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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The last melon May 15, 2017

WOW where did the time go??

This is it friends! The last email that Sister Irwin will ever write. It's been a good ride in the good life. It can't get NE better than this. 

Thursday was our departing interviews with President Gardner. I cried like a baby then just sat in the mission office and waited for district meeting to start. Sweet secretary Sister Gareis gave me a spoon so I could cry in my applesauce and eat it too. It was greatly appreciated. Afterwards, Sam had his baptismal interview! It went awesome. Elder Grey said it was one of the best he's ever had! 

Saturday was Florence Days celebrating 150 years of Nebraska statehood and 170 years of the pioneers! It was an adventure with a mix of emotions too with departing testimonies at trail center training. We had birthday breakfast and then it was off to sing outside the old mill with a small group of sisters. The best past was that I ran into Diana there!! :) It was a pleasant surprise for both of us because she thought I had already left. She is just the best ever. I love her! Then it was off to Sam's baptism!! It was so so good. Word's can't even express. Dustin baptized Sam and they only had to do it once. Afterwards he gave two thumbs up!

Sam got confirmed yesterday on Mother's Day. It was bittersweet because his mom actually passed away a few years ago. I know she was smiling down on her son yesterday because that was the greatest gift a mom could ever ask for. We are all so excited for him to go to the temple to do his family's work. 

Well, I guess I'll end by sharing my testimony of our Savior and his gospel. I've been studying The Living Christ found here
What a remarkable journey it has been as one of his representatives. I know He lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer, and this is His church restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know we are lead by a living prophet today, and that that the priesthood power and authority is the only thing that can seal our families together for time and all eternity. The Book of Mormon is the word of God written for our day. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father letting me serve a full time mission. It has changed my life.
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!"

Sister Irwin

1. Temple trip
2. Almost expired
3. Sam dunk!! :)
4. Matching after the baptism
5. Take the road less traveled
6. Church is true

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Little pioneer children May 9, 2017

Hello friends!

This is going to be super condensed because temple. Friday was awesome! We had a lesson with Patricia and she loved the message of the Restoration. Her and John had been reading The Book of Mormon together and are trying to encourage their other roommate Andy to join in. Then we went to dinner with Dustin and Jessica at Red Robin which was a party because bottomless fries. Later, we had another lesson with Sam and Kent came with us! He had already learned about tithing and fast offering from a meeting with Bishop that he had the night before! He's such a pro. We are trying to get the program for his baptism in order for this Saturday. I am so excited!!! He is so ready. I hope and pray his dad and friends will come to support him. It's going to be sweet.

On Saturday all the trail center sisters went on a field trip to some historic sites in Iowa. It's incredible to think my ancestors were here some 150+ years ago. I'm so grateful for their sacrifice, faith, and diligence, and trust in the Lord. There is no way the pioneers could have done what they did without the help of God. I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ.

Sister Irwin

1. They sang and made me eat ice cream dang it Dustin
2. Missouri River!
3. Group picture for the first field trip 
4. Last zone conference
5. This is why #1 is so funny (we're all lactose intolerant) 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Bless her and her family with rays of sunshine" May 2, 2017

Hello hello!
We were on shift yesterday so that's why we're emailing today. Next week our P day will be on Tuesday again because it's our temple day, so don't be surprised when your inbox is empty again on Monday. :)

Sam is on fire!!!! He is killing the game. If the gospel was a game? It's not. It's really serious stuff. But still, he's doing so well. We were able to meet with him 5 times this past week! We set him for May 13th, and he said "Yea man let's do it!" Ahh!! :D Word of wisdom? Law of chastity? Fasting? No problem. We asked him who of his friends he could share the gospel with and he said they all need it. We taught Sam about keeping the Sabbath day holy yesterday. Before that, on Sunday, he was about to call an uber to drive him home and we mentioned that we try not to have others work on Sundays; he ended up walking home! He is so awesome. 

Sunday was actually a super duper exciting day! The Council Bluffs YSA ward combined with ours, so we had a TON of new people at church. It was packed! And if that wasn't exciting enough...we had not one, not two, but SEVEN non members at church! *happy tears* It definitely wasn't all from us, some of our members brought their friends because they're cool like that. Bishop Biggs taught a combined second hour class, and he really stressed the idea of loving everybody. No matter who they are or what they do, love them anyway! He also talked about what we can do to have the Spirit with us always:
*Remember the Savior
*Study the scriptures
*Love others
*Prepare for the sacrament

On teaching center I was able to have a lesson with a sweet lady named Virginia over the phone. She had a rough upbringing and ended up running away at age 12. She recognized the voice of the Spirit at an early age, and she said that's what kept her alive on her own. She loves God and wants to be a missionary! Virginia's neighbor came over while we were talking and she asked if she wanted any scriptures for her family as well! She loved the message of the Restoration and ended up saying a beautiful closing prayer. That's where the title of my email comes from this week. :)

Sister Irwin

1-3. FHE minute to win it games (Sam beat Tanner and Nick at an eating contest...and then we gave the rest of the brownies and ice cream to homeless people)
4. Tried alligator at Voodoo Taco!
5. Came home from church just in time to our neighbor's apartment flooding
6. Took Sam on a tour and Bishop's son Josh came too!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Smoothie queens April 24, 2017

This week went by so fast! It's already been a week since we met our awesome new investigator Sam! Last Monday when we got to Walmart we saw a guy who looked YSA sitting by himself on a bench. We went up and talked with him a little about what our purpose is and invited him to FHE that night. He ended up coming and we had a lesson with him afterwards! Then he went and got ice cream with some people from the ward. It was so happy! He came to institute on Wednesday too. We were a little nervous because it was a confusing topic, but he said he enjoyed it! I don't know which is best: the fact that he has so much free time since he's not working and only takes online classes, or him being in Colorado this weekend and still going to church for the first time! Heavenly Father really answered our prayers with him because it seems like none of our other investigators have time for us, and it's been really hard to reach them. Now we can focus most of our time and energy on Sam!

On P-day we also went over to Brookelyn's and made smoothies with her. It was a party. :)

We were able to see David briefly last night! He says even though he's busy he doesn't want us to give up on him. He's seen a huge positive difference in his life since he decided to give Jesus Christ more priority in his life. He even wants us to teach some of his friends! The church is true.

Something inspiring I've learned this week was repeated by a lot of people in different settings. It's the idea of reducing and simplifying. I'm the type of person that loves being busy and I love to-do lists. The problem is, sometimes with people like me we can spend time on things that aren't important - and it distracts from other things that are more important. When overwhelmed with an endless agenda, you might have to ask yourself: "Does it show my love for God?" That one question can help regardless of the situation. Just a thought. :)

Have a superb week! Let your April showers turn into May flowers! 🌷

Sister Irwin

1. 18 months!!!
2. Tag you're it
3. There is sunshine in my sole today 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What's an egg's least favorite day? April 17, 2017

Fry-day! ;)
This week was eggcellent. Allie went to church last week for the first time!!!! She said she loved it a lot. I am so so happy for her and have "seen" her grow so much from phone calls and texting back and forth on teaching center over the course of a few months. She was able to meet the sister missionaries there in Colorado. It was bittersweet emailing them her teaching record, but I know that they're the ones that will help her progress the most!

YSAs are EVERYWHERE. In parking lots by the UNO campus and outside our apartment! There's even a cute YSA girl who lives two floors above us, so we're going to try and see her some day this week.

We also got another referral for a guy, Tika, who speaks French. Our French extraordinaire Spencer is actually currently out of town in France with his parents for a few weeks, so we had to fend for ourselves. We knew we couldn't have a lesson with him, but before we went to drop off his Livre de Mormon I was able to write him a decent length of a text explaining to him what was happening! I definitely know it was the Spirit that helped me dig out the words and conjugations in the corner of my brain from French class 4 years ago! I am so grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we are all promised after baptism through the proper authority of God. :)

Another cool miracle this week was meeting a lady named Donna who let us teach her the Restoration in her front yard! She lived across the street to a house we said we weren't going to try again (for the 4th time I think?) but now we know why we did. The weather was so nice that day; she brought out blankets for us to sit on and we had a great lesson. She was so interested and sincere! We were able to pass her off to a pair of missionaries for a family ward. 

Easter Sunday was awesome! Our investigator John was able to come for all three hours, which is great because he's been MIA lately with his crazy work schedule. He said he loved it, could feel the Spirit the most with the hymns, and it was worth it to come. Sacrament meeting was cool, because Bishop Biggs just called on a bunch of people to share how they had seen the Lord's hand in their life. Then he also shared his testimony. I think that's one of the few times I've ever cried during church because of the Spirit. The mission just gets to ya! Later that day, we were invited by Brother Washington and the Rockbrook sisters to have dinner with them and a few others. Brother Washington is so sweet and loves the missionaries; he gave us all Easter baskets and ham to take home! Then the trio headed to Sami's with some other YSAs and her nonmember friend Emily for dessert and a mean game of "hit the hard boiled egg with a hockey stick" in the park. It was a blast.

Sister Irwin

1. The Zone!
2. Temple with Sisters Svensson and Bailey
3. Gorgeous temple grounds 
4. Easter treats and Easter meats

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Swede life April 10, 2017

Guess who's in another trio??? Yours truly! Sister Janson and I are now with Sister Svensson, from Sweden! She is so awesome, and the best thing is....we are dying together! It's so funny because we joke about it all the time that Sister Janson is kicking us both out. Fun fact, Sister Svensson's friend in the Minnesota Minneapolis is companions with Julia Ward! Small world. :)

The Papillion stake conference was this weekend. There were so many great talks on listening to the Spirit, making scripture studies the most efficient, and blessings of the temple! The most exciting news of all: Walnut Creek Branch is now Walnut Creek Ward! Ahh! My mission dream has come true and my baby area is growing! I squealed and almost jumped out of my seat when they announced it. I got to talk with a lot of old friends who feel like family now. It turns out that Bailey who has been going to school in Lincoln, comes back on the weekends. We got her number from Sister Snyder and we are going to set up a time to meet with her soon.

I am so excited for Easter! There's a different video on how to find peace through the Prince of Peace for every day this week at I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ. I want to end by sharing a scripture from The Book of Mormon.
Mosiah 16:6-9

And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.
And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

Sister Irwin

1. Trio life!!!
2. The Henry's granddaughters came to visit (they're older sister is serving at the Washington DC visitor center)
3. Flowers are blooming🌷

Thursday, April 6, 2017

1/70,946 April 3, 2017

If you didn't get the title of this email, it's the number of full time missionaries in 2016!

Anyways, this week was so good! I feel like so many things happen so I'll try to sum them all up. On Tuesday we had a hand off lesson from the Elmwood sisters for their investigator Johnathon. He's Buddhist but has an interested in learning more about Jesus Christ! 

Wednesday was a jam-packed day of miracles! It rained the whole day outside but the sun was still shining in our eyes! Somehow we had three back to back lessons and timing and team ups and everything worked perfectly. Mason brought David to the trail center for a tour. It was so good. He hasn't had coffee for four days! Instead, he takes cold showers to help him wake up in the mornings. Ahh he is progressing! :) Also, we found out that his mom is actually a less active member of the church! After David left, we weren't sure if Dave was still going to come, so we said a prayer with some other sisters, and he called not even 10 minutes later! We gave him a tour as well, and it was good that no one else came because he really opened up to us and we were able to find out his needs. We showed him #princeofpeace and he really really wants to believe that it's all true. He's still praying and reading his scriptures to come to know for himself that there is a God. I'd love and appreciate it if everyone could pray for him to have his heart softened that he may be able to recognize the Spirit witness to him that Heavenly Father is there and that his prayers are answered.

Oh my goodness Allie! We were able to have another lesson over the phone with my online investigator and she is doing fantastic!! She still hasn't been able to go to church, but she says she watches conference talks, reads more in her scriptures, and her friend tells her what they studied in church for them to discuss it. She is on fire!

Other exciting news from this week: 
Sister Church was in town for a training and came and visited!! She's been in Kearney the past few transfers. Sister Janson and I attended a baptism for a guy named Danny on Saturday. He'll be moving into our ward! Then we went out to eat with some of the girls that were also there. 

Conference was so good!! We watched all of the sessions at the trail center, except for Sunday afternoon we went over to Alyssa's and Ellen's. The Elmwood sisters have ANOTHER referral for us and they brought her there. She's super nice but I can't remember her name! It's really hard to pronounce. I love love love hearing from our prophet/apostles/other leaders. As a missionary it's even better than Christmas! Some of my favorite messages:
-follow the Creator instead of following the crowd
-faith leading to action gives us access to godly power
-the Lord provides us with personalized care packages (ie. commandments, scriptures, leaders, family members, etc.)
-the language of the gospel is a universal one
-we can overcome the world through Christ
-scripture study is the channel for the Spirit
-if you don't have a testimony of The Book of Mormon, get one!

I strongly encourage you to watch/listen to conference if you didn't already, or even if you did it's good to go back over them. :) 
The link is here. All you have to do is click. Do it. --->

Sister Irwin

1. Chill Dave! :)
2. District picture with President - Elder Grey "feasts" on the words of Christ very literally...
3. Trio forever - side note. Sister Parsons is going home and I'm going to miss her so so much but we are so proud of our son. ♥
4. Goodbye Nelsons :( - other side note. These are two of the strongest people I know. They had a tragic accident in their family last summer and ended up losing their daughter and granddaughter. They didn't have to come back out on their mission, but they did because they're committed to serving the Lord.
5. After conference ft. Bella the dog

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Banana splits March 27, 2017

Hi friends! :)

I don't have a ton of stuff to talk about; this week really flew by! Sister Janson and I had two awesome tours the same day with the Negleys and Sister Holmstead. They were all members, and were just super spiritual and encouraging. Things are picking up because of Spring break. We love when nonmembers come to the trail center, but we also love our sweet members! :) Both mentioned how this decision to serve will bless us and our families for the rest of our lives. The Negleys just got back a few months ago from a mission, and Sister Holmstead currently has a daughter out on hers. 

Saturday was jammed pack with exciting things! We overbooked ourselves and had two lessons planned for 4:00pm and needed to go on splits. David ended up canceling (we got to see him last night anyway) but we still got members to come and thought it would be fun! Hannah went with Sister Janson to go try some potential investigators, and Alyssa, Elizabeth, and Dustin came with me to see Boris' cousin Lucas! (The ratio for gender always needs to be at least 3 of us if there's a single guy and then we brought our own guy so they could be friends.) It was kind of crazy but they're all RMs so we just took turns teaching! Lucas is interested, he just doesn't understand the priesthood super well yet, but there is hope! 
That night we watched women's conference downstairs at the trail center with most of the other sisters. Everyone brought cookies to share! It made conference even sweeter. I'm super pumped for this weekend as well. I'm so grateful we get to listen to the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the church. It's as if God himself is speaking to us! It's going to be great! #ldsconf

Also...the new Easter initiative starts the end of March!! Get ready for it. #princeofpeace

Sister Irwin

1. new friend Sister Holmstead
2. 17 months😱
3. after the lesson 
4. a missionary's favorite place!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The things they teach are crystal clear... March 20, 2017

...for love is spoken here! ❤

Today has been a crazy day! We were at the temple cleaning from 8 to a little after 12. We got to clean all the crystal which I had never done before; it was so cool! They brought the huge chandelier down and we used these little finger gloves to wipe every single crystal until it was spick and span. (Not that it was even really that dirty in the first place which is why I love cleaning the temple.) There were a lot more missionaries there than usual because of the long list of things to do this time, so the temple presidency was so kind and ordered us all pizza! It was a funny scene with all of us eating in our white scrubs haha. After that, we ran home to switch our laundry because we had an appointment at the auto shop to take our car in for an oil change! They ended up finding some things wrong with our brake pad and rotating the tires and such, so we didn't leave until over 2 hours President says we can make up P-day time for both the temple and the waiting for our car.  

Last Monday, we had a lesson with a family of YSAs! We thought we were going to just meet one, but all of her cousins were over so we taught them all. The most interested was probably the boy. His name is Jamal, but told us to call him Nemo because one of his arms is shorter than the other...He asked a bunch of great questions about The Book of Mormon and prophets! We were supposed to have a return appointment, and it fell through but we're not giving up yet.

Dave is the man! We had another lesson with him and Tanner came along. He's read a little more but still hasn't prayed on his own. He wants to know if God is really there, he's just struggling to find the answer for himself. We told him it takes time, just like learning how to do anything else. We found this awesome video for him, and if you've never seen it here is the link below!

Sister Janson and I spent some more time downtown this week. We met this cool girl named Jocelyn. She was singing and playing her guitar on the popular corner for musicians. I love Old Market so much, it feels like you're in a movie! We listening to a song she wrote, and then she listened to our 3 minute Restoration. We got her number and will hopefully be scheduling an appointment some time soon!

Saturday was the highlight of the week!! President Gardner showed us the new Easter initiative video. It is so good! I can't wait until it actually comes out. Sister Janson and I stopped by Judith's rehab center and took her some cookies. She's moving to another facility in Hastings, so I'm glad we got to say goodbye! The elders already got in contact with the missionaries there so she can continue to have the lessons. Then we hit up Bellevue for yet another baptism!! Amber looked so beautiful and it was so fun to see little Stasia and Sammy again. (Stasia is so funny and can't hold still for more than a minute, so that's why she's a little grumpy in the picture). I got a sticker from her that I put on the back of my name tag! I am so proud of that whole family and I love them to pieces. They have come along way. The Spirit was so strong, and BJ got emotional during the baptism and his talk afterwards. It was a precious jar memory to bottle up for sure. Then it got even better because a few of us sisters went to get Chic fil a for lunch. We had some familiar faces stop by the TC that night! Elders Olsen, Craig, and Wright came back for the sealing of one of their investigators. Sister Parsons and I took the sweetest lady Linda on a tour! She was driving back from South Dakota, on her way to Illinois with a new puppy she had just bought. We were able to testify strongly of how much God loved her, and the importance of tithing. Even more amazing things happened that day that I figured I'd just write in my journal. Twas a good day indeed. :)

Sister Irwin

1. Exchanges with Sister Northrup!
2. Happy baptism day for Amber :)
3. Diana was there too!
4. Bob and Lucy ft. not so sneaky photo bomber Firth
5. The Hettinger family ft. Tanner
6. Most of the Papillion and Omaha Zones at the musical fireside!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Time Traveling pt. 4 March 13, 2017

Hey all you Zonies + other friends! We're now two hours ahead of you again. It's crazy!

Two of the best moments this week happened at gas stations. I've been praying for half my mission to find a guy wearing green at a gas station. The other day we stopped at your neighborhood QT for a bathroom break! I came out of the restroom, and lo and behold Sister Janson was talking to a YSA guy wearing a green shirt that literally said forest green on it! I almost screamed! His name was Carlos and he wrote down his number for us. Everything was great, until we got back in the car and discovered that we couldn't read his handwriting....we tried every combination that we thought it could be, and ended up calling like four wrong numbers....Note to self, always write down other peoples' numbers.

The other gas station miracle: we saw Dave again! He seemed really excited to see us too, and even gave us free food. :) Apparently he has Tuesdays off so we have an appointment with him tomorrow! We're also on exchanges, so I'm secretly hoping I get to be there for it!

Cold Spring is so great! We have another recent returned missionary, Mason, who just got home two weeks ago. We've taken him out for team ups, and also our power sibling duos: RM Spencer and Sami, and RM Hannah and Josh! We love them all, they're on fire!

John and David came to church again! We've met with them a few times and they are slowly but surely progressing! Dustin taught Gospel Principles about the scriptures and he drew this cool looking diagram about prophets. The person on top is God, the one in the middle is the prophet, and we are all the ones in the cave. It's so important that we follow the prophet because it's the only thing that we can see! He's the way to guide us in truth and righteousness. He can see both us and God, and is able to communicate as a middle man. He may be able to see part of the bigger picture, but still not as much as God. Heavenly Father sees the whole picture and knows what's in store for all of us as His children. We need to trust in Him. I know that Joseph Smith was the prophet who restored Jesus Christ's true church. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is the called of God to be the prophet on the earth today. I love the Lord, and I love all of you! Don't dig a deeper hole. Follow the prophet, he knows the way!

Sister Irwin

1. We didn't choose the thug life
2. I have the best companion who makes us breakfast
3. Bowling with the Tremaynes! 🎳
4. Group shot :)
5. Gospel principles

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hair we go again March 6, 2017

Happy news!!! Amber from Bellevue 1st is getting baptized in a few weeks! And the best part is that her husband got the priesthood and is going to be baptizing her!! I can't wait to see them and little Stasia and Sammy again! 😅

Last Tuesday was so awesome! Something I've noticed a lot is the days where the most miracles take place, are sometimes the hardest at first! It started out super rough; it was dark and dreary, planning took way longer than it should have, no one was answering their phone, we drove around from place to place and no one was home, I even dropped my scriptures in the street. :( It wasn't until the end of the day that we decided to try an unlocked apartment complex that Tanner had told us about. We'd been praying for about a week to find a girl with short hair, wearing pink. We almost didn't try this one door because it looked dark through the peephole. We were about to turn away but then music started playing! We knocked and a girl named Sarah opened the door, with short hair...wearing a pink jacket! It was a miracle! :) She was so nice and we started to have a lesson right there one her doorstep, but she wasn't feeling good and needed to go lay down. She actually had come home early from work because she was sick, and if she hadn't we wouldn't have met her! Praying for specifics is something we've been doing all over the mission, and there are SO MANY MIRACLES! 

This week we met Sami who just got put into our ward after the boundary change, and it turns out that she knows Brooke Day! I swear it is such a small world. She's now our new best friend and both her and her brother (he just got home 4 days ago from his mission in Paris!) have come out with a few times for lessons! :) 

Another cool miracle is once upon a time, Sister Janson and I took two ladies on tour. They were both nonmembers and we were struggling to think of a commitment to leave with them. We put them in the video and said a prayer in the study room. Almost instantly I felt like we needed to invite them to do family history, which is so weird because I've never challenged someone who's not a member to do that! I told Sister Janson and she said she was thinking the exact same thing! We told that experience to the ladies, and one of them said she'd been wanting to work on her family history! Wow. I just love the Holy Ghost! I know as we follow promptings from the Spirit, we will be blessed.

We also met with one of our ward missionaries, Manny! He is so cool and I really hope he decides to serve a mission! If there's anyone out there who's debating whether you should serve a mission....just do it! Pray about. See what God says. Act on any prompting you get. I promise it will change your life. Missions are way hard, but the blessings are more than I could ever imagine. "If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work." - D&C 4:3

Sister Irwin

1. Happy belated 16 months ahh!
2. Sami! <3
3. The Bascom's farewell :(
4. What happens when you have a hair stylist in the ward....(colors are less extreme in person)