What makes me happy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

My heart is full

And it's Monday again...

There are so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind I honestly don't even know where to start. It's been an exhausting week, with the last 2 zone conferences, and planning trainings for our Mission Leadership Council, but I've never been happier! I came to realize just how much I love all of the missionaries, members, and people we're teaching here. I never thought it would be possible to get to know so many people, let alone develop a deep love and respect for each of them. Everyone is so incredibly different, but everyone's testimonies of the Restoration, and deep gratitude and love for the Savior are what bring us together. Looking around the room filled with a bunch of 18-22 year old young adults, who are there to forget about themselves and serve others for 18 months-2 years is seriously mind blowing. We are so different from the rest of the world! Also thinking about the countless hours of service and hard work the members of the church around the world spend to fulfill their callings and continually invite others to come unto Christ is a huge testimony builder for me. There is no way any of us would be so self-motivated to do such things if this wasn't the Savior's church, and if He hadn't called us all to do so. It no longer seems like a sacrifice, but a privilege to assist Him and our Heavenly Father in their work and glory! And the blessings, and feelings of complete love and peace we experience as we serve makes it all worth while!

Well I'll do my best to give a summary of who we've been able to teach this past week!

First off. We got to go to the temple and watch 5 of our recent converts do baptisms for the dead! It was THE BEST. My heart was so full I thought it was going to burst. The spirit was so strong, and the converts were so grateful and privileged to help others make a covenant with their Heavenly Father and receive Eternal Life! I love the temple. 

We're still teaching Serena and her boys, and they are really starting to progress! The spirit in her home is completely different from when we first started teaching her, and her boys now sit in and listen/pray with us. She even thanked Heavenly Father for guiding her to His church in her prayer! She was able to stay all 3 hours at church this Sunday and the Relief Society lesson was absolutely perfect for her! As I thanked the teacher at the end, we both ended up getting emotional, as she explained how she had felt very impressed to share certain things that were exactly what Serena needed to hear. I know that revelation from Heavenly Father is very real and it is the only way we can  truly minister to and teach His children the way He wants us to! Serena is working for being baptized on October 3rd! (May have to take a roadtrip.....)

Melissa is also really starting to progress! She called us the other day and said: "I have 2 questions for you. First, where can I get some scripture highlighters/sticky tabs so I can start marking my scriptures up? Second, who can pick me up for church on Sunday??" Talk about the best kind of questions to hear from an investigator! The spirit is also refining her and helping her be a better mom, and have more peace and direction in her life. It is so cool to see!

We've been teaching a lady named Hanny who we miraculously came in contact with last week right when she was really needing guidance. She was crying on her front porch, and had just received some terrible news just 5 minutes before. We had prayed to know where to go, and both felt that we needed to go to the apartment complex, where we met Hanny. It was amazing. She has been reading some from the Book of Mormon and is starting to understand that Heavenly Father really is aware of her and loves her personally. She is so prepared!

Julian is doing great! We read Mosiah 3 with him, and it was so cool to see the wheels turning after each verse. He really is soaking in everything we teach him, and the spirit is testifying to him that Jesus Christ really is the Savor and Redeemer of all mankind. Teaching him is one of my favorite things ever. He fasted again as well to receive extra guidance on making some work decisions. (though he expressed to us that he kind of cheated because he ate a bowl of ice cream an hour before he was supposed to break it..haha.) 

We're also still teaching Aurora. This little missy is seriously 15 going on 30. She is so mature and knows the answers to almost everything we teach. She will be moving soon, and it looks like she'll be holding off on her baptism until she gets home to North Carolina, but she has progressed a ton and has such a strong spirit! She will be an incredible sister missionary some day! 

There are lots of other really neat new people we're starting to teach! Heavenly Father really does guide us to those who are seeking the truth, we just have to be open to promptings, and be brave enough to open our mouths and act immediately! We cannot hesitate.

I love love love being a missionary. I may be coming home in a week, but I will never go back to who I was before my mission. I have a greater sense of who I am, and what my purpose is in this life. I have such a love and deep respect for my Savior Jesus Christ. He is so kind, tender, and sensitive to all of my needs. I have felt him walk with me, and give me the strength to keep going countless times over these past 18 months. I know His atonement is fully accessible to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We must use it and change a little everyday to become the sons and daughters our Heavenly Father knows we can become. More kind, more caring, more selfless, more patient, more humble, and more filled with love for all those around us. I know He knows my spirit better then I do, which is why it is so crucial we always have His spirit in our lives to guide us back to Him. My heart is full. I think I need a bowl of ice cream and a nap. 

Love you all. See you soon!

Sister Kraus

Pic. 1. baptisms at the temple!
Pic.2. Got to go on exchanges with one of my favorite Sisters ever! The one and only, Sister Sandoval!. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

This is His work and His glory!‏

This week was INSANE! 2 zone conferences, 3 exchanges, and a mini missionary. But we survived!!!
Here's what I learned:)
"The Church is organized to perfect and bless the lives of the members. It gives up opportunities to teach one another the gospel, fellowship and serve one another, and support one another in our quest for salvation." PMG 88
Callings in the church are divine and when we do our best to magnify our callings church truly becomes a sacred experience that spiritually fills our lamps with oil. This Sunday our relief society teacher did just that. There was much spiritual preparation and all of the women in attendance were touched because she followed the spirit in her teaching. 

We had a mini missionary out teaching with us on Saturday... HOLY SMOKES! We saw so many miracles. We got to teach 9 lessons and found 4 new people to teach in one day! One of the stakes in our mission does something called camp preach my gospel where all the youth do a study class and then at the end they come teach with us for a day. It was sweeeet. We have some REALLy strong youth in Vegas!

So, our investigator Sa'bryn wants to get baptized REALLY bad but her grandma won't let her. She has asked a lot in the past but still hasn't gotten the ok so we decided that everyday this month someone will fast for her grandmas heart to be softened and for Sa'b to have the strength to ask again. All the young women, her missionaries and her friends from school will be joining in. It has been incredible to see people rally around her for support! Please pray for her:)

This week I also got to go on exchanges in my old area of North Las Vegas. It was soo cool to be back! The coolest part though is that someone I taught for a long time named Brother Baudino has gained a testimony of this gospel and is getting baptized on August 15th! yep. the Saturday before I leave. I could've of cried. Well, actually, I did. I got to go through the baptism interview questions and could hardly believe my ears when he said he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that this church is true. I know it's because he listened to the spirit and allowed it to change his heart. He's incredible. 

Lastly, the COOLEST miracle of the week. We were going to teach our investigator Serena, she has been having some problems with her husband lately and they are in a battle for custody of the kids right now. When we got there she had just gotten off the phone with the court. The member we brought with us is a priest who had gotten the Melchizedek priesthood within the past month. He almost didn't come to the lesson with us that day because his family took a surprise trip to Utah that day but his words were "I prayed about if I should go to Utah and I felt very strongly that I needed to stay here this weekend." We tried to teach Serena the restoration but she could not focus on the lesson, finally we knelt down to say a prayer and we received a distinct impression that she needed a blessing. After the prayer we asked Robert if we would give her a blessing. he agreed.People, this is the first blessing he has every given! It was AMAZING! the spirit filled the home and she was able to calm down and listen to our message. She is now set to be baptized October 3. 

Seriously one of the most incredible weeks of my mission. I wish I had time to tell you all of the miracles that happened! Just know that I know the Lord is directly in our lives and that His work is moving forward! And what a privilege it is to be a part of it:) I love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week!!

And a thought from this week: You cannot talk about missionary work and not feel the spirit. It makes Heavenly Father SO excited! It is His work and His glory. It should be ours too!

Sister Kraus

pic. 1. cruisin with our mini missionary!

pic. 2. The one and only, Brother Baudino!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Alex's baptism!‏

Hello again,

I've only got about 10 minutes so this is going to be super short! 
We had 2 zone conferences and they went great :) We were super exhausted, and left at 4 in the morning for one of them, but the trainings went great and hopefully we will all be using the Book of Mormon more in teaching. It really is the key! Read it everyday!

I've had to give a departing testimony twice now, and man, it's such a weird concept, to stand in front of everyone and share what is deep down in your heart. You feel so vulnerable, but there is nothing more powerful then a simple, pure testimony about the truths we have gained from the witness of the spirit, and evidences all around us. The feeling is incredible. 

Lastly, Alexandra got baptized on Saturday!! Almost her entire family came! Even her dad and her brother all the way from New York! Her dad was able to baptize her and it was one of the most tender moments I have gotten to witness on my mission. I love Alex soo much! She is going to be such an asset to the Stonegate ward! The members already love her and have been strengthened by her testimony! She is incredible. 

Love you all! This church is the Savior's church on earth. I know it, and I love it. 

Sister Kraus

Monday, July 20, 2015

Never slowing down...‏

Hello! Life never slows down over here. I seriously feel like last Monday was just yesterday. Strangest thing of my life.

So we start zone conference tomorrow, and have them twice a week until the end of the transfer, so it's going to keep me busy and going so I won't think too much about....well...you know..

We'll be giving a training about how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in teaching :) I'm super pumped and hope that it will help the missionaries (especially the new ones) become much more powerful teachers. The book of Mormon really is everything. There is NO WAY that Book is not written by prophets through the spirit of prophecy and revelation. I know it's true. There is not a single doubt in my mind.
 We had a super rough lesson the other night when this inactive member invited us in (he was a referral) then proceeded to bash on everything the church stands for. It was pretty intense, but after he was done, all we could do was bear a simple and pure testimony of the truths we had gained through the spirit. He didn't change his mind, but I could feel the spirit when I was talking and bearing testimony vs. when he was throwing down on us. It was literally black and white. Light and dark. Happiness and misery. After we left I just felt sick to my stomach, but we prayed for the spirit to be with us, and for us to be able to have a powerful next lesson with our investigator Alexandra who is getting baptized this next Saturday. When we walked in her home, immediately I felt better and more at peace. The whole experience strengthened my testimony of how real the adversary is, but also how light always over rules the dark and brings peace and joy when you are seeking it. 

Our little investigator Gary (from Sister Blanchard and I's past area) got baptized on Saturday! He is soo cute and was so thrilled to be getting baptized. His whole family was there to support him. We sang/played I am a Child of God,at his request, and it was so neat to reflect on the words and the importance of the knowledge the song brings. I especially love the line "Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday." Such a cool song 

We also had the privilege of having the director of proselyting come to our mission to train all the leadership at MLC. He had lots of cool insights and helped us see how we could teach even more simply and powerfully. He gave us some great ideas on how to use the Book of Mormon in street contacts, especially since the Book of Mormon musical is here in Las Vegas.... prettty crazzy apparently, but hey, any publicity for the church is good publicity, as long as we know how to use it to our advantage! like" The play can entertain you for a night, but the Book can bless your life forever."

Lastly, we got to go to the temple on Friday with the new missionaries... again. What a blessing. I know it is God's house and that His spirit resides there always! The personal revelation and blessings we can receive from going to the temple regularly is what we need in our lives to be happy and become who Heavenly Father wants us to become. And becoming who He wants us to become is the ultimate quest of this life..the ultimate quest that leads to eternal bliss. Heavenly Father's plan for us is THE BEST!

Love you all!

Have a stellar week.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

25 out and 25 in!‏

Pic 1. Best trio ever! Had way too much fun..

Welp. It's been a super crazy week, but SO MUCH.FUN.

We got to go to the temple Tuesday morning with all the departing missionaries. It's a huge blessing to get to go twice a transfer! The spirit is always so strong, and the feeling of peace is unbeatable.  So weird to be there with missionaries going home in 2 days. I'm so grateful that's not me.... Yikes. The departing testimony meeting was great. We have to sit up front next to President and Sister Snow, which means I sit there and try to keep the tears inside my head, which always leads to me having a massive headache by the end of the meeting. My favorite. But it's so neat to be there and hear their powerful testimonies. The church is in good hands! 

Wednesday was an early start! As in 3 am..We took 25 missionaries to the airport, and picked up 25 greenies a couple hours later. Their wide eyed, fresh from the MTC faces were priceless. One got lost trying to find his terminal, and we spent 20 minutes searching the airport for him. Eventually he came strolling down the elevator, with a clueless look on his face. ha. It was the best! We packed them all in the mission vehicles, Bertha, Hank, and Jessie. Yes. they have names. Sister Snow welcomed them with a big hug and loving smile, and we started making them breakfast. After making hundreds of pancakes (you can call me Sister pancake flipper Kraus), they were finally satisfied. The missionaries all passed out within 10 minutes of breakfast, and we had the privilege of waking them up and telling them they had another 2 hours of trainings to sit through. They were a bit groggy, but excited to be there! We then went to the mission office for their companionship assignment meeting. Helping President Snow decide who should train who was one of the coolest experiences of my mission. When we discussed, then decided on the particular companionship we felt was best, the spirit filled the room and let us know that Heavenly Father agreed with our decision. It was incredible to see how intimately involved He is with every detail of His work. The companionships matched up perfectly :)

Thursday we had another meeting filled day as we trained the new missionaries from 9-3:30. I'm starting to get more comfortable with training in front of large groups, so it's not quite as stressful anymore. Good thing, because we've got zone conferences coming up, and 2 Mission Leadership Councils we're supposed to train at as well. Woohoo. The mission has definitely made me get out of my comfort zone, in more ways then one!

The coolest part of this week, other then feeling super loopy/slap happy from lack of sleep, and being with the best companion ever, has been seeing God's hand in our day to day work. We always see the little miracles, but especially when we only have a few hours to proselyte each day and He blesses us with lots of lessons and new investigator still. It just blows my mind. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He lives and watches over all of His children. He is aware of every detail of our lives and provides us with experiences and trials that mold us and refine us so we can become more like Him. The process is a painful one at times, but in the end it brings us incredible joy! As long as we have the right attitude and stay close to the spirit. I love my Savior and feel so privileged to get to do His work!

Last super cool thing. We've been teaching an athiest named Julian (though he's no longer an athiest...). We street contacted him, and gave him our card to call us because he wasn't comfortable giving us his contact info. He texted us 30 minutes later, and now we've had 5 lessons with him. He's prayed, FASTED, and is now starting to ask questions about the Plan of Salvation! It has been the coolest thing ever to see the spirit working in him, and to see him start to make steps that are bringing him closer to God. He feels a difference in his life already! Evidence once again that the gospel is true and that it brings happiness to anyone who will let it change them. 
Pic. 2. Sleepy new missionaries

Have a sweet week! Love you!

Sister Kraus 

Pic 3. Lunch with APs and president Snow and his wife!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fireworks and a fiddle‏

 Best 4th of July ever! We had an amazing week, but Saturday was  definitely the best. We went to a big park and some other missionaries had a booth set up advertising free family pictures. If the families wanted the pictures delivered to their homes, they wrote their names and addresses down. At the end of the day, the missionaries had around 60 families that wanted the missionaries to deliver the pictures and share a simple message about how the gospel can bless families. It was amazing! I was responsible for standing by the booth and fiddling to get people's attention, and we also had some singing and dancing going on. It was quite an experience :)
     After the evening was over, we walked back to our car at the church building and got to watch the fireworks for few minutes. Sister Hope and Blanchard proceeded to nudge me to get my fiddle out once again and play some hymns. There was a little family sitting on the church steps watching, as we found out they had just moved to the area and was looking for a church! ! What a blessing. Heavenly Father definitely puts us in the places we need to be to bring His children closer to Him. 
    We've been teaching a lot, seeing lots of miracles, working hard, and loving every minute :) doesn't get better then this!
Love you all, have a great week!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Exchanges and baptisms!‏

Hey there. Annndddd another week bites the dust. It's already week 6 of the transfer. yikes. Time. never. stops. and. it's. freaking. me. out. But besides that... things have been great!

Monday was great. We had our usual meeting with President, went to lunch with the Snow's and the AP's at Grimaldi's.. yum, then ran the usual errands and prepared for the week!

Tuesday. Exchanges in Lake Havasu with my MTC companion Sister Hirsch! It was HOT, but we had a blast and saw miracles! I've gotten to a point on my mission where I just want to teach anybody and everybody about the gospel! When a lesson falls through, we search for someone else in the area that is prepared to listen. I've really seen as we exercise faith in God's plan for the area everyday, we are able to be led to those that have been prepared to receive the gospel and we don't get as sad when our lessons fall through! Heavenly Father just wants us to trust that He is orchestrating the circumstances and will make miracles happen all around us as we work hard, trust in the promptings from the Spirit, and exercise faith! 

Wednesday. We taught a lot of awesome lessons! Our investigator Ed is one of the most faith filled and diligent people I've ever met. He has had a super hard life, and has gone through a lot, but since he met the sisters about a year ago, he has consistently tried to be better. Any time we invite him to pray, or read scriptures, or keep some other commitment, he always says "I will try my best." And he does. Every time! We also got to teach Brandi again and she is so prepared for her baptism Saturday! She shared her testimony with us before we left, so she wouldn't be so nervous on Saturday. It was one of my favorite experiences on my mission. The spirit was so strong and she shared with us how she had never really had much direction in her life and didn't even know if God existed for sure, or if she had a purpose in her life. As she started to read the scriptures, pray, and come to church with us, she felt her faith start to grow and felt the spirit touch her heart and she knew the church was true and that God knew and loved her. I love this girl like a sister! Ahh. She's amazing. 

Thursday. Exchanges in Anthem in my old ward Inspirada! It. was. my. favorite. 
We found a super awesome family in the morning that just moved in and wants to learn more!
 We had lunch with Tawny and her boys and I got to meet the newest member of her family! Little Sage Price. Ohh man. Cutest baby ever. Tawny is doing great! It was so fun to see her again. 
We taught some people that I taught when I was there which was also super fun! Ahh. So much joy. Also, I was with Sister Robinson who I have a super cool connection with. In January 2014 right before I left on my mission, my family and I were in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple. Waiting in one of the most beautiful rooms called the Celestial room, another family with a daughter around my same age walked in. We started talking with them and turns out that she was also going to the Las Vegas mission the exact same day. February 5th! Nooo wayy. It was pretty crazy... Her name is Sister Robinson. :) On exchanges, I got to hear Sister Robinson's side of the story.  After she had received her mission call, she was still pretty nervous about going and wasn't really sure if she still wanted to. The time came when they were going to go through the temple and her family was discussing where they should go. Either the Chicago which was about 3 hours away, or the Nauvoo temple, which was about 8 hours away. Her mom felt strongly that they should go to Nauvoo, even though it was an extra 5 hour drive. As Sister Robinson was in the temple, she started to feel at peace about going on a mission, and as she came into the Celestial room and fame to find out that there was someone going to the exact same mission as her at the same time, she was completely overcome. She then came to know with out a doubt that God knew her, and that He absolutely wanted her to serve a mission. :)

Friday was great! I don't remember much of what happened...

Saturday was even better!!! Ed and Brandi both got baptized!!!!
Oh man. Ed's baptism was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. He is such a kind, sincere man, who wants to do everything he can possibly do to please his Heavenly Father. He is my favorite. 
Brandi's baptism was also amazing and she also bore such a sweet, genuine testimony of how her faith had been strengthened and how the spirit had touched her heart and helped her decide to join the church. She is incredible and wants to serve a mission some day! I love this girl with my whole heart. 

And I'm about out of time, but this was one of the best weeks of my mission, and they just keep getting better :)

Love you all! 

Sister Kraus 

pics. Ed and Brandi's (with President Snow) baptisms!