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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Recap of my Week

It's been a really great week. The hard things in my life don't seem as hard and I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.

I had a couple really great things happen.

1. I had my first FHE with a wonderful family from a different ward. :)
2. I taught the first discussion all by myself to a fellow employee and when I finished saying the first vision he looked at me and said "So Joseph Smith was a prophet, right?" AMAZING.
3. I had a missionary experience in the library in front of all the missionaries emailing home. That was super cool. I got like tackled by the sisters. I love them SO much.
4. I served at the garden on Saturday and had a really good conversation with good ol' Elder C. Because he's a missionary and missionaries are always busy an whenever we're around eachother he's usually working, I haven't had very many "deep" conversations with him. In fact I think I can count them with my fingers. Not that the conversation was super deep, but it was meaningful, I guess. I feel a lot closer to him and Elder Payne. Elder Payne and I got a chance to talk some too, which was nice. I adore those missionaries.
5. Cici's with all the mishs. :) I love when we all go out for lunch after service. I feel so comfortable with all of them, now. Like if I was in a crowd with a whole bunch of missionaries I wouldn't just go running for my Elders. I would look for the other wonderful missionaries in the Allen Stake.
6. Young Women's Broadcast. Wow. That was pretty spiritual. I was really discouraged because I was sitting all alone while everyone else was with their mom. Then the family from Monday's FHE spotted me and welcomed me over. I'm so grateful for that. The room was dark so no one saw the lonely tears of the 17 year old girl sitting by herself in the back. I'm so glad they found me, though.


The only bad thing about my week was all the contention. It used to be just at home, which was tolerable, but now it's at school, church, work, everywhere. I'm managing it, though. Hopefully it gets better. :)

Today after doing stuff for my mom I walked into my room where my phone was and got a text. It was from Ben. (For those of you that don't know him, he is my ex best friend and the boy who introduced me to the church) he was APOLOGIZING for everything he has done to me. After a whole year and a few months, I feel like things will be better at church and maybe I'll feel more accepted. I'm so happy.

I've been challenged to read a conference talk everyday. It was my "prescription" from bishop to help pull me out of the slump I'm in. He told me to start in October of 2013. Does anyone have suggestions on which ones to read first?

I love you guys. Thanks for all the support :)



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Service

*I wrote this the 15th and it never got published* Oops? :)

Recently I've been having a lot of rough patches in my life. And I knew that if I started serving others, I would become happier, too. So on Thursday at my LAST new member discussion (it was really sad.) I asked the Elders if I could serve with them anytime soon. So they invited me to serve with them and all of the other Allen missionaries at this little garden at a different faith's meetinghouse.

It was AMAZING.

I showed up and was immediately welcomed with a "What's up Caseyyy?!" from Elder James. My Elders weren't there yet because they're always late, so it was really nice to be known by other missionaries. I feel like I can walk up to any missionary and they know exactly who I am and I know exactly who they are. I love that.

Anyway, the garden was amazing. I talked to Hermana Moss the whole time, pretty much. Sister missionaries are so sweet.

All of the Sisters were planning on having a girls only lunch, and the Elders overheard and protested. Suddenly I look up and see a grinning Elder C with a green bow in his hair, claiming that he could go to the lunch now.  It was SO funny. They ended up giving in and all the Elders were invited. I drove a sister companionship to their home to get their wallets and back to the little cafe and they invited me to come eat with them, so I accepted the offer and I was SO glad I did. I love love love the missionaries. One of my hardships recently has been that I don't feel like I really "belong" anywhere at church. I feel super awkward. So it was really nice to sit there, surrounded by so many missionaries and feeling like I was a part of something. That was really cool.

But the best part of my day came from good ol' Elder C.

I was sitting there eating, and quietly  listening to the conversations around me when I hear my name, so I looked over and saw Elder C and Elder Murphy looking at me. They were talking about having the missionaries all in one place, and how I was the only non-missionary, or something? I think it was something like that. Then Elder Christensen responded with this:

"Casey isn't a Sister Missionary. Casey is a Member Missionary." 

That meant SO much to me. I don't know why. It's echoed in my head all day. :) It was one of the greatest compliments ever.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stake Conference

So for this Stake Conference I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to speak in front of the 750+ people who showed up to the Saturday night session. It was amazing.

This is my talk:

Hi. My name’s Casey Watts and I’m from the Allen 1st ward. I was baptized on December 15th, 2013 but my heart was converted to this wonderful gospel long before then.
My 3 year long journey to my baptism started on a simple day in my freshman gym class where I was invited to a nativity at my friend’s church. I was thrilled and immediately said yes. So that Friday night I dragged my family to a big beautiful white building on Exchange Parkway where my friend took me to all the nativities and told me the different stories of each set and about Jesus’s birth. I LOVED it. I had this indescribable feeling inside the whole time; that feeling was the Spirit. My family wanted to leave early because they wanted to go see the Christmas tree lighting at city hall. Reluctantly, I left, but not that long after I left my friend texted me and invited me to church with him. So on December 19th, 2010 I attended the Christmas program of the Allen first ward. I loved every second of it, so much that I asked to go to church with him again in February and I just kept going.
One day I decided to ask my friend where I could get my own scriptures, before then I had been borrowing one from the library every Sunday. He walked away and not too long after that 2 strange men with nametags came up to me and handed me a Book of Mormon. They were missionaries. They invited me to take the discussions with them and told me that I needed to get my parents’ permission to do so. I thought my parents would like the idea, so when they told me no I was shocked and discouraged. I continued to ask my parents for permission to take the discussions over and over and over again. In July of 2012 they finally agreed. So I started my discussions with Elder Lyman and Elder Whiting on Tuesday and finished them that Friday. Yes, it only took me a week to finish them. At the end of the last discussion, Elder Whiting asked if I would get baptized. I said yes, but I had to get my parents’ permission. I wasn’t surprised when my answer was no. I just kept pressing forward like I was a baptized member of the Church. I attended early morning seminary, earned my young woman’s medallion, bore my testimony on fast Sundays and so much more.
But I went through a huge trial in my life. I gave up on asking my parents if I could get baptized and decided to just wait until I turned 18. I stopped reading my scriptures and praying as often. My testimony was faltering. A couple missionaries offered to come teach me, but I made up stories about why they couldn't, just because I didn't want to be taught.
One day we got a new missionary named Elder Christensen. He heard my story and decided I was going to get baptized before he left. He kept trying different things to talk to me. But I just kept ignoring him and avoiding him at church. One day, though, he caught me before I could get away and he gave me a little piece of paper. It was a quote that said “Faith in God includes faith in His timing” with a little letter on the back about how much I inspired him. That little note put me back on the right path. Soon my testimony was as strong as ever.
I decided to ask my parents again and they told me they would think about it. On November 11th Elder Christensen and his companion Elder Saenger got a phone call from a screaming 17 year old girl who had finally gotten the permission to enter the waters of baptism.
Elder Christensen baptized me on December 15th and I received the Gift of the Holy Ghost the next week on the 22nd. My testimony has continued to grow and it is as strong as it has ever been. I’ve done baptisms for the dead, I’ve done mini missions and I finished my new member discussions with two of the best missionaries I have ever met – Elder Christensen and his new companion Elder Payne.

So here I am, 3 years later a totally changed person all because of one question. It’s as simple as that. I took President Durrant’s challenge to ask someone to meet with the missionaries every week for 6 weeks and it was amazing, brothers and sisters. So amazing that I kept with it. And my challenge for myself is to invite someone every week this year. This church is the best thing that has ever happened to me and because of the pure joy it brings me I want to share it with the people I love.

*testimony*

Okay, so I didn't completely look at the talk as I was speaking. I mean, it was my conversion story, I know it pretty well. :) 

But when I turned around to sit back down, President Durrant looked me straight in the eyes and said "Good job, Casey!!!!" and when the meeting was over he bee-lined to me and told me how proud he was of me. The MISSION PRESIDENT was proud of me. That really means a lot to someone who is trying so hard to be a missionary without the name tag. 

Elder Payne and Elder Murphy (Elder Christensen was on an exchange, so he missed it.) had come yesterday to support me. That meant more than they would ever know to me. Because they had to switch back, they had to leave early, and since I was the first speaker after a member from the stake presidency welcomed us and talked for a couple minutes about the topics of the night, they only came for me. 30 minutes they could have stayed in the apartment eating food, or tracting, or talking, or teaching and they spent it on me. In fact, they left right after I finished my talk, so they missed the rest of conference (which included Sister and President Durrant's talks). 

So today I was walking around being the little happy person I am and I saw some of my little missionary friends. Elder Murphy shook my hand and expressed how much he loved my talk and that he gave it 10 out of 10 stars. WOW. How cool is that?!?!

That was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I loved every second of it and I'm SO grateful for wonderful missionaries and fellow members around me. If I hadn't had the strong support system I do, there's NO WAY I would be able to get up and do that. 

I love this Church and everyone in it. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Missionaries: The BEST medicine

I'm so blessed. I feel spoiled by my Heavenly Father. Maybe a little TOO spoiled. :)

I have been blessed with the amazing opportunities to serve and hangout with all the missionaries of the Allen stake the past few days. On Saturday I served with them then went to lunch (it was also the 3 month mark of my baptism.) it was easily one of the best days of my life. I LOVE the missionaries. It was fun.

On Monday I played volleyball with them and got involved in a prank war with the missionaries. (Oops?)

But my week has not been just full of rainbows, butterflies and missionaries. It's been one of the hardest weeks I've had in a very very long time. On top of countless arguments with people I love, not feeling very good and working pretty much every day this week, I've had a little voice inside my head telling me horrible things about myself. That I'm not good enough and that no one likes me. I've been struggling with depression for years. And some weeks are just worse than others. This week has been a particularly hard week for me to overcome, but Heavenly Father wouldn't give me this trial if he didn't think I could do it.

Last night I was really struggling. I had nowhere to turn and I just had that complete feeling of defeat. I was done. So done with all the pain I had been feeling. I prayed my heart out as I went for a short drive after I took care of some things and I prayed my heart out, begging Him to help me be strong. When I got home I had a text from the sister missionaries that I've gotten really close to. They were inviting me to come serve. I accepted the invitation and I'm SO glad I did.

It was an eventful day. One of my Elders, Elder Payne, sliced his hand open with Elder C'e knife because A5 and A4 zip tied their bikes. (Yes, I got blamed for it. Thanks, Elder C) So we had to play doctor to her him all fixed up. Then it was Sister Hirschi and Allen's year mark and we went to lunch and celebrated, then I took a really cute picture of all of them. It was so fun and I'm feeling so much better than I was last night. I love each and every one of those missionaries. They all have special places in my heart.


Oh and I'm speaking at Stake Conference. I'm freaking out. EEP!

I'm so grateful for the strong, righteous people that have been called to the TDM and are serving in my stake. I really look up to them and I care about all of them. They're all so sweet. :)

Today the sisters told me missionaries are like seagulls because they pester you until they get what they want and they steal your food. Haha. :)

Have YOU shook your missionary's hand today? Hug a missionary (but don't break the rules), feed them, show them you care. They might need it.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Missions, Missionaries and Meetings.... Oh my! :)

I'm sorry I haven't posted much recently. I've had a few ups and downs and life has dragged me away from my computer.

There's a few things I just have to reflect on.

1. Mini Missions.
Last week I was absolutely blessed to get the chance to participate in a mini mission. I was put in a companionship of three and I was so bitter about it. I wanted it to be like a real missionary experience and I jumped to the conclusion that a companionship of three would not give me that. I was SO wrong. My companions were Bethany and Madison and our mission president was Sister Thunell. Oh my gosh. It was the best day of my entire life. I felt so close to my companions and I am so so so grateful I was paired with them. I left the mini mission a changed person. I didn't think it was possible to love total strangers so much. But you know what? Once I walked into their home to teach them, I felt this overwhelming love toward them. It is an amazing feeling. I wish I could do that every single day.


2. Missionaries.
Oh, missionaries. After the mini missions I feel slightly envious of them. They DO get to serve people every single day. It's cool to compare the love I felt for the people of my mini mission to the love they feel for me. I think of them as little superheroes, sometimes. Am I the only one who does that? I mean, I was SO EXHAUSTED from my mini mission and that was only a day. How can they do that every single day? And still shine so brightly??? Yeah, they have to be superheroes, or something.

All weekend I was doing a project at school that required me to stay after school on Friday until 8:15 then go back to school on Saturday from 6:30-4:30. The whole time during the project I was running up and down our massive school, going up and down stairs, through pretend spiderwebs and yelling at the top of my lungs at the other "fairy godmother" about who was better. (Not in an angry way, we were acting :) ) So by the time I got home I was exhausted. I passed out on the couch and didn't want up until 10pm. When I woke up I remembered that the Elders had transfers.  I thought about it for a moment. And I didn't feel the sense of panic that I normally feel when I think about transfers. I was perfectly okay. I wasn't sure why, but I knew that everything would be okay and there was no reason to worry. So I went to church today and both of my missionaries are staying for 6 more weeks. How wonderful. :)

Speaking of my missionaries, I feel like I need to write Elder Saenger tomorrow. 


3. Sacrament Meeting.
The weirdest thing happened today. I was sitting on my little bench by myself today, reflecting on the Savior and watching the priesthood pass the sacrament when I saw a couple of unfamiliar Elders. That's weird for me because I know all the Elders in the stake pretty well. I blinked a few times, and looked a little closer, their name tags disappeared and they became more deacon-like. They weren't missionaries at all, they were the deacons. Wow. How powerful that was. It made my eyes tear up. What GOOD boys. Good boys who will turn into even better missionaries. 

Another amazing thing I saw today was when a man was bearing his testimony, I looked up and saw my dad. But I blinked and he was gone and it was just one of the men in my ward. I don't know what that was, but it brought me great comfort.

I'm seeing things like this more frequently. Either the Spirit has found a fun way to talk to me or I'm going crazy. 

I do hope I can see things like this more often, though. I love it.