Monday, April 25, 2016

Birthday in the South

April 25, 2016

Hey Family,

Thank you for all the Birthday wishes and the gifts. I really loved them and am grateful for all y'all do for me. I especially loved the two books and the color guard shirt! 

So this week, we got to help out again at St. Vincent’s and that is always so much fun. We do that every Tuesday and Wednesday. The lady's that help out there are so great and very friendly. It's great to be able to help out the community. After we got to go out with Sister Herron to go visit some people and we got to visit with an old member of the church. Brother Bennett is a very nice old man, but a problem that we have is that he is about 90% blind and can barely hear. Bishop wants us to work with him and to see if we can get him back to church. So we were able to see Kyah this week and we had a pretty good lesson. She told us that she hasn't has coffee for the past 2 weeks. We are so proud of her and being able to make it this long. Also we talked a lot about Faith and also about how Heavenly Father hears our prayers. It was pretty cool because I had read during personal studies about "Turn to Him and Answers will Come". It was very comforting to share this with her and also for it to help me out. I learned a lot from it. We also got to talk a little bit of her concerns. She doesn't want to leave her church because of the friendships that she has there. But she promised that she would come to church because I am speaking. After we got to go help Mike and Amy Turley get all moved. We got there early and helped with cleaning the apt. Then everyone showed up and helps get them all loaded up in the van. We got a pretty good workout because they lived on the second floor and running up and down them for about 5 hrs. was pretty exhausting. But everything was able to fit in the van and we got to rest after and have some pizza. It felt really good after to be able to help them. 

Saturday was a pretty good and busy day. We went and saw Ms. Flowers in the morning. Sister Durtschi and Sister Demo helped them out during the floods. So we got to visit with her and she is a super sweet lady. We got to share with her the Restoration and she had really great questions. The spirit was very much there and it was just going great. We asked her if she would be baptized and she said that she would pray about it, so hopefully when we see her next we can set her with a date. Later we got to go try DeAnn (Demo and Durtschi tracted into her) We got to visit with her for a little bit. She is super busy with work and I am grateful we got to catch her. Then we went down the street to see Melissa. We aren't completely sure what to do with her. She hasn't really read from the Book of Mormon. So we are just trying to figure it all out. After we had lunch and went to go help Ms. Debbie out. Ms. Debbie is an older lady and we go over about every week to help her do house work. She is a very nice lady and isn't ready right now to hear the gospel but we still go over to help her out. Over time her heart with soften and maybe one day she will be converted. 

Sunday was my birthday. I was awoken by Sister Durtschi and the elders on the phone singing me Happy Birthday. It was very sweet, also Sister Durtschi decorated the whole apt with things that you had sent. She also made me breakfast. She is the best!! Then I got all ready and opened up my package. It was great to read all of the letters and also the books and shirts. I am truly grateful for everything. Then we got to church and was waiting for Kyah to show up. Finally I had to go up to seat in the front. I was the first speaker and was just asked to introduce myself and tell a little bit about me. It went really great and just shared with them how I decided to come on a mission. Right when I sat down, Kyah and her kids came in and she did a little wave to me. I was so happy that she could make it. Also during sacrament, a young adult from the ward came up to do a musical number. He sang, "I Heard Him Come". It was really good and could really feel the spirit and was filled with Christ's love. After sacrament meeting, I hurried and went down to catch Kyah. I got to give her a hug and she wished me a Happy Birthday. It was so great that she could come but we were really upset because no members introduced themselves to her. We are trying to get her socially converted and we are having problems with that so we just hope that next time the members are more friendly. After church, we got to go out with Sister Morrill and her daughter (Bishop's wife and daughter). We got to go see Bro Bennett and got to review the Restoration with him. He remembers a lot of it but we slowly turned to talking about war. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has 3 purple hearts. This man has gone through a lot and we are hoping that we can just help him out. After they dropped us off and we got a couple things done, then we walked over to the Turley's. They are such a great family and I love being with them. We had a really great dinner and had great conversations. Also when we were there, the STL's (Sister Burgess and Sister Mitchell) and the Zone Leaders (Elder Hill and Elder Eggimann) called me and sang Happy Birthday to me. It was really nice of them to do that. I had a really good day having my birthday out in the mission field. So very thankful for all of the love that I feel from everyone. 

Guess what, I get to talk with y'all in about 2 weeks. I am so excited to talk with y'all!! I love and miss y'all and hope you have a blessed week!!

Sister McKenna O'Connor

 Thank you for all the birthday cards and gifts

Greenville, MS district

Hobbit House

Greenville, MS Here I Come!

April 18, 2016

Hey Family,

So as you know, I am in Greenville, MS. It is very different from the coast but it has it's own beauty. There are a bunch of fields up here and pretty open.

So the drive was pretty long on Tuesday, but we all had a lot of fun on the way up. It was great to get to Clinton, it has been 6 months since I have been here. Also it was pretty cool to see a bunch of my old companions. Then they got all of us together and I found out that I was going to Greenville to be with Sister Durtschi. She is from Carey, Idaho she has a brother on a mission in New Zealand and has twin sisters back at home. She has been out a year on the 22nd. I love her so much, we have talked so much these last 6 days then I have the last couple months. We get a long so great and have a vision for Greenville and I am so excited to see where it goes. So Greenville is about 2 hrs away from Clinton so we are kind away from other missionaries. My district is: Elder Shreenan, Taeatafa, Ross, Butterfeild, Sister Durtschi, and myself. So right when we got to Greenville, we dropped my stuff off and we went to go see Kyah. So Kyah was a former investigator and Sister Durtschi and Sister Demo tracted into her about 2 weeks ago. Her biggest concern that we knew of was baptism.  The spirit guided us to go over the baptism questions with her. She got every answer correct the only problem is word of wisdom. She likes her coffee and has a few smokes here or there. But we were able to help her substitute coffee for coke. We promised her if she didn't have coffee for 2 days, then we would bring her a pack of coke. But other then that, she is so great. It has such a great experience and the spirit was so strong. I haven't felt this way for a while. Also we have so much in common. She also did Color Guard and also was bullied, so it was so great to talk with her. I feel like this is why I am in Greenville.

We tried a lot of people these last couple days and not everyone was home or too busy. We got to go out with the Turley's to visit some less-active out in Hollandale (we have a lot of cities in our area). Also we are part of the Monroe Stake but it is kind of hard to get there. So I have been in 4 stakes on my mission.

So on Sunday, we had church and it was pretty different then from Ocean Springs. About 30 people were in church and it was really different. It was great to meet everyone and getting to know them. But we will be focusing a lot on less-actives and trying to make the ward stronger. Also we had interviews with President Olson in Greenwood. So right after church, we headed up there. It was really great to get to meet with him and his wife. Interviews with President went so good, probably the best one yet. He went over my mission application with me and was very impressed with all that I have done. Also I got to ask her what the process is for transfers, and I told him how I thought that I had gotten sent out to banishment. But he told me that it wasn't like that and that the spirit helped guide of where people need to go so that gave me a lot of comfort.

After we drove over to the Turley's for dinner and we had a lot of fun there. They are such a great family.

Can y'all believe that I will be 21 on Sunday.  I love y'all so much and can't believe I only have about 4 and a half months left till I come home.Time truly flies!!! Hope y'all have a great week!!

Love and Miss y'all!!!!!!
Sister McKenna O'Connor  

6 of my 9 mission companions


God be with you til we meet again Ocean Springs!

April 11, 2016

Hey Family,

So we got transfer calls this morning from the Zone Leaders and I am going back up to Jackson. Not sure what area and who I am getting until tomorrow. Little disappointed about not leaving MS but for some reason, Heavenly Father wants me back up in Jackson. Sister Poulson is going back to Utah. She is coming home early for medical reasons. So we are just going to be getting everything ready for the two new sisters coming in Ocean Springs. I am super sad leaving this area and all of the wonderful people that I have been able to meet here. I love everyone here and the memories that I have been able to create. So grateful that I could serve 6 months here.

So we got to help out Monday morning with a funeral for a members dad who passed away. We got to set everything up and it was truly a miracle with all the people that helped out. We feared that we wouldn't have enough food but it turned out that we had plenty leftover. It was amazing how many people helped out to lighten a load off a family. After, we got to start walking to see Carla Cannon and on our way, Sister Stewart pulled right next to us and gave us a ride. And when we pulled up, Carla got really excited to see Sister Stewart (Sis Stewart was Carla's Laurel advisor in YW's). We all got to talk for a little bit and got to invite Carla to watch General Conference. She was so happy to see us and we always love visiting with her. Then we went out with Ashley to go out to eat and to see around Ocean Springs.

So on Tuesday, we were walking around to visit with people and we didn't have much success but we got to visit with Sister Stewart and her great-grand son Keagon. We got to chat with them for a good time and then she was so sweet and took us out for ice cream. Sister Stewart is so great and I am so thankful for her.

On Wednesday we had ZTM and they told us some new things about the mission. So with transfers, we don't get calls now until Monday morning. Which is really crazy but it will help the mission. Then we talked about using the Book of Mormon more and also about Ward Councils. It was a really great meeting.

So it was a great day on Thursday, we got to go out with Ashley to see Allen and Brett. We got to visit with Allen for a little bit and got to talk more about the Book of Mormon. We started reading in 2 Nephi 2, but then his legs started to contract and we could tell that he was in pain so we left him to read the rest of it. Then we went and tried Brett but he was busy taking care of sick kids so we scheduled to see him Sunday. Then we tried Jolynn and we got to visit with her for a quick min. We invited her to watch some of General Conference.Then Ashley took us out to lunch and we always love getting to hang with her. She does so much for us and I am really grateful for her and her mom. After, we went to the church to meet with the special  AP's (They drive around the mission to talk with us. Not the AP's). We got to ask them questions about the mission and any concerns that we have. It was a really cool experience. Then we got to go out to dinner with Bobbi and her kids. We ate at Fisherman's Wharf and then went to the Hard Rock Casino to get Ben and Jerry's (We didn't go into the casino, haha!!). Got to take some cool pictures and then we called it a night.

So you will be really proud of me. We helped Bobbi with her lawn on Saturday and I mowed her whole lawn and I was dang tired after, haha! She lives on a little hill so that was fun pushing the mower up and down. But I felt like home doing lawn work on a Saturday morning ( and I didn't say, "I'm Done"). After we hurried and ran home to get ready to go out with Sister Cardon for lunch. We had less than 30 mins for both of us to shower and get ready but we did it. We went out to Newk's and then we went to see a less-active and her grand-daughter. We had a really good visit, they like to talk so we had to find a way to get out. It was so great to go out with Sister Cardon and am so thankful for all that she and her family has done for me. After we had to take the car in to get checked but we couldn't find Firestone and we got stuck in traffic (They have Black Spring Break down here). Then we got to go to the Chesley's for dinner. We had such a great time there laughing and talking about a lot of things. We also talked about General Conference and we had a great discussion. They are such a great family and we will for sure have to visit them in Hawaii.

So Sunday was my last time in the Ocean Springs Ward. We talked about conference talks. It was a really good day but it didn't sink in that I was leaving cause we didn't find out till today. But got to see a lot of people. After church we went and saw Allen. He was able to read the rest of 2 Ne 2. We got to figure out a little bit more about him and what he believes in. We also got to our purpose and why we are out on a mission. Then we got to invite him to watch conference and he said he will watch a few. It was so great and I really hope he watches them and feels the spirit. We got to stop by Brett and he was busy but we got to talk for a min and leave him a question of the soul from Preach My Gospel. He wonders what the purpose of life is, so we left him Alma 34. Every time we see him, some thing changes a little bit. Not sure what it is but hopefully it will help him focus a little more on what we are teaching him. We then got to visit Sister Leonard and she is such a sweet lady and loves when we come over. It's her birthday today, so we left a couple of cute notes for her to find. We after got to visit with Thelma and Ashley. They are so fun and gave me a cute good-bye gift. They do so much for us and I am going to miss them.
Again I am extremely grateful for serving on the coast in Ocean Springs. It has been just like home and I will miss it so much. Thankful that Heavenly Father let me be here for 6 months. I can't believe that I have 3 transfers left. Time goes by so fast and I am excited to go to a new area and start a new adventure.

Love and Miss y'all!!!!!
Sister McKenna O'Connor  

All my beads
 Gator sign
 Chelsey Family
 Ashley Thomas
 The Haley Family
 The Scaturo Family

 Lawn I helped mow
 The Shumaker Family
 Sister Stewart
 Sister Leonard
 Thelma Thomas

General Conference

April 4, 2016

Hey Family,

Looks like y'all have had a fun filled week with getting to be in Cali. Hope y'all are enjoying it!  

On P-day, we got to go walk Downtown Ocean Springs and it was pretty fun.  We got to talk to a couple of people. We got to go tracting a little bit this week, we are in need of finding new investigators. While tracting, we got to meet this guy named Allen. Allen is in a wheelchair and a pretty nice guy. We got to share with him the Restoration. It felt so great to share it with him and so happy that the spirit was there to help. He was listening to everything we were sharing and he was willing to read from the Book of Mormon. We set up an return appt. so we will hopefully see him this week. We also were able to go try Ashley, one of our potentials but when we got there she wasn't there. Brett answered the door which we have seen him a couple times but we finally were able to talk with him a little bit about the church and a few things we believe in. After while we were in the car about to leave, a car pulled up and it was Ashley. SO we hurried and got out of the car and to talk with Ashley and her friend. It was nice to finally get to visit with her after such a long time. We set a return appointment with her also. Which when we went over there for the return appointment we took Sister Stewert. But when we got there, Ashley wasn't there but Brett was there so we got to talk with him and share with him the Restoration. And we were so surprised with some of the things he was sharing. He knows a lot about the Bible and he was basically agreeing with everything we were sharing and it was awesome. We got to leave him a Book of Mormon and will see him tomorrow, so pray that it will go well. Wednesday night, we had the last part of the Missionary experience for the youth. We went over what we learned last time and the youth then got to teach to investigators (members). We got to peek through the door windows and watch how they were doing and everyone was doing well. When they finished, we got back together and talked a little bit. The investigators said that they did a really good job which was great to hear. Bishop Williams concluded the night talking to them and was proud of them doing this. It was a great experience and hopefully we can do it again. Oh so crazy story, we finished weekly planning on Friday and it had been raining ALL day. So when we were done, we went to see if there was any mail and its pouring outside and of course, no mail. SO were walking back and then we start running back cause its pouring, and all of a sudden, the sky lights up and we hear this loud crash. So we start booking it back and I slip and fall in the grass. I'm covered in mud and I broke an umbrella. It was really scary, we were shaking after it.
Saturday morning, we got to go help with Bishop's Storehouse which it is probably my last one which is kind of sad. I always love helping out there and serving others. After we went with the Biloxi Sisters and went to do service at a members house and got to watch the first session. Then we went to the church for lunch and the Skiles fed us and we had this really cool experience. The Skiles were sharing experiences from when they go to the Temple and Brother Skiles bore his testimony and it was so powerful and was so great. It was the best to experience something like this between sessions. Then we got to watch the afternoon session and after we got to go to Ashley's house to have dinner. She made shrimp and grits which was the first time I have had grits and they were...interesting. Then we had blackberry cobbler for dessert and that was really good. Sunday morning, I did what we always do, made scones. It made me feel right at home. I made a bunch and gave a few to the Elders which they really liked them. 

I really enjoyed this Conference and all the things I was able to take from the speakers. I loved getting to hear from President Monson and even though his talk was short, it was such a powerful message. I really enjoyed Elder Hollands and how powerful it was and a great way to end the Conference. I loved all the talks and am looking forward to reading them and listening to them again. Also you saw that we had dinner with the Cardons after the last session and I am so grateful for everything they have done for me. They are leaving this weekend to go on a cruise so this would have been the time to take our picture. And right before that, I started to cry because this was going to be the last time, and Bro Cardon didn't realize it. So very thankful for them and this is always the hardest part of missionary work, leaving. 

Love y'all so much and miss you!!!
Sister McKenna O'Connor

Bishops Storehouse

Cardon Family

Conference Sunday Tradition....Scones!