the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. She committed to read it and pray about it and as we were leaving she said "Please please come back!" We were so happy! From  there we walked to another street that I had thought of in my head and the first door we went to we met this university student who has been studying religions for a class and she is really interested in our religion and she wanted us to come back and teach her all about what we believe! Can you believe it we found three amazing investigators in an hour knocking doors. That never happens here!!! We were walking on clouds for the rest of the day. I know that Heavenly Father was leading us the whole time. 

   Well that's all from me this week. I love and miss all of you and I can't wait to see you all again! 

Sister Simkins

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dear Family! (10/12)

Again I don't have much to report this week. We are really struggling in our area to find people to teach. We have spent the majority of the members and strengthening them and encouraging them to do missionary work. We haven't seen any success from this yet but hopefully things will start to fall into place for us because we are really working as hard as we possibly can and I know we will be blessed for it. 

   Yesterday during the broadcast of General Conference I was reflecting on what I would write to all of you and the thought occurred to me that I haven't really shared my testimony with you as much as I should throughout my mission. 

   As my time here is winding down I look back and I am amazed at how much I have learned and how strong my testimony is now. I thought that I had a strong testimony before I left, but that tiny flame is nothing compared to the bonfire that I have now. I think that preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the last seventeen months has really allowed me to use it in my own life and I have never been happier. I firmly believe that Jesus is the Christ. It is because of Him that we can all live again and not just as individuals but as families. Here is a link to a video that we share with people that come into the Visitors' Center. I think it has a really powerful message:

  The foundation of my testimony of Jesus Christ comes from the Book of Mormon. Studying the Book of Mormon has allowed me to really come to know what I must do in this life to have peace and happiness. There are so many examples in the Book of Mormon of the love that Heavenly Father has for us. It is this love that the Plan of Salvation is based on. Through the plan of salvation that we really can live with our families forever. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it really is the word of God. I have seen it change people's lives and it has changed my life for the better.  

  Another amazing gift that I have achieved from my mission is a stronger testimony of repentance and change. I have learned here like never before that repentance is necessary and that change is possible. It is amazing to me that we can have a weakness or something that we struggle with and then we can humble ourselves and ask god for help and be given the strength to overcome it over come it. I feel like I have changed and grown so much and I know that this is a pattern that I can continue to apply in my life. I used to think that repentance was something to be ashamed of or something to be embarrassed about because it meant that I wasn't good enough or something like that. I now know that it is a beautiful gift and we need to use this gift everyday to be able to progress and move forward. 

  As glorious as all of these truths are, we wouldn't have any of them if it weren't for the work and sacrifice of the prophet Joseph Smith. As a young boy he was called as a prophet and I know that he saw what he said he saw and that he did what he said he did. I am eternally grateful for the work of Joseph Smith as God's prophet in the latter-days because it it weren't' for him, I wouldn't have the relationship my Savior that I now enjoy. 

  This is just a small piece of my testimony and it is very special to me. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to go out and hare these truths with the people here everyday. I love this gospel and I love this church and I love being a missionary. Remember that Heavenly Father loves each of you and know that I love you! 

Sister Simkins
Attachments area


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dear Family! (10/5)

 I am not going to lie or sugar coat things. We had a really hard week. We didn't find a single investigator and so we still have no one teach. The most frustrating part is that we are doing everything that we possibly can. We have visited every name on the ward list. If someone isn't home then we knock on the surrounding doors, if someone has moved then we try to share our message with the people who live at the address currently, and we walk EVERYWHERE to try and talk to as many people as possible. I guess you could look at our numbers or the results of our week and say that we failed, that we didn't succeed but the weirdest part is that every night when we get back to the flat we feel like we are on top of the world because we know that we had done everything we possibly could that day to invite others to come closer to Christ and that means that we are successful. It's weird to me to be in this situation because I feel like I am on borrowed time. I should have gone home for being sick, and I would be going home tomorrow if I hadn't extended. But I am still here and I suppose I still have a work to do even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment. I can see that the refining process is still in full swing as Sister Perry and I concluded the other day that we both aren't very patient people and therefore the Lord is just trying to help us develop that attribute. Even if I have six more weeks like the one we had last week I will still feel like I am a successful missionary. I think this experience has also helped me to not search for self justification from outside sources. We have to come to know for ourselves of our value and acceptance from the Lord and not from any other source. As much as I love and respect President Rudd, I am not working to please him, or my district leader or my zone leaders, I am working to please the Lord and I felt like this week He was pleased by our sacrifices. I can take this lesson and apply it now my life at the completion of my mission. It will be so easy to fall back into the world's trap that says "You only have value if you look like a model" or "If you aren't driving the nicest car you don't matter in the world" and I really don't want to be like that. My mission, and especially this week has helped me realize that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father and that I have great value in His sight. It is only through living the Gospel that we can come to know in a small portion the value that we really have as His children. It is so funny to me that I can realize this just because we lost all of our investigators and walked around everyday this week. There are so many lessons that I feel like I could never have learned had I not chosen to leave the world behind and serve a mission in New Zealand. 

Well that is all that I have this week. Sorry it's a short one. I hope that things are going well at home. I love and miss all of you and I can't wait to see you! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Family! (9/28)

   Another week come and gone and now another month come and gone. This week was a harder week than I have had in a while but the hard times weren't as bad because I have an awesome companion and being with her makes things a little bit better. 

  Long story short either we dropped our investigators or they dropped us so by Wednesday we had NO ONE left. It was the strangest thing. Everyone that we had been working with just vanished so to speak. If you remember our amazing investigator who prayed to know if the church was true before we even met her officially moved to the South Island to live with her mom. It was really sad but it was what needed to happen. Her mom supports her decision to be baptized whereas her grandparents who she was living with are anti towards there church so there would have been a lot of opposition if she had stayed here. At first I wanted to tell her that she needed to come back and get baptized up here and then I humbled myself and admitted that that was terribly selfish to think like that and I had the sweet assurance from the spirit letting me know that it was better for her to be down there. I am so sad that I won't get to see her baptism because I really love her but I know that we will remain life long friends. We get to keep in contact with her through the phone at the VC and when we called the other night she said that she is planning a trip next year to America to see some other friends that she has and she said she will definitely come to New Mexico to visit. I told her not to waste her time that there wasn't anything in New Mexico but she insisted that she is coming. I am really happy for her and right now she is set to be baptized on the 18th of October. She said she will email me photos and I will forever count her as my baptism even though I won't actually get to see her being baptized. 
   I also found out this week that the first convert of my mission, Pauline, is still really active and she is preparing to go to the temple! It has been a year since she was baptized and she is taking temple prep and is doing really well. She had a family thing to go to one Sunday afternoon and her ward meets at 1 in our building so she came to our 9 o'clock meeting instead. I stood up after sacrament and there she was sitting in the back of the chapel. I almost plowed people over to get to her. We couldn't talk for very long but she still recognized me and she said that she is still doing really well and she is very very happy! This was the sweetest moment to know that someone that I found and taught is now preparing to make sacred covenants in the temple. Her husband passed away about 15 years ago and so now she has the opportunity to be sealed to him. Isn't that the sweetest thing ever?  I am still so excited for it. She may or may not go while I am still here but if she does I would get to go with her. I guess we'll see what happens. 

  I had a fight with agency again this week. Sometimes agency frustrates me so much! I really thought I would be over it by now but I am not because it just hurts when you are teaching people and they can feel the spirit and they know it is true and they still don't accept it. We have been working with this lovely lady for about a month now and we were helping her quit smoking and she was doing really well. We have been teaching her a bit by bit but she wasn't progressing at all. We decided to take one of the senior couples from the VC over to visit her with us. They helped us teach the restoration and it was so powerful and I know she felt the spirit. The senior sister handed her a Book of Mormon to read Moroni's promise and she read the first verse and then all the sudden she closed the book, looked up and said "I don't want to do this whole mormon thing anymore." I was gutted! I know we at least planted a seed however and I hope that she continues to ponder on the things that we shared with her and that one day she will come to accept it.  It is so hard because I know how sweet and precious the gospel is and it never gets easier to see someone throw it away. I just know that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and I have faith that she will come around one day.

   Well that is all this week! I love and miss all of you! Happy Birthday Dad and Steve! Have a great week!!!!

Sister Simkins 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dear Family! (9/14)

  Today marks 16months since I left home and began this marvelous adventure. I still can't believe as I look back how many amazing experiences I have been blessed with along with all the lessons I have learned. It truly has been the best thing I have ever done!
  As I looked back on this week however I realized that I don't have much to report. It was a pretty laid back week apart from our visit to the temple and the chance that I had to see all of my companions. As I hugged each one of these great sisters that I have been able to serve with I realized again just how blessed I have been with my companions and now I will have these life long friendships to enjoy just because I decided to serve a mission. The mission was divided into three groups because it is too big for all of us to attend  session all together but it worked out that I was on shift at the VC everyday during the temple trips so I got to see the other three groups.
  We went to the temple on Wednesday and it was a special experience because I realized that the next time I am in this temple it will be on the last day of my mission because all of the departing missionaries get to go through a session with President and Sister Rudd before they go to the airport. The New Zealand Temple is beautiful and it was great to be in there with so many missionaries and people that I love. We completely filled the session and there were just a few people in the session that weren't missionaries. We didn't get to spend as much time in the Celestial Room because of the size of our group but I was grateful for the time we were given.
  We taught an interesting lesson this week. Remember the investigator that I mentioned last week? The one in a dark place? Well anyway we went around one night with our Relief Society President to clean her house so we were wearing service cloths and were ready to work. We knocked on the door and another lady answered it and invited us in. She said that she was a friend of our investigator and then our investigator walked into the room. We told them that we were here to clean the house and before we could start cleaning the friend started asking us questions and she too is in a really dark place. I knew I needed to share something with her but I could go in so many different directions that I didn't know what was best. I looked at the coffee table in the middle of the room and sitting on it was the Plan of Salvation pamphlet that we had left there the previous week. I got down on my knees and opened the pamphlet to a picture of Christ kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane and I just started talking about the atonement. Sister Perry followed my lead and bore a powerful testimony and at the end both women were in tears. The spirit was so strong and we got the friend's address and information to send the local sisters to visit her and we have a return appointment with our investigator to teach her more and clean her house. It felt a bit weird teaching the gospel wearing sweatpants because I am so used to teaching in a skirt but I know that the spirit was directing that lesson.
  So I guess that was my week. Things are great! Life is good! I love New Zealand and part of me wants to consider moving back here but then I am reminded just how far away it is so I think I will settle for just coming back for a vacation. I hope things are will at home for all of you! Have a great week!
Sister Simkins

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dear Family! (9/7)

  Good good things are happening. We had a great week and Sister Perry are enjoying getting to know each other. We are SO similar. I think we are more alike than any of my other companions. It's funny though because she is the same as I was when I started my mission and she has the same goals and outlook on life. She says that she wants to find in her mission the things that I have found in mine. It's really cool because I have a goal now of helping her realize how amazing she is. We just have had very similar life experiences and I want her to realize what I have realized. I am really enjoying being her companion. She is a great missionary and I couldn't ask for a better sister!

  This week Sister Perry and I contacted a referral from the elders and we met this lady who invited us into her home. To put it in the simplest way possible she was in a really dark place both mentally and physically. She shared with us some of her life struggles and it was really sad. I was looking at her and looking around her house and I asked myself "How can we possibly help her?" then I was reminded by a quote that I had read about a week ago during my person study which says "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." and that was by President Kimball. At his moment I just wanted to help her so much. I wanted her to accept the gospel so that she can change her life and come into the light. I could see the potential within her and I think for a small moment I was able to view her the way that Heavenly Father views her and I just wanted her to reach this potential. After talking for a while we invited her to church and she said she would come. I then felt inspired to ask her if we could help her clean up her house a little bit. She said that we could and so Sister Perry cleaned the kitchen while I vacuumed and clean the living room. She sat there and kept saying "Thank you so much. No one has ever done anything like this for me. It was a special experience. She didn't come to church but Sister Perry and I are still hopeful that she will let us into her life.
  I learned again this week that Heavenly Father knows me and is aware of me. Too bad I learned it because I am an idiot. We got a text one night from an old lady in our ward asking us to come help her with a picture frame. The next say we stopped by to help her and she wanted to take the original painting out of the frame that she had bought at a second hand shop and then she wanted to replace it with one of the Savior. She started off by telling us that she was so excited to have found this nice frame that was exactly the right size for the print of the Savior. We agreed that it was really special. She then explained what she wanted us to do and we started working. She said that she started working on it and then she stopped her self because she was afraid of breaking the glass so she decided to ask us to do it instead. The frames here are a bit different than the ones I am used to from back home. There are a bunch of little metal brackets folded down to keep everything in place and so we were supposed to fold these brackets up to slip the old painting out a slip the new one in. Well obviously I have never done anything like this before. We were using butter knives to pull up the brackets and I had a particularly tough one and so I used a bit more force and I lost hold of the knife and guess what happen... I broke the glass. I felt sick to my stomach and I almost cried. This lady is the sweetest old thing and she just loves us and Jesus Christ so much and I felt like I had crushed her dreams. I promised her that I would replace the glass and take care of it for her but I could tell that she was really sad and disappointed too. I hate disappointing people and causing them sadness so it was a hard situation for me to be in. I didn't care how much it would cost I was going to replace the glass. I explained that we couldn't go shopping until Monday but that I would buy the glass then. Well a few days later Sister Perry and I were in town eating lunch when I remembered the glass and had that sick feeling inside come back and I had the thought that since there was a second hand shop down the street we should go there and see if there was another frame of a similar size that we could take the glass from. We quickly walked to the shop and I walked in and the first thing I saw leaned up against the wall was a black frame that seemed to be the same size as the other one. The frame itself was in really bad condition but the glass was fine. I bought it and prayed that it would work. It cost me a whole 50 cents. After church yesterday we went over to this sweet lady's home and sure enough the glass was a perfect fit! It sounds like a dumb story but it was so perfect that I know Heavenly father was watching out for me and this sweet sister. What are the odds that I even thought to go to the shop and then the first thing I see is this frame? I mean it wasn't even by any other frames. It was just sitting there against the wall away from everything else and it happened to be exactly the perfect size. This was not a coincidence I know that it all worked out through some divine help. This is just another small example of the love that Heavenly Father has us as His children.
  Well that is all from me this week. We get to go to the temple on Wednesday and I am so excited!!!!!!! I love and miss all of you!!!!!
Sister Simkins

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dear Family! (8/31)

  Well again this week I find myself struggling for words as I try to explain this week. So much has happened and I have been so full of a range of different emotions that I don’t even know where to begin.
   Monday night we were doing our daily planning and our phone rang and it was Elder Hawkins. Sister Clarke answered it and put it on speaker but it kept messing up so she took it off speaker to try and hear better. I could hear Elder Hawkins talking on the other end but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Sister Clarke listened for a moment and then her face lit up and she seemed really excited. I thought at first that she was just messing with me because I was watching her so closely. She seemed to get more and more excited as she talked but I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. She then said “do we just wear missionary cloths? It’s not like we’ll be out digging holes.” And by then I was really confused. After she hung up she looked at me and said “You are going to be so excited! Guess what we get to do tomorrow! We get to go into the temple and clean the crystals from the chandeliers!” When she said this I was filled with so much excitement and joy that I almost cried. Those that know me well would know that this is sort of a dream come true. Basically what had happened is Elder Hawkins was talking to a member of the Temple Presidency and they were saying how they were short on staff to clean the chandelier and he wondered if Elder Hawkins could send some of the sisters up to help. Elder Hawkins called President Rudd who approved so Tuesday after district meeting we were able to go into the temple and help clean the chandelier. It was an experience that I will never forget. Even in the hurry to get the temple cleaned and ready to re-open, things were still so peaceful and relaxing. We dressed in old white temple dresses and were taken to a part in the temple where there was a big table and laid out all across this table was hundreds and hundreds of amazing crystals from one of the chandeliers. We then spent the next hour and a half picking up each crystal one by one and polishing every side and then laying them neatly on another table. This was a special time for Sister Clarke and me because as we polished the crystals we talked about our experiences the first time we went to the temple and it really helped us grow together as companions. As I was polishing a crystal I looked across the room and hanging on the back wall was the painting of Christ’s second coming where He is surrounded by angels and there is a desert landscape underneath (the one that used to be in the boys room) and as I was looking at this paining got this overwhelming feeling and the thought occurred to me that “Normally I go to the temple to feel the love from my Father in Heaven and my Savior but today I came to the temple to show my love for Them.” I then looked at all of the crystals that we were working on and I felt so happy that I could be offering such a small contribution to show my love for Them. It was a tender experience that caused me to ponder more on not only the love that I constantly feel from my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ but also the love that I have for Them. I realized that it is my love for Them that really brings me happiness in this life. Yes my family brings me more happiness compared to anything else, but because of the love I have for Heavenly Father, I am willing to do what I need to do to one day live with my family forever, and then because of the love that He has for me He is willing to help me get there. Everything wonderful in this life comes from God whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. However, it’s when we choose to acknowledge it that life becomes so much sweeter.  I don’t know if I am even making sense or not but I guess I realized this week the happiness I enjoy is not only because of the love that Heavenly Father has for me, but it also comes from the love that I have for my Heavenly Father and I only realized that because I was given the opportunity to clean His house. It was such a marvelous experience. After we had been polishing for a while the workers informed us that they needed to sand the walls in preparation for new wallpaper and they didn’t want the dust to settle on the crystals so we had to stop working and cover the crystals. Instead of leaving they told us that we could wash the chairs in the endowment room so we did and that was a rewarding experience as well. After we were done washing the seats we were allowed to go and sit in the Celestial Room for a bit. This was a special experience because I had a lot on my mind and I needed a bit of encouragement. The Spirit is funny sometimes because I feel like I get impressions sometimes that prepare me for the future. I had one such impression and it made me a little nervous and so sitting in the Celestial Room really helped me calm my nerves and feel the spirit. We weren't sure if we were going to have a temple trip anytime soon and so I felt so blessed to be able to just sit in the Celestial Room just in case I didn't get to go until I was finishing my mission.

  After we were finished in the Celestial Room we walked back down to the VC to have our weekly interview with Elder Hawkins and him and everyone else in the VC were acting really strange. The other sisters had gotten their transfer news and we had a missed call from our zone leaders. We called them back and I was really nervous. Sister Clarke talked to them and they asked if we had talked to president and we said that we hadn't and so they said that president would be calling and they didn't tell us anything else. As soon as I heard this I knew that my impression had been right all along. I always know it before it happens. So president called later that night to ask me to TRAIN ANOTHER MISSIONARY! I wasn't surprised because I have felt like I was training again and sure enough I was right. Sister Clarke was transferred to Tauganga and she was really sad to go but it was time. Can you believe this though? I will have only had one companion my whole mission (besides my trainer) that I didn't train. Everyone has assured me that I have the record for training the most missionaries because I am up to 7 now. Oh my goodness. You would think I would be used to it by now but I still feel as inadequate as ever and that is why I am so nervous. But I have faith that all will be well. My new companion's name is Sister Perry and she is from Canberra Australia. She is really nice and really sweet and she turned 20 a few days ago so my first companion ever that is younger than me. We are enjoying our time together so far and I am happy because training her will help me stay completely focused for the rest of my mission. I realized this week that I will barely finish her 12 training program right before I leave. This really put in perspective that I have barely anytime left. I felt it more this week than I ever have. I really will be home in no time and that makes me really sad. But being with Sister Perry helps me stay focused because I want to train her right and not make her homesick by me always talking about home. The funny thing is that she has no idea that I will be going home in two months. She asked me how long I have been out and I said "About a year now." and she said "Wow so you only have six months left?" and I said "Ya something like that." I want to keep it that way as long as I can so that we can just dedicate ourselves completely to the work. It should be a really great transfer and I am excited! And we found out that we have a temple trip next week too so I am really really excited for that!!!!!!

  Well that is all I have for this week! I hope all is well at home. Thank you all for your love and support!

Sister Simkins

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Family! (8/24)

 What a week! Again we have experienced miracle after miracle in the area and in the VC. I just love being a missionary and helping others come to know their Savior Jesus Christ. The temple is currently closed this week and that means that it is really slow  the VC and so to make better use of our time we have been working on a modified VC schedule this week and so we have only been in every other day and for half the day. Because of this we spent more time in our area and that was really great. We had a few days of full proselyting and it was weird experiencing it again. I have already forgotten how tiring full time was. There were a few days that we came home and just crashed because we were not only spiritually drained like we usually are, but we were physically drained as well. But despite being tired we were still able to have a great week with many miracles. 
   Do you remember a few weeks ago when I talked about the girl that we had met who told us that she had already prayed and received an answer that the church was true? Well the story gets more amazing! Her Name is Sam by the way (I can’t remember whether or not I told you). So we had an appointment with Sam two Fridays ago to teach her the next lesson and when we went to teach her she wasn't there. We brushed it off thinking that she forgot so we called her can left a message. A few more days went by and we didn't hear from her and it had been over a week since we had heard from her. As the days went by we were more and more nervous and I was praying so hard that things were okay with her. In my mind something had happened with the grandparents who are really strong in another faith. Finally Tuesday morning we go a text message from Sam apologizing for not meeting with us and explaining that she had recently broken up with her less-active boyfriend of two years and she was really struggling with it. We didn't really know what to think because it was his mom that introduced her to the church in the first place. She was staying at a friend’s house Tuesday and so we set an appointment for Wednesday morning. As we were walking up to her house on Wednesday for our appointment I was praying because we were walking in blind and we didn't know what she was going through and I just knew that I loved her and I wanted to help. My biggest fear was that this experience was going to cause her to no longer want to continue going to church. I just prayed that we would be able to help her with whatever she was going through because she is a really special girl. We knocked on the door and she let us in and she seemed happy to see us so I considered that as a positive sign. We sat down and started talking and it came out that she had broken up with him because she realized that the chances of him coming back to church and being active were really slim and that isn't a chance she was willing to take. Can you believe that? She said in her own words “The first time I went to church I prayed to know if it was true and I got the answer that it was and right after that I got this feeling telling me that I was going to marry a ‘good mormon husband’. I have kept that in mind throughout this whole experience and I just realized that my boyfriend probably isn't going to be that good mormon husband that I want.” As she was explaining this I was shocked because she was saying that she broke up with her boyfriend because he wasn't going to be active in the church like she wanted. After she explained this we had the most amazing lesson with her. The spirit was so strong confirming to her that Heavenly Father was aware of the pain she was feeling and that she had made the right decision. I feel like I have known Sam my whole life and she expressed that she felt the same way about us. She said that she felt like the three of us clicked instantly and she was grateful that we were here to help her through this. Sam decided to go visit her mom who lives on the South Island to get away for a week or two and get her mind off things. We have been calling her and texting her while she is gone to keep in contact with her. We called her Friday night and we had a really sweet lesson with her over the phone. Yesterday I was thinking about Sam and how great she is and I had a feeling that we needed to text her and give her some scriptures to read so we sent her a message and I didn't give it another thought. A few hours later we got a message from Sam saying “Thank you sisters so much. I was having a really hard time and the scriptures were just what I needed. You sisters are seriously the best!” NEVER ignore a thought to do good even if you are almost certain that it is “just  you”. I almost brushed off the thought to text her because we were busy and had million other things to do. But we decided to stop and take the time and do it again and it turned out to be just what she needed. We have invited Sam to be baptized and she said yes and now she is praying to know what date to do it. I already love her so much and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead of her in her life. She is going to be an amazing member of the church because she has already sacrificed so much for her testimony and she really wants to do all she can to follow Jesus Christ. 
  Two Monday nights ago we were on shift at the VC and it seemed to be a slow night. I was sitting in another part of the VC watching some videos when I heard Sister Clarke talking to someone so I went to join her. A member couple had brought in their nephew who had recently moved in with them and was interested in learning more about the gospel. Throughout the rest of the evening we taught him the Restoration of the Gospel and he really felt the spirit. He expressed that he had made a lot of mistakes but that he was ready to change his life. The spirit was so strong as we bore testimony that the Savior gives everyone chance after chance to change their life. At the end of the lesson we invited him to be baptized on the 30th of August and he said"Wow that is really soon! Can't I pick my own date?" We assured him that he would be ready and we invited him to pray about it. We also told him that we would followup with him in a few weeks to see how he was doing. This week it was time for us to followup with him but because he doesn't have a phone of his own we called his Aunt to see how he was doing. We started the conversation out by asking if she knew whether or not he was reading the Book of Mormon and the aunt said "You haven't heard? He's getting baptized tomorrow! He had his interview with the mission president last night and the baptism is scheduled for tomorrow at 4." We were so excited because this was a week earlier than we had initially invited him to be baptized! It is so amazing to me how the gospel helps people change their lives for the better. This is another baptism for the Visitors' Center and we have three more investigators that we are teaching over the phone that have baptismal dates set. We are having so much success and it's just remarkable. I love serving there! 

  Well that is all I have for this week! I want to finish by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY again to my wonderful Mother. I love her so much! She is the greatest example to me and I hope that I can grow up to be just like her. I hope she knows how much I love her! She's the best!!!!! 

  I love and miss you all and I hope that you all have a great week! 

Sister Simkins

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dear Family! (8/17)

Let me just say that being a missionary is not at all what I expected it to be and I have done so many different things as a missionary that I didn't even know were a part if missionary work. I will explain...

  Elder Hawkins (my VC director) is amazing. He is all about getting the community interested and involved with the church and the VC. He decided to join the Interfaith Council here in Hamilton so that he could build relationships with the leaders of other faiths. Seeing as this month Hamilton will celebrate it's 150th anniversary, Elder Hawkins had this idea to host a devotional with the interfaith council about how religion has shaped the growth of Hamilton. The idea was to have the devotional at the VC and have the different leaders from the council come and share with everyone the contributions that their religion has made to shaping Hamilton. Sounds simple enough right? Well as the plans started to come together for this thing they realized that it was going to be much bigger than they has anticipated so instead of the VC they moved it to the biggest Chapel in Hamilton. The devotional was held last night and there was so much that went on I don't even know how to describe it. 
   Before the devotional, Elder Hawkins invited all the religions leaders and a lot of community leaders and even some people from the Church Area Office in Auckland to a reception where they served the most amazing food and it allowed everyone to mingle with one another. President and Sister Rudd were there as well as a lot of other important people for the church.  The eight of us sisters serving in the VC had the special responsibility of escorting the "VIP's" as we called them to the reception. When Elder Hawkins was explaining what we had to do he said "You have a very important job and I trust you. You sisters are classy, and poised, and beautiful and so I need to you charm these people and make them feel welcome and comfortable. You're going to be the face of the church and missionaries in Hamilton." When the people would walk through the doors I would introduce myself (we got special permission to not be with our companion) and then talk to them as we walked and I tried to be as warm and friendly as possible. We would escort them to the reception and give them their name tag and then head back and do it again with the next person. Doing this I met the mayor or Hamilton, some members of the City Council, and some religions leaders of other denominations. I really enjoyed it! After the reception was finished Elder Hawkins gave everyone a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to say thank you and then we were responsible for taking the VIP's into the chapel and seating them in the proper order at the front. It was tricky and half the time we didn't exactly know what we were doing but we tried to do it as peacefully as we could and somehow it all worked out. 
  After all of the craziness we were able to sit down and enjoy the devotional. It was a very interesting night. For Music there was a Methodist Tongan Youth Choir, a Catholic Quartet, an Orchestra Ensemble from the stake I am serving in, and a youth choir made up youth between the ages of 12-18 also my stake. The most powerful moment for me and my favorite part of the whole night was when the youth choir sang "Stand in Holy Places". There were about 50 youth in the choir and they sounded amazing. The spirit was so strong as they sang and so powerful and the message of the song was so special. I know everyone that was there felt the power of it. The rest of the program was six mintute presentations from denominations such as the Catholics, Methodists, Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic, Anglican, Hindu, and of course LDS. The man who spoke on behalf of our church was Elder Thomson the area seventy who also lives in Hamilton. His of course was my favorite and he bore a powerful testimony at the end. He said "No matter what our religious beliefs are, we are brothers and sisters, children of God, our Loving Heavenly Father. He is real and He loves us." At the end of his presentation we sang "I am a Child of God" as a congregation to close the meeting. It was so powerful. Imagine a congregation made up of all these different faiths and backgrounds all singing "I am a Child of God". It was an experience that I will never forget. 

  At the end of the devotional we stood at the door and greeted the people as they left. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the evening and they all seemed most impressed with the LDS youth choir. I heard so many people raving about it. It was a really great evening and in all over 850 people attended. It was massive and the turnout was incredible. I am so grateful for the experiences that my mission and serving in the Visitors' Center has given me. I have been able to be a part of so many amazing things. 

  So that was the main thing that happened this week. Other than that we just had a normal great week of teaching and finding people. I love missionary work and I love teaching people the gospel. I am so happy to be on a mission! We really have the truth in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and there is such a significant power that comes from it. I am so blessed to be a part of this great work. 

I love and miss you all!

Sister Simkins

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dear FAmily! (8/10)

  I don't even think that I can even explain the absolutely amazing week we had. I would have to say that this week rivals any other week I have had on my mission. It was just so incredible. If I learned anything this week it is that my Heavenly Father is so aware of me and He wants me to be successful and happy! 

   Sunday and Monday night there was an incident that happened here in the VC that shook Sister Clarke and I up a bit and I won't go into details but basically this man came in to try and challenge our testimonies and cause some trouble for us. After it was all said and done Sister Clarke and I realized that we needed to talk about somethings and resolve somethings in our companionship so that we can work more in unity. We had a deep "companionship inventory" when we got home from the VC Monday night. I think this is why a mission prepares you for marriage because it teaches you not only how to live with another person 24/7 but also how to communicate with them. It was a big growing experience for the both of us and I am grateful for it. Tuesday we both woke up convinced that we were going to have an amazing day and we could feel that something amazing was going to happen. After our morning appointment fell through we deided to contact a referral that we gotten the week before that we had tried to contact every day but hadn't been able to catch them.  We were about to give up because no one was ever home but we decided to try it one more time. We knocked on the door and this girl in her twenties opened it and seemed really happy to see us. She instantly invited us in and made us some Hot Chocolate. We started talking and she told us all about herself. Basically she has been going to church for the past few months and she has already prayed and received and answer that this church is true. She is planning on marrying her boyfriend in the temple after he comes back to church (He's a less-active member). I wanted to cry throughout the whole lesson because this was Heavenly Father's way of letting us know that all of our hard work and sacrifice was accepted by Him. Missionary work is hard. Sometimes you give everything you can to an investigator and they still drop you because they aren't prepared and this has happened to me over and over again to where I was starting to doubt myself as a missionary and doubt whether or not I had been effective. This was Heavenly Father's way of showing me that He is in control and that when we are ready and prepared, He can step in and send us a miracle. The only obstacle in the way right now is her grandparents. They are very very strong in another faith and they are opposed to her joining our church. If you could please pray that they will soften their hearts and allow their granddaughter to be baptized I would really appreciate it. Her name is Sam and like I said before she is in her twenties and so she doesn't need consent to be baptized but she doesn't want this to cause contention in her family so I am hoping and praying that things work out. 

  The next miracle has to do with my health. I have been praying like crazy for a long time now for some help because me being sick was causing some strain on my realationship with Sister Clarke. Last Sunday I was talking to Sister Hawkins about all of my health problems and I went through the list of my symptoms. I explained to her that I can live with the nausea and vomiting because I am almost used to it by now but I told her that my biggest struggle was how tired I get all the time. I explained that I have to sleep for around two hours everyday or I just can't function mentally or physically. She then asked me if I was anemic and I said no and I didn't think anything more of it. ​Monday night I prayed to Heavenly Father harder and longer than I think I have my whole life and I begged Him for a solution to my problem. When I was finished praying I was laying in bed just thinking about everything and I started to think about that conversation I had with Sister Hawkins the night before. I was going over the conversation with her in my head when it got to the part about me having low iron and being anemic and then it hit me. My mind flashed back to when I was first seeing doctors about all of this and I had all of these blood tests done. The doctor in going through the results mentioned that I had really low iron but she said that could be related to me not getting the nutrition I need because I was throwing everything up. That was all that was said about it. At the end of the visit she prescribed me all of this medicine to help with the nausea and pain and she also prescribed iron pills. Now in the craziness that was my life during that time I didn't ever take the iron pills and I forgot about them and I completely forgot that she has said I had low iron. All of this came flooding back to my memory as I laid in bed and I knew this was my answer. The next morning I got up, dug through my suitcases, found the iron pills, and started taking them and they have turned everything around. I feel fully like myself again. This week was so wonderful because I could work without getting tired and I felt like I was mentally there the whole time! I can't believe that the answer was there the whole time but I know that I needed to learn to rely on the Lord and when I did He was able to help me. So that was the second miracle of the week.

  Now for the greatest miracle of the week! Saturday was a really great day and I was enjoying all the lessons we were teaching in the VC. I had just finished teaching a less-active member that had come in and I walked out of the teaching room into the main part of the VC when Sister Clarke said "Sister Simkins! You'll never guess what just happened! Lance came in and he said that he is getting baptized tonight at 5 and he wanted to thank us for 'changing his life' and helping him on his journey." If you remember back a month or two ago and I talked about teaching this man who had been brought in with a friend and I had a prompting to play this video to end the lesson but I couldn't quite remember what the video was about but I played it anyway and it ended up being exactly what he needed. I also mentioned a few weeks ago how he had come in again and told us he was being taught but the local missionaries and was loving it. Well he came back Saturday just to let Sister Clarke and I know that he was getting baptized. I was so happy I couldn't even express it in words. I then thought that we should go to the baptism but I realized that it was out of zone so we probably wouldn't be able to go. Everyone was saying that we needed to go so we mustered up the courage we needed and called the assistants for permission and they said the answer was probably no but they said that we could try calling President. We then called President but he didn't answer so we left a message and waited for him to call us back. He never called so we took that as our answer. After our shift at the VC we ran home to get our phone that we had forgotten that day and we got it just as the assistants were calling to tell us that they had talked to President and he had said we could go because the chapel where it was being held was between our house and the VC so really we weren't going too far out of our area. This is another tender mercy of the Lord because seeing that baptism again reaffirmed to me that I am doing a worthwhile work here and that my efforts are not wasted. At the baptism a set of missionaries from the other zone asked how we were there and we explained that President had given us permission and they were shocked because they had called the assistants to go to a baptism of someone else in another zone and the assistants refused even though it was a family friend of one of the elders. So it was a miracle baptism and a miracle that we were able to attend. 

  Well that is all I have for this week. As you can probably imagine I am beyond happy with how things are going and I am still loving life as a missionary. Heavenly Father is real and He loves us and He wants us to be happy. Miracles still exists and they testify to us of God's love. 

I love and miss all of you!
Sister Simkins

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dear Family! (8/3)

I still can't believe that my Little Molly-Pop turned 10 this week! I really can't comprehend her being that old because that is how old I was when she was born and I felt so old so she can't even be that old. Time is going so fast, things are changing, I am changing, kids are growing up, but the future is bright. Happy Birthday Molly!

  This week had it's ups and downs as always. I will start with the downs because it really wasn't that bad. One night at the VC we got a call from the assistants asking if we would allow a sister to stay the night at our flat because there was a Polynesian Conference the next day and some sisters were traveling in for it. I was so pleased later that night when they dropped off my dear Tongan Sister Vea! It was so great to see her again and to catch up with her because it has been ages since I have seen her. It was a lot of fun. The down side is that she was just recovering from the FLU and she said that her companion was coming down with it and next thing I know both Sister Clarke and I had it too. I hate being sick and this stuff was bad. So not only did I have my other health issues but I was struggling with the flu as well. The upside to all of this is that Sister Clarke had it too and I know that sounds terrible but it is so much easier on a companionship when you both are sick because then you don't feel guilty for making your companion stay inside and not work. Saturday was funny because we were both so sick but we were on shift at the VC and no one could fill in for us so we tried to work and we would take turns going downstairs and sleeping on the couch. When our shift was over at 3 we went home, put our pajamas on, and went to sleep and didn't wake up until sometime after 8. We didn't feel like cooking and nothing that we had sounded good so we put our church cloths on, and went and got some Chinese food from the shop down the road. We came home, ate, said our prayers and went back to sleep and slept the whole night through. We woke up yesterday morning feeling a lot better but still not one hundred percent. I am feeling great today though so I think I am finally making my way over this. 

  Because of being sick we didn't get to do as much work as we had hoped but we still were able to find some really good investigators. At district meeting I can't remember what was said but I had the impression to go through the area book and contact some former investigators and it's funny because Sister Clarke had the same impression. We went through name after name and none of them stuck out to us except one. We went to the house and met her and she was really excited to see us. She met with missionaries about three years ago and almost got baptized but something came up so she backed out. She is from Columbia of all places and she speaks really good English so that will be great for our other Colombian recent converts. When she first opened the door she said "Missionaries! Girls!" She was so excited that were girls and that we could teach her. I can't wait to see where things go with her. 

 Well that is all for this week. I love and miss all of you and I hope that you have a great week! 

Sister Simkins

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dear Family! (7/27)

This week was great as always. We have taught some amazing lessons and it has been really fun. Sad news though. Just when the we get a miracle something changes. But it's okay because I know ultimately Heavenly Father is in control and it will all work out. So I told you last week about the Burmese/Thai family that we are teaching and how we got the missionary pamphlets to teach them with. We were so excited to teach them and we felt like this was the breakthrough that we had been waiting for. So we went to teach them one night this week and within the first few minutes of talking with them the mom told us that she is really sick and her body isn't responding to the treatments that the doctors are giving her here so she has decided to fly home to Thailand and Myanmar for three months so that she can have the doctors there treat her with medicine that her body is used to. We were so sad to hear this but as she was talking I had to sweet feeling of the Holy Ghost confirm to be that the Master's hand is in this and that it will all work out. I still firmly believe that there is something so special about this family and I know that one day things will fall into place and they will join the church. I am just sad that I won't be able to be a part of it. After she told is this we went ahead and gave her the pamphlets and she was so excited by them. She just kept saying "My language! Thank you my language!" It really touched my heart. She promised to read them and study them and pray about them. I am sure that this will really help her along her journey. They are scheduled to come back on October 30th and I am hopeful that I will still be here in the area.  wrote the date on my calendar so I won't forget and I am going to try and visit them then because they said they were going to live in the same house. As hard as it was to say goodbye, I really know that everything will work out for this family. I can't wait to be reunited with them either in this life or the next because I love them so much. 

  In this coming week Sister Clarke and I are praying to find an investigator that is ready to progress whether it be someone we already know or someone that we will meet this week. We had another investigator that we thought was golden drop us this last week because she is so busy she just doesn't have time to meet with us. That was really sad too but I have seen time and time again on my mission that when we get dropped or things seem to be falling apart, that is when the miracles come and we meet someone else who is ready to progress. It's a bit like the Lord is helping us clear our schedule by putting those aside who aren't ready to progress so that we are ready and have the time to focus on someone new who is ready to progress towards baptism. It will be interesting to see what happens this week because I think something great is just around the river bend. If there is one thing I have learned throughout my mission is that the Lord is in control and that everything has to happen in His timing and not ours not matter how much we want it to. 

  Another area of our work that we are seeing a lot of success in right now is the work we are doing with the less-actives. President Rudd has posed the question time and time again of "Who is more important to the Lord, the person who has yet to make sacred covenants with Him, or the person who has forgotten those covenants?" Untimely he is saying that a re-activation is the same as a baptism in the eyes of our Father in Heaven. I love visiting and working with less-actives because they have so much light and faith inside of them, they have just forgotten it. All we do is help them feel the spirit to rekindle that flame of faith that they already have. It is such an extraordinary process! Over the last few weeks we have gotten so many less-actives to come back to church  and it has been so exciting! I love being a missionary! I love working with people and seeing them turn their lives around and follow the Savior so that they can take part in the happiness that He is just waiting to give them. 

  In conclusion I am still as happy as ever and I am loving every minute of every day. I am living in the most beautiful country on earth, teaching the most amazing people, and having the most wonderful experience. Everyday I learn more and more about myself and everyday I am able to grow and improve a little bit more. I have learned how to overcome some of my weaknesses and magnify my strengths. The process of change and the changes I can see within myself never cease to amaze me. Sister Clarke and I talked about this  and  for a long time one night and through the course of our conversation I was really able to realize where I was when I started my mission and where I am now and I am so grateful for the changes that I have been able to make. I am happier than ever and I know now more then ever before that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and that through His help and through the help of my Savior Jesus Christ, I can do anything and that is a wonderful feeling. 

  I love and miss all of you so much and I am looking forward to the day that we can be reunited. I didn't realize just how much I would miss everyone. You all mean so much to me and I talk about all of you often. My favorite thing to talk about is my family and friends because you mean so much to me. Have a great week and remember that I love you!

Sister Simkins

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Family! (7/20)

  Where to even begin? I am just filled with so much joy and happiness today that I don't even know if I can adequately put into words how I am feeling and what has been happening. This week has just been amazing and I don't even really know why. My attitude changed and my out look changed and things are just so wonderful now. I find it so interesting how the learning and growing process works. For the past I don't know how long I have been struggling with an understanding of the atonement and I didn't even know it. Isn't that weird? Like always I have been happy because serving a mission makes me happy but I have been hard on myself for things that are out of my control. I think subconsciously I have been doubting my worth as a missionary. I was struggling but it wasn't completely obvious to me that this was happening because I was still really happy with how things were going and the improvements I have made. During a personal study this week I read an article in the July 2014 ensign that I changed everything. Here is the link to the article because it really is remarkable: As I read this article I felt as if it was written just for Sister Simkins. I can't tell you how much it changed my perspective on things and helped me understand the reality of the atonement in every aspect of my life. After reading this I set some goals and I, throughout this week, have been able to let go of the unrealistic and unattainable expectations I had for myself and it has been one of the best things I have done on my mission. I can't begin to describe how much happier I am now, and here I thought I was happy before. The atonement is remarkable. I encourage all of you to read this article and see if there is anything in there that can help you as well. 

  As for the rest of the week it was full of more miracles! I think I have mentioned before the Thai family that we are teaching. This week miracle happened with them. There is something special about them and we know that as hard as it is to teach them we can't give up on them. So the Mom is speaks Thai but her native language is Burmese. She can understand and speak basic Thai but she can only read Burmese. The Dad can't speak Burmese, only Thai. The fourteen year old daughter speaks and reads Thai and Burmese and the whole family is learning English and so that is how we can communicate with them. Now we have been struggling to know how to help them progress because we couldn't figure out what they understood and what they didn't (The were taught by the elders before and were supposed to be baptized but they pulled out the night before). Sister Clarke and I went on splits and I visited the family with a lady from our ward and as I was talking to them and asking questions I opened up the Book of Mormon and showed them a picture of Jesus Christ and I asked "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" and the mom said "He is the Son of God. Our Savior" Then I asked "So who is God to you?" and she said "God is our Heavenly Father." I was really happy with this response due to their Buddhist background. I felt like we were finally getting somewhere and I prayed that I would be able to ask the right questions to figure out what was missing. I turned to the next picture which is on of Joseph Smith and I asked them if they knew who it was. They all shook their heads. I then said "Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and he translated the Book of Mormon." When I said that the mom got really excited and she said "That's it! That I don't understand. What is prophet? What does prophet mean to Jesus?" I was so happy that she had figured out and that I had figured out what was holding them back. They don't understand prophets and the restoration. This whole time we thought they didn't understand Jesus Christ. There isn't a Book of Mormon in Burmese and so we tried to have the 14 year old daughter read to her mother in Thai but the mom doesn't understand enough Thai to understand the Book of Mormon. We didn't know what to do to fix this and we prayed for a solution. We also prayed for a solution on how to have her be able to understand the restoration. This is where the miracle comes in. Last week we spent a great deal of time at the VC on the computer looking for Burmese material to use but they barely had anything. There was a Burmese testimony of Joseph Smith and some relief society messages and that was about it. We were pretty disappointed and we kept praying for some guidance. One night the assistants were teaching a lesson at the VC and before they left I explained the situation and asked them for advice. One of the assistants said that he taught a Burmese woman using a Burmese bible and the testimony of Joseph Smith. Someone else started talking to him before I had a chance to ask more questions. The next day we got a call from the VC saying that this assistant had found the missionary pamphlets in BURMESE! He had dropped them off for us at the VC. I was so excited! These pamphlets are the exact same ones that we use to teach people in English and they are so simple and straight forward and now to have them in Burmese so that this woman can understand! I almost cried I was so happy. This is a miracle. Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers. I haven't had a chance to talk to the assistants again to ask them where they found the pamphlets but I am anxious to know because we could have never dreamed that they would exist. I just can't wait to see how this whole thing turns out because the hand of the Lord is prevalent throughout the whole thing. 

   Overall it has just been a remarkable week. We have met some really great people this week that have a lot of potential and I know that we are constantly being led by the Lord. I love being a missionary and I have such a strong testimony of this sacred work. I am just so happy! I am having the time of my life. Thank you for your love and support. I love and miss you so much! Have a great week!

Sister Simkins