Hello friends! :) I am currently serving as a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Nebraska Omaha Mission. I'll be emailing home every week for the 18 months that I'm in the Cornhusker state; my amazing mom will be the one posting them on this here blog. Interested in church history? Come on down to the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters and I might just be there to give you a tour!

"As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Monday, November 23, 2015

Squirrel!‏ November 23, 2015

Hey y'all! My first day at the trail center was awesome! I was able to
take this lady named Angie on a tour and she was super open minded
about everything and accepted a Book of Mormon! She said she'll bring
her daughter back for the gingerbread festival. WHICH IS THE BEST
THING EVER! The whole place smells amazing and makes me so hungry but
it's like a Christmas wonderland and I promise to send pictures soon!
Some of these houses are nicer than real houses...I can't imagine how
much time people spent on them!.
Sister Strong and I had the opportunity the visit the cutest elderly
couple named the Bebe's. They are in their late 80s, she's been a
Catholic her whole life and he doesn't have a religion but will
occasionally go with her. We spent a long time talking about our
different values and I don't know how open they are to learning more
but we are hoping to go back some time to chat with them again because
they are so sweet.
Random thought: the other night for a snack I had an apple and a
banana and then that "I like to eat apples and bananas" song got stuck
in my head forever. If it just got stuck in yours, you're welcome. ;)
Zone conference was so much fun! Never before could I say that I enjoy
sitting through a 7 hour meeting but the mission does crazy things to
ya! Elder Martino from the quorum of the seventy came and spoke to us.
We talked about how to make time count, how important the members are
in helping our investigators, charity, and how we shouldn't make
excuses. He said to eliminate the word "yea-but" from our vocabulary.
He's a funny guy! Very smart, spiritual, and inspiring too. I believe
he just spoke in the last session of general conference so go read his
talk if you have time!
We have a new investigator!!! Her name is Christy and we're teaching
her whole family at a member family's house tonight and it will be
grand and glorious! We feel really good about her so I'll be sure to
let you know next week how it goes. :)
I love you all and Happy Thanksgiving!! Eat lots of turkey.
Sister Irwin
P.S. There are squirrels everywhere. Literally everywhere. Sometimes I
feel like Doug from Up.
P.S.S. It snowed the tiniest bit ever on Friday and we thought we
would get more but you don't hear me complaining! We ate dinner with
the Snyder family and we had chili spaghetti since it's their
tradition to make it on the first snow day of the year and it was
different but delicious. :)

Greetings from Omaha! November 16, 2015

Hey y'all! I finally made it to Nebraska and let me tell you, it is
wonderful! It was raining last Wednesday when we got here, but the sun
has been out a few times to warm things up. The people here are so
friendly and the houses are so cute with white picket fences and
little chimneys! The landscape is gorgeous here too. :) President and
Sister Gardner greeted us at the airport and took us to the mission
office. They are so amazing I love them so much! As soon as we walked
in, the smell of cinnamon rolls filled my nose and I knew that we were
about to be fed well! Later that day we went on a tour of the Mormon
Trail Center! It is so cute and all decorated for Christmas already.
My first shift is tomorrow - I can't wait!!.

On Thursday night we had a special dinner/testimony meeting at the
Gardner's home. They are some of the most genuine and loving people I
know, I'm so grateful to be serving with such wonderful people! Then
on Friday was transfers and I met my new companion! Her name is Sister
Strong and she will be my trainer and "mom" for the next few months!
She is so kind and we get along so well. We are in the Walnut Creek
Branch and live in a member's basement. She is a middle aged woman
named Sister Flynn, and she has a dog also named Sasha! What are the

Saturday morning we were able to attend a temple marriage ceremony of
two of the senior missionaries that serve in the trail center. I'm so
grateful for the blessing of temples and that there's one in my
mission. The temple grounds and pioneer memorial cemetery have such a
peaceful and sacred feeling about them. I love the pioneers and am
glad to have the opportunity to learn more about them in this unique
mission. I know that their trials and sacrifices helped the church
become what it is today and I am forever grateful for all of my

Just one last thing before I go: Sister Strong and I were tracting the
other day and crossed paths with a carpet cleaning salesman putting
fliers on peoples doors. We ended up walking with him and taught him
the restoration! We both agreed that was the most interesting way to
give a lesson but hey it worked because he wanted to learn more so we
gave him a Book of Mormon and contacted the missionaries in his area!

Love you all so much!
Sister Irwin

P.S. The group picture was of some of us on the last night at the MTC.
It was taken a little after 11pm - about 3 hours before we needed to
be up and ready to leave for the airport....
The other picture is of my awesome trainer and companion!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Train from Temple Square to the MTC November 7, 2015

I received an unexpected text and picture from a woman who had just met Stephanie and 3 other sister missionaries on a train returning from Temple Square. She told me that she was paying it forward because she had received the same type of texts and pictures when her own daughter was serving. How kind!

Time Traveling November 6, 2015

Hello all!! :) So on Saturday night I did something that I've never experienced before..daylight savings! UT is now the same time AZ because I guess they "fall back" in the fall. How weird! I love Sundays here at the mtc because instead of just being in classes for 9 hours we have a bunch of meetings and get to listen to some awesome speakers. This past week the whole mission met for a conference and the topic was on families. Families are so great and I know we're in the ones that we are for a reason! I'm grateful for mine and all of their support for the past 19+ years and I love them so much. If you haven't today already, go tell your fam that you love them! Guess what else I love?? Christmas! There are lights already being set up outside and they're BEAUTIFUL. I can't wait for the holidays!

This past week was a sad one because we said goodbye to all of our elders! They have grown so much in just the two weeks that I've known them! Afterwards, the girls in my room and I cried all the way down the five flights of stairs and ate half of our candy stash when we got back to our residence hall. :/ Although it was hard to see them go, I know they will be awesome out in the field! Before our zone leaders left I was able to get a blessing of comfort from them. It's common for a lot of sisters to do that before they leave the mtc, and I don't leave until next Wednesday but I got so close to our ZLs that I wanted them to be the ones to give me it. The blessing was just what I needed, and some of what was said when I got set apart was even repeated. Blessings are the best. :)

Exciting news! I started visitors center training this week and there's 20 of us sisters! It's amazing to think that there are over 88,000 missionaries currently serving, and only 600 something are at a visitors center/historic site. These girls that I'm spending time with are from all parts of the world! Besides the US, they're from Honduras, Korea, Switzerland, Philippines, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and Spain. Talk about diversity! They are all so sweet and it's such a privilege to work with them. It strengthens my testimony of God's love for all His children no matter what part of the world they come from. Okay small world, there's a sister here named Kayli Bowen from Gilbert (a lot of you probably know her). Apparently she was also in the San Marcos singles ward before we got here and we never met until now! Something even more awesome is one of our teachers also served in Winter Quarters! It's nice to have the inside scoop of what to expect. :) Learning about visitors centers and what we get to do is so much fun! There's this whole online chat system where people can ask questions about the church and we get to teach them. Sister Hutchison and I already got to chat with two people yesterday!

Well that's about it for this week! 

Love you all so much!
-Sister Irwin :)

PS. This with Sister Hutchison and our cute investigator Ivy who dressed up as toothpaste for Halloween! I'll send more pictures in a reply to this email because the computers are still being dumb with attachments so my apologies. :)

I'm Having Twins?!?‏ October 30, 2015

Anyahaasayo!! That means hello in Korean. :)

Soo you're probably wondering what the heck the title of this email means...I'm not going to say until the end muahahaha.

Well I've been here at the good ol' MTC for a little over a week now! The first couple of days went by incredibly slow but now it seems like time is moving way too fast. I don't know if I already said this but I LOVE my district! We walked to the temple on Sunday and took a bunch of pictures. (The group one left to right is Elder Labbee, Elder Seachriest, Elder Kelly, Elder Flukiger, Sister Orton, Sister Chappell, Sister Hutchison, and moi) We already feel like such a close family and I can't believe the elders are leaving for Houston, Texas and Lansing, Michigan next Wednesday! That will be a sad day. All of the first letters in our last names make up the words "HIS FLOCK" so that's what we decided to name our district. Cool huh? :) We got to play sand volleyball during gym time the other day and that was an absolute blast! We have so many inside jokes with each other it's great! I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my entire life. We always break out in song at random times and I think it's because we're all having withdrawals from listening to music so we just make our own. Fun fact - my companion can make a monkey sound that is scary accurate like the real deal. The other night at dinner, we raced a guy for the last piece of cheesecake haha! He won..but then they brought out more and it was delicious. That's another thing I love about the MTC; the food here is amazing! There's this really good strawberry, banana, orange juice that our teacher nicknamed "trinity juice" when he served and the name caught on.

Our branch president is like a walking scripture. He spits out verses in the middle of conversations and literally yells them to people as they walk by! He's such an awesome and inspiring man and he has lots of connections to people. He told us a story about attending President Hinkley's last birthday party! But seriously, how cool would it be to hang out with the prophet?? Speaking of birthdays...s/o to my girls Abby and Annie who both turned 19 this week! Hope you ate lots of cake. :)

There's a choir here that meets twice a week and on Tuesday night I sang at a devotional! Never in my life have I heard that big of a group sound that good with as little practice as we had. We sang a gorgeous arrangement of More Holiness Give Me, and man oh man I got chills! The men especially sounded amazing! I'm so happy I get to be in choir here but I really miss LoLyf and the Treblemaker fam. I hope the Chandler choir concert went well!

So more about the devotional: Elder Andersen came and spoke to us and it was awesome! He talked about how opposition makes us stronger, and how sacrifice is a necessary principle that helps us become more like Christ and think about "what can I give?" instead of "what can I get?" from my mission. It's been a little hard adjusting to mission life but I've never been happier. Some of you may be dealing with a difficult problem right now but I promise you can overcome whatever it is. Start looking for tender mercies, or the small little miracles, in every day and trust me you will see how much God loves you! These are just a few of the ones I've witnessed so far: 1. It's easier to fall asleep now but the first night was hard for everyone. On the ceiling in our room there are glow in the dark stars and they're oddly comforting to look at. I love stargazing and now I can from under the covers every night before going to bed! 2. Our classroom that we're in has the most beautiful view of the Provo mountains. My desk is perfectly positioned so that every morning I can watch the sun rise over the Y. 3. I found a ladybug on the stairs and saved it from being squished. It became our class pet! 4. My companion lost her voice earlier this week and could barely talk, but when we taught our lesson with our first investigator she could speak normal through the whole thing. We walked out of the room and then she couldn't talk again. 

That last mini miracle takes me to my next topic! Sister Hutchison and I have been teaching a girl named Ivy this week! She is such a sweetheart I love her! She moved from Taiwan about a year ago because she won the green lottery ticket and she's currently studying at UVU to become a third grade teacher. She comes from a Buddhist background but she's super interested in learning about our church and always asks the best questions. We've had some cool experiences with her and I won't go into detail unless you ask, but basically we taught her how to pray and that was one of the best moments ever. I've learned that one must become a missionary and not a motionary. These are real people and we need to teach them - not just teach lessons.

OKAY I guess I've made you wait long enough! Back in January, I went on a choir trip to New Orleans and a group of friends and I got our palms read. One of the things the lady told me was that on October 28th I would receive two things in the mail and one of them would be legal. Fast forward to this past Wednesday, October the 28th. I GOT A LETTER AND A NEW DEBIT CARD. I'm guessing the debit card counts as something legal because it's from a bank but the point is the palm reader also said that some day I will have four kids and two of them will be twins. *insert shocked emoji here*

One last thing before I end this novel, if you're interested my mom will be putting my emails and pictures up on a blog once she figures out how! You can visit it as Before I got my mission call I really wanted to go French speaking. I thought it would be funny to somehow incorporate that in my blog so that's the story behind it. "Life in corn". I found out from an elder who actually is learning French on his mission that corn is maize! The more you know. :)

I love you all so much! TTFN! 

-Sister Irwin :)

P.S. Why do missionaries always cross their legs? ......Because they only have one P day! ;)

Elder Mackay ran into Sister Irwin at the MTC.  Both were babies in Galveston 1st Ward before the Oakeys moved.

Greetings from the MTC! October 23, 2015

Hello friends and family! :)

I've survived my first three days at the missionary training center! Provo is beautiful and the temperature is really nice during the day. Wow. There's so much I want to say but I'll try to keep it as short as I can. I was lucky to fly out of Phoenix on Wednesday with about ten other missionaries, and then we took a shuttle from the airport together which was nice. As soon as we pulled up to the curb, there were elders and sisters already waiting with huge smiles to help us with our luggage and show us where we needed to go. We got our name tags first thing and I keep looking down in awe/disbelief that it's really real! On your first day you get an orange sticker on it aka the dork dot which basically says "Hi I'm new and freaking out because I have no idea what I'm doing!" It's cool though; everyone is SUPER nice and friendly and I think I was told "welcome to the mtc" at least 5719231 times. It stills feels like I'm in a dream, but when all the new missionaries met at orientation we sang Called to Serve and I think that's when it finally hit me. My companion is Sister Hutchison and she is awesome! We are so much alike it's crazy. There are two other sisters in our room that will also be going to the Winter Quarters visitor's center; Sister Orton and Sister Chappell. We call ourselves the Nebrasquad. Our district meets in a classroom on the 5th floor every day at least twice and if I don't have nice calves by the end of these three weeks I will be greatly disappointed! My teachers are Sister Lyons and Brother Wright; they are the flipping best! Bro. Wright has a lot of weird sayings and one of them is when he talks about something he really likes he "loves the garbage" out of it. I thought that was funny! He also told a story about how on his mission he met an investigator with a difficult past. Apparently he had committed a serious crime and had never told anyone except for the missionaries right then and there. They taught him about repentance and told him the way to get a clear conscious and forgiveness from God was to turn himself in. After that lesson they stopped hearing from. A couple months later, Bro. Wright received a letter from the state penitentiary. The man had turned himself in and was sentenced to fourteen years of prison. Although he was behind bars, he said he had never felt more free in his life. He was reading the Book of Mormon and had a change of heart. He's looking forward to the day he is released so he can be baptized. This is just one of the incredible stories that I've heard! We have been crazy busy with lessons learning about everything from daily planning to extending invitations, and how to relate to investigators to our purpose as missionaries. We're already planning a lesson to teach to a fake investigator tomorrow and it's only the third day! My goal before Sunday is to memorize our purpose which is "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement. repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

Yesterday morning the Nebrasquad and the other two sisters in our room (Sister Costly and Sister Moulton - we call them our grandmas because they were our trainers' trainers) woke up a half hour earlier to take a yoga class! That was greatly needed and a nice start to the day. Tomorrow morning we are going to take a jog around the temple. We also met our branch presidency last night, President Laney is hilarious and kept cracking jokes during the entire meeting! He reminded us that it's good to smile. :) I want to say so much more but my time on the computer is almost up! I want to wrap this up by saying this is definitely an experience like no other. I feel like I've already been here for sooo long. They say the first couple of days go by really slow..they aren't kidding. I've never been this tired in my life, but I've also never felt the spirit so strong. I'm learning so much left and right, I feel like a little sponge (shout out to Buren for that analogy) just trying to soak up as much as I can and taking as many notes as possible. I know I'm here for a reason, I may not know it yet but one day I will. I know that Heavenly Father knows us personally and loves all of us with an infinite love.

I am so excited to see what the near future brings! I love you all and hope everyone at home is doing well!

Sister Irwin