Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm a Mormon!

Hello Everyone!
It's been an interesting week. For some reason this transfer has been dragging by. I'm hoping it will pick up near the end... we'll see. The exciting news is that this week we had the opportunity to go to a training meeting for the "I'm a Mormon" campaign starting here on the 3rd of October. I am sooooooooooo excited. It will run for exactly the last 6 months of my mission, and I feel like this is a huge blessing to be able to be a part of this for the last part of my time as a missionary. The meeting was lead by Brother Tracy Watson, the director of all proselyting efforts for the church. It was so cool to get to work with him. He spent the first hour and a half just helping us to be better missionaries. He was full of lots of good ideas, and I was taking notes like crazy. Then after a short break we started the training for the media campaign. For the next 6 months there will be short commercials on all the main TV channels, billboard adds, Internet adds, and lots more. This will be a huge help to the work in this area. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that they don't have everything up and running in Spanish. So, our focus is going to be the teenagers, because they all speak English. We're still expecting a lot of traffic in the Spanish work, and we're trying to get into as many homes as we can before October 3rd to help families understand what will be happening. We've done a few trainings over the last few days and they have all gone well. It will be exciting to see how things go starting in October.

For other exciting events this week, we had the opportunity to run a Tuesday night activity for the youth this week. It went really well. The focus was on helping them answer questions about the church and their beliefs. We split them up into teams and they had to race and take little 3 question multiple choice/ fill in the blank tests, and with each one they couldn't go on to the next station until they had all the answers right. That left them doing lots of searching in the scriptures, and some clever kids started pulling out cell phones and going to the Internet! I got a good laugh about that, as we saw some of them googling some of the harder questions. The goal was to be the fastest group to finish, and there were good prizes for the winners (movie tickets, Coldstone ice cream gift cards, and other goodies). They really got into the activity, and it proved to be a good kick off for working with the youth to help get them ready for the media campaign. This same campaign was run in 10 other cities across the US last year, and the results showed that about 50% of adult members of the church were asked by someone about the adds, but 100% of the youth were asked. So we've got lots to do to help them be as ready as possible to answer questions from friends.

Besides that the week has been a lot of finding and working with the members. We've had some really good experiences as we've spent more time working with member families, and getting to know them better. We had one really cool experience where one person walked with us over to meet his neighbors. That was super cool! Also, this week was nice because we had Stake Conference. It made me think back to last Stake Conference and where I was... It's amazing what can happen in 6 months. I've been pretty frustrated lately with this area and the work here, but then as I thought back over the last 6 months I could really see lots of progress and while things still aren't where I would like them to be, it was good to know that at least we have moved forward. I really enjoyed the meetings, and it was really good for some of the people we are working with. We're hoping and praying for some big miracles this week. We'll see what happens.

Well, I think that's about all. We're keeping busy here, and that is good. It's been a bit of a rough run, but I'm really hoping that this week will be a turning point for us here in Agua Fria. We'll see. Oh, and I almost forgot, I celebrated my year mark this week. That was weird. It doesn't feel that long, but I guess I really have been a missionary for a year now. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to serve. Last night Mary was asking me about why I chose serving a mission over some of my other options, and I was so glad that I could honestly tell her that coming here was the best decision I could have ever made. I have loved serving, even in some of the really hard times. A mission is a really big roller coaster, lots of ups and downs and it moves so fast that if you blink you might miss it, because it moves at 100 miles an hour.

I love you all lots! Thanks for all of your support!
Hermana Okeson

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