We are having a party all evening for anyone that would like to come
by and see Carly and celebrate with us!!!
Thanks again to all who have prayed and supported and loved
Carly while she has served!
What an incredible 18 months it has been!!!
I am so happy right now and full of lots of wierd emotions. It is really strange. Last night I began writing a list of things I have learned on my mission and it just kept going and going and going. I was going to share a few of them on this email but I couldn't choose! I just had my departing interview with President Holmes. He is a man of God and I am so grateful to have had the chance of serving with him for this time, precious time.
I know that this is the greatest work on the earth. My life has been completely changed because of it. I may not appear different to anyone (because really I look exactly the same) but I feel like a new person, totally different. I think the main thing that I want to continue is consistancy in living the Gospel. When we become inconsistant is when Satan is able to sneak in. It is hard to grasp the fact that I am leaving on Wednesday. We had our last few hours on Temple Square this morning and it didn't feel like it at all! I'm just so full of gratitude for the all that I have learned. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without this mission experience. What if I didn't follow that small sudden prompting that one Sunday morning! Anyone thinking about a mission whether male or female, young or old, should go! It is something that you will never regret and it will change countless lives. The Savior gave everything that we might live, it is a small price to pay to serve as a full time missionary.
Thank you for your love and support during these last 18 months. I have felt the prayers of many of my family and friends and will always be grateful to the strength I received because of them. I want to thank especially Mom and Dad. President asked me today, "What are you going home to?" With tears in my eyes I replied, "The most loving parents I could ever ask for". Thank you Mom and Dad, thank you thank you thank you. I know that it has also been a great sacrifice for you to allow me to serve. But I know that the blessings from the Lord will continue to come as you continue serving him in all the ways that you do! And there are many! Thank you Denver, Drew, Tara, Catie, and Haley and Zach as well. I have missed you each more than you will ever know. But I always prayed for you and thought of you often. Missing out on Tara's wedding was difficult for both Tara and I (and for our entire family). She is my best friend! But, I knew that doing the Lord's work required my full heart and complete dedication. And because of it, I feel that we were both blessed. Thank you also to Grandma's and Grandpa's!! You have written me, prayed for me, and served with me! I have missed you but am very grateful for your love and kind words of advice... so amazing. And to all of my friends, I saw many of you at Temple Square and have kept in touch through letters. I love you and am also very grateful for your words of support and advice!
This church is true!
Just two of my favorite scriptures :)
"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation." 2 Nephi 26:24
"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." Alma 29:9
I hate the word trunky... hate it hate it hate it. Why do people assume that your last few weeks you should be trunky? So lame! I am a missionary until the very moment I am released. The senior couples and other missionaries seem to be counting days for us and I just want to throw them out the.... nevermind. I love them, charity and love :) Really though, I think that the word trunky should be band from any missions vocabulary.
That beings said...
Good week! We had so many miracles, I couldn't be more happy. Sister Kao and I LOVE being missionaries. We have been blessed with meeting wonderful people who are truly interested in learning more. Yesterday we took two men from India on a tour. They didn't have any belief in Christ at all so we focused our teaching on Him and how following Christ will bless their families. We feel that we followed the spirit and we left our own agenda behind, that is when the miracles truly do happen!
Last Thursday Jess from Texas came on chat. He told us that he was 62 and that he was not happy with his current religion and was very interested in sitting down with some mormon members. We taught him for just a few minutes and gave him the number for the Bishop. He said he would really like to sit down with him so he can learn everything about what we believe. We sent him the information for church and then we called him Sunday night. Turns out he went to all three meetings and the members just embraced him! He said that the paired him with a young couple who actually lives across the street from him. He was amazed that someone so close to him were members and said they were an answer to his prayers. He was most impressed with all of the families at church. They were so united and he could see how much they loved each other. So he will be learning more from the missionaries and taken care of. Oh so good!
Irma and her husband are doing well. They went to church on Sunday and Irma was excited to tell us that she is halfway through 1st Nephi. She couldn't thank us enough for aiding her through the process (even though she was clearly led to mormon.org by God), she is just so happy! Her husband is doing well and they are getting baptized next week. Dia our investigator from last transfer is getting baptized this Sunday! We spoke with her yesterday and we could just hear that she was beaming with joy! She is loving all the things she is learning and once again was most impressed by the emphasis on the family, something that she hasn't really known before.
The sisters in the zone are doing great, some of them are still struggling with motivation though. It has become apparent to me that it is directly linked with the gift of agency. We are each free to choose whether to humbly follow counsel, or leave it behind and do it all on our own. When we come to a crossroad we must choose whether to follow God's will, or our own. Too many times we learn from sad experience that our will is usually not the Lords. As members of the church though, we know that our path must lead to Christ. This is actually what my talk was about last Sunday. I spoke about our CTR rings and how really they teach us to remember Him, Jesus Christ. To choose not just a good way, but the way that will lead to Jesus Christ. I then linked it to our missionary work all of the people we come in contact with, don't know what path to take. The path we choose depends upon our destination, but the people we meet don't have a destination!! Anyway, I enjoyed finding scriptures and quotes that remind us of the urgency to "make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth". We also had the privilege of driving to Park City to speak and sing in a ward there, the spirit was so strong! I love Temple Square sisters.
I love being a missionary, I still have a few more days to preach the Gospel! Nothing will stop me! Sister Kao and I really just never think or talk about next week because we both start crying... it is really difficult. So... one more email next Monday... and then bye bye.
LOVE- Sister Carly Jo Porter
p.s. I just cried when I read Jodi's email from Boston! Nikia is getting baptized! I was thinking about her all week and just praying for her. Sister Stevens had wrote me and said she has been MIA for so long. I am so happy! I knew it all along. Best news I have ever heard. So amazing!!! Love you Nikia!
I know that I always rave about President Holmes and his leadership, but I just can't help it! We had a few meetings with him this week including one this morning that has once again strengthened my testimony that the Lord truly calls his elect to this work. President has completely done a 180 with this mission and it is not ending any time soon. He spoke to the zone leaders this morning about how almost every mission in the world is modeling their missionary work after what Temple Square is doing. We are literally pioneering so many incredible things that soon will be adapted into other missions. Much of it is trial and error, but because we do it first we are saving many thousands of missionaries tons of time. The brethren have been so impressed with our mission, currently we are one of the highest baptizing missions in the world. Because of our teaching program we can now track many of the people who are baptized after we have taught them. I just feel so blessed and priviledged to be here, to see the hand of God working in marvelous ways. As a leader my job has been to train 24/7 all of the sisters in our zone, as well as the whole mission. I know that I am far from perfect but I am grateful for this great opportunity to rely on the Lord, upon the promptings of the Spirit, to know what to teach and how to train. I never want to leave this place!
Temple Square has been full of people! Some days we walk out on the square and we just say, wow it seems like summer! Especially as the weather has been warming up we have been seeing many many miracles. Sister Kao and I are often split and we go in "trios" with other companionship to observe and teach with them. It has been amazing to me how much better we can resolve problems when we get to the root of it. Sometimes we just skim the surface of an issue and just talk our way around a solution. It takes much more effort to spend time searching for the root and then nourishing it! I am learning life lessons here! It is tiring, but incredibly rewarding. I wish I would have known these things sooner!
Okay, sorry for being so boring today. These are just some of my thoughts! But of course we had an incredible miracles! Irma was an inbound call, meaning she went to mormon.org and found the phone number. Her call came to Sister Kao who taught her and invited her to meet with the missionaries. This happened one week ago. We began teaching her every other night and committing her to prayer and study of the Book of Mormon online. She explained that her husband has been deployed to Iraq and will be leaving in 3 weeks. She is anxious to have the missionaries come and teach them together, because she doesn't want to begin something new while he is gone. Well... missionaries visited them both last night. Her husband was so filled with the spirit that he committed to being baptized in 2 weeks!
Just 2 days before his deployment. They want the missionaries over every night. She told us today that this morning he got up early and initiated a prayer with her before he went to work. She was so touched because he has never been a religious person. Irma and her husband were prepared by the Lord, so when the message was taught, they clearly understood what they must do. So incredible! I am still in awe and have been telling all of the sisters about it.MORMON.ORG IS AMAZING!
We also took a tour with Abram from Yuma Arizona. He was this teddy bear latino guy... haha. He was so cute as we shared basic truths and asked him lots of questions. He believes in God and has always prayed, but has never been a part of a religion. At the Christus after sharing a scripture about the Savior (2 Nephi 26:24) he replied, "It just isn't fair, why did he do that for me? I don't deserve it." We helped him understand the Lords love and how he needed it in his life. He was so humble and sweet and he was excited to make it all a part of his life. He actually is engaged and he looked out the window and said, "man, if I only I could be allowed in there". We told him of course he can go, he just has to prepare! Then he got so excited and said really? I want to be married there!! Cuteness..
I love you all. Happy Valentines Day yesterday :)
p.s. I was in the north visitor center and the phone rang. I went to answer it.. "North visitors center, Sister Porter speaking" then I heard, "Well hello Sister Porter, this is Elder Ballard.." no joke.
Wow, I am so filled right now! We had zone conference these last few days and I feel as Joseph did after he saw the angel Moroni... exhausted!! It was so incredible to listen to our mission president bring the spirit so powerfully once again. It reminded me of my purpose once again and gave me the determination to finish strong! My companion and I taught a class one of the days that was all about setting a keeping goals. I learned so much! I just laughed when we were assigned that topic because it is something that I have struggled with my whole life and am still figuring out. We both are just so excited to apply this divine principle to our lives after our missions. The main thing that I learned was that we must have a vision of what we want to become. When we set a goal we have to have a way to have daily reminders of what we are working towards! We shared the analogy of trying to complete a puzzle without a picture of what you are creating! It is impossible! It also relates to the Savior. We have so many scriptures and stories of his perfect example, these are given to us so we may have a vision of what we could become. BUT if we don't have daily study and prayer then we no doubt will loose sight of that vision and step off of the path. So many awakening moments for me and for many other sisters. Blessing!
Well, more miracles this week. We took a group of 17 people from China on a tour on Sunday. They were actually all relatives so it was extra special. They were so interested an eager to learn, especially about the temple. The just swarmed around the temple display and could not believe it. Oh and my favorite part! One of the men asked Sister Kao to look at her Book of Mormon (in Chinese) and he just takes it and starts reading it. He followed along at the very back of the tour because he couldn't stop reading it. At one point he apologized and said, "I'm sorry, just one more page, I will ask them later about what you said..." hah she just laughed and told him no no you can have it! He was so happy!! He wasn't just skimming, he was reading. My heart was so touched.
Kate in Austria is meeting with the missionaries!! She also went to church this last Sunday and made some good friends! Oh we are sooooooo happy for her. She is excited and she knows that the book of Mormon is true. Also Dustin was another incredible referral who even amid finals has made time to truly read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I sent him a text message the other day and asked, "Dustin, how do you feel as you pray each day to your father in heaven??" He responded, "The most incredible thing ever, I constantly feel the Holy Ghost by my side.. I love it". The spirit!!! It is so real!! All of the sisters have truly incredible stories from people that they are finding and are getting them to church. When we get them to church then they for sure will meet the missionaries and be fellow shipped. Some sisters were teaching a man in Africa in an area that we were unsure had missionaries, they were calling him one last time to apologize and tell him they were sorry but couldn't continue teaching, because the church was not in his area. When they called he told them, "Hey!! I was walking down the street in the village over and I saw to of your elders! We are going to start another church in my area, and I get to help them lead it!" He was so excited. We have felt God answer our prayers in many of these countries where missionaries are very few. Prayer really works! It is so amazing!
I love the Gospel, I love missionary work, and I know that every single person must hear about the message...
.0007% of the world's population are serving as full time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. ELECT
Wow, so amazing. These weeks are going by so quickly. I don't know what to think! Well, this week was wonderful also. We are continueing to find very elect people through finding on Temple Square, and in our call center. I am amazed at the endless amount of people that are prepared to hear the message of the restoration. As one of our district leaders put it in our meeting last night, "I'm addicted".. we are addicted to helping others come closer to Christ and I will never stop!
Rebecca and Syam in India are still doing well. It is difficult to teach them because we are unsure if missionaries will be able to contact them. Tears ran down my face as the orphan children sang songs to us a few days ago and each of them introduced themselves. They called us Auntie and my heart was so happy! When Tara, Catie, and I were in India a few years ago the children always called us auntie and it brought back so many wonderful memories. I really pray that the Gospel will find them soon and that they will receive the resources for the orphanage that they desperately need. Kate in Austria is doing well. A few of our conversations have been trying to help her steer away from false information. Satan is really trying to confuse her with anti literature, but she completely agrees with everything that the Book of mormon says. She is meeting with the missionaries today hopefully for the first time! Great! Shanita in Georgia can't get to church because her husband won't allow it. We knelt in prayer with her today as she pleaded with the Lord to soften his heart, that he to can join her at church this Sunday. It was a very powerful lesson. Two of Sister Kaos referrals in Taiwan got baptized this week and one that is in St. George is getting baptized next week! She is so happy! It is so neat that our mission has baptisms now... We are all very happy.
A few nights ago Sister Kao and I had a very moving experience. Every Saturday night we are in the North Visitors Center making sure everything is running ok. We were at the map of Jerusalem when I turned around and saw a man probably in his 50s walking in with a walking stick, I realized he was completely blind. He came to the map and I asked how we could help him and he happily told us he came to see the Christus. We slowly led him up the ramp in the empty visitors center to see the beautiful statue. We sat him down and walked over to play the narration for him. We watched in tears as this humble man looked up at the Christus but couldn't see. I just was so humbled. This man didn't come to see, but to feel the presence of the Savior. I closed my eyes so I too could feel the love that Jesus Christ has for me. We went over to talk to him and found out he had only lost his vision about 14 years ago from a rare disease. His wife had divorced him so he was regularly dating and had just gotten back from a date! He was so positive, and it was as if his condition had no effect at all upon his life. We led him back downstairs and he made his way out to go and catch the bus. I don't know if he knows how many lives he has changed but he definately impacted mine. I am so grateful.
The sisters in our zone our great. They are seeing many miracles and weekly we are bringing more and more people to Christ. Our main concern is their productivity while finding people on Temple Square. They have a very hard time contacting people and creating a normal conversation. In their minds it is difficult to go from the phones and investigators to people that they are just meeting. I just told them to get over it!! These people came to see the Temple and you are going to show them!! It is so much easier then walking down the streets with people all around you in the middle of the city and trying to stop people who will listen... so get over it.. Of course I said it in a very kind and loving way :) Hopefully things go better this week.
OK, I have had the most incredible week. First of all, I am obsessed with my companion. She is so adorable and just has the cutest Chinese accent. It is really funny because sometimes her grammar in chats are just hilarious and we laugh together because sometimes people don't understand what she is trying to say, but the point gets across.. "The Book of Mormon is change you life!" Love it.
Update on Kate in Austria. We taught her this morning and she is doing really well. When we called her she was driving on her way to the sound of Music location for her day off... I was so jealous. She had a job interview this week that just popped up on her. She wouldn't have to work on Sunday's! We taught her about how God blesses us when we keep the commandments (Mosiah 2:20-22). She agreed. The missionaries are in contact with her and trying to find a time to meet with her. So good! She said the sweetest prayer while driving and prayed the God would guide her life down the path her wants her to be on. We had 5 IRCs this last week, a lot of people that we have been working with who have come in contact with the local missionaries. Best feeling ever!
Sunday night we were chatting and this girl Rebbecca gets online. She said, "Hello, I'm Rebbecca I'm 25, I'm in India. I am a minister for my 25 orphan children, God brought me to this Mormon website." NO JOKE! We taught her about the restoration and she referred immediately to have the missionaries visit. About 15 minutes later we get another chat and it says, "Hi I'm Syam, I am Rebecca's husband in India. We are so happy to meet with you and learn more about your church." We couldn't even believe it! They are so prepared. This morning we called them and had the best lesson. Syam was driving home when we called and was on his motorcycle, I could hear India in the background! Ah my heart wanted to be there so badly. He put us on speaker phone when he got home with Rebbecca and we shared with them some scriptures. They were laughing and were saying how happy they were! Rebbecca said, "I told all my children and the orphans about you and they are excited to meet you so you can play with them. We can't wait for you to come to India! When are you coming to see us??" Sister Kao and I were dieing on the phone. We are praying so hard that the missionaries can meet them soon. I guess that they run this orphanage for children whose parents have died because of HIV/AIDS. They love it but they don't have enough resources so they work really hard. They are only 25 years old and sounded so young on the phone. So... maybe President will send me to India in 5 weeks instead of Arizona? I'll have to request that.
Our zone is wonderful, all of the sisters are working hard. We have sisters in our zone from Sweden, Samoa, Uruguay, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Ukraine, New Zealand, and Peru. They are teaching people all over the world. Sister Kao and I get along great AND we are both musicians. We were asked to do a musical number last Sunday so I arranged a version of "Joseph Smiths First Prayer" and "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet". It was amazing how I felt the spirit help me know what to play. She has written songs for the church in Taiwan and is really popular in her country. After our missions we want to write together. Interesting how Heavenly Father works, matching us up like that. We are so grateful and amazed with the blessing he keeps giving us!
Well I'm not begin transferred to any crazy place like Boston this time, but I am getting a new companion! Sister Kao is from Taiwan and the best part..... she speaks mandarin!!!! I have been praying and praying and praying my whole mission for Heavenly Father to bless me with a Chinese speaking sister, after Koreans and Japanese I was about to lose hope. But I am so happy that I will get to be with her for my last transfer here at Temple Square. So exciting! It is also such a blessing because we are both in our last transfer. We will be able to really work hard and finish as strong as ever. Plus... we will have many many Chinese tours. I will have to learn to speak more zhong when (chinese)! We are zone leaders together over the North 3 zone. There are a few changes that we feel will help us to be more effective during our motor time, but most things will be the same. Tomorrow morning we have our first VIP tour with a few college professors from Hong Kong, Poland, Russia, and Cambodia. Fun fun fun!
Teaching went well this week! SO MANY MIRACLES!!! I can't even describe how happy and excited I am to be teaching such prepared people from all over the world. All I have to say is ELECT. We have a new investigator, her name is Kate, she is 27, single, and lives in Austria. She came on to Mormon.org and after asking her what interested her in learning about the church she replied, "Honestly I have no idea, I'm not sure why I'm here". We taught her a bit and called her on Sunday. She is GOLD. She used to live next door to the missionaries about four years ago, they had given her a Book of Mormon. She has since moved to a different city and is at least an hour drive from the church house. We just taught her a few minutes ago since today was her day off. She told us, "I called the Bishops number you gave me and he didn't answer, so I just decided to go to the church house! I went, it was locked, but I got a really good feeling inside that I was at the right place!". My companion and I just looked at each other with our jaws wide open. So please pray that the missionaries in Austria can contact her ASAP, we have her reading, studying, and praying about the Book of Mormon, and so far she loves it. Oh my my my she is my favorite. Her accent is really funny and I kept laughing because I was thinking of Denvers german accent he would always do, just like her! Oh and Dia finally went to church and is meeting with the missionaries! She went to the visitors center last week with her Mom in LA and they are both excited about the gospel. She loved church and was so excited to tell us all about it. Chad is also now meeting with the missionaries and going to church, he will be getting baptized in a few weeks. Another one of our new investigators was Wayne from Mississippi. We found him on chat when he came out of curiosity. We spoke with him last Saturday on the phone and he had many doubts. We called him again yesterday and his mind was completely changed. He explained how he felt about the restoration pamphlet and how it made him feel. As he gave the closing prayer he began crying and pleaded with the Lord to help him find the way for him and his wife. He prayed that he would make new friends and that his family would accept him. He has been having a lot of opposition with his children and grandchildren, they have told Wayne and his wife that they don't want to have anything to do with them if they meet with the missionaries. So sad! But we called Wayne again today and he met with the Elders last night!! They are going back to teach him on Friday and he has committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon....... MIRACLES!
I could go on and on about all of our miracles. I am just so happy with the new direction of our mission. The sisters are happier and the work is incredible. As a mission we had a total of 390 IRCs. Which means the we found and taught 390 people/families who are now currently meeting with missionaries in their local areas, all in 6 weeks. President Holmes wants us to double that for next transfer which I feel is totally possible.