Hermana Douglas

Hermana Douglas

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 23:Catching Up

Hey Everybody I am so sorry I haven't been posting letters! Here is a catch up on every thing that Hermana Douglas has been doing. Everybody read February 22: The girl that will Eat anything!!!
March 23
Dear Family and Friends,
How are you? I am so happy to get to write you today! My letter is a little bit late because we got to go to the temple so our P-day got changed to today. But that was awesome. I really received alot of answers to my prayers. But first I want to tell an exciting story. So last week was the Semana de Sacrificio and this was the hardest one yet. I am so tired right now because I have not gotten to rest until today. It was so hot, I thought that I was going to die. Not really, but it was really really hot. One of the elders in our zone even got really sick. It was crazy. We helped all of the other areas in our zone and so we went to Ojo de Agua in Alajuela in order to find new people. The thing is that Alajuela is a lot hotter than Heredia. So when we got to the sister missionaries' house, (which is on the side of a members house) we found one elder there suffering from an extreme fever. He stayed there while all of us worked and then when we came back for lunch he was way bad. They called a taxi to take him to the hospital because he couldn't walk, feel his legs, and was shaking like he has a seizure. When the elders carried him out, his legs were so stiff that they could only drag him really. But don't worry, he is fine! I am pretty sure that he had heat stroke or something, but we don't really know. He rested for a day and now is healthy and working just fine. So it was really just a freak accident.  But it is a testimony to how devouted missionaries are. We work through everything because we love the Lord. A truly devouted disciple of Christ does not look for excuses to not work, even when he has them. He says, "Great, this will make me stronger" and gets back to work!But that was probably the most exciting thing that happened to us this week. Other than we got to go the the temple! Yay!!! I love the temple. I can't wait until I can get to go every week like before my mission. There is always so much to learn and the Lord is always there! First, We got to talk to President and Sister Laboriel, and most importantly we got to have a moment just to think of ourselves and what we need from the Lord when we entered the temple. It was so peaceful, I loved it. And I truly have a testimony that whenever you ask for comfort from the Lord, he sends it. I prayed in the celestial room for some comfort in the trials that I am having right now, and he sent it immediately. Hermana Cruz was there as well because her zone went to the temple too and she just stood up and said, "Give me a hug right now." So yeah...the Lord answers prayers really fast in the temple.
So everyone go to the temple as much as you can in the future. There are so many blessings waiting for you there and whenever you need guidance, go! He is always there for you!
March 14
Dear Family and Friends,
How are you? I am pretty good here in Costa Rica. This week was really hot! Like really hot! Not too fun. But I am still learning a lot here in the mission. I want to tell you a little bit more about the culture here in Costa Rica. Basically everyone believes in God. There are pictures of Jesus in all of the buses and in basically everything. They are a people with a lot of faith. For example, in the bus when we pass a catholic church all of the catholics cross themselves. Also, buses are everywhere. There is a bus to go to almost everyplace. Which is a lot different than Utah. Also my mom has asked alot about the pictures where there are bars in front of everything. Yes, that is true. I have only seen about 3 houses in my entire time here that did not have a really big fence around it and those houses all had bars on the windows and doors. I am pretty sure it is for protection. I have not heard of many people here who have their houses broken into, unless they live in an area too poor to have a good lock. So yeah, I barely notice the big fences and the bars on the windows anymore. Also the sidewalks here are not good. At all. There are pieces of glass, holes, and a whole bunch of other unnameable things. It is one thing that sometimes I miss about the States. The order. Order is a good thing! So somebody go outside and kiss a sidewalk for me or something! Anyway, what else is there to say. Oh yeah, a little miracle for the week! We went knocking doors in Gethsemaní the other day and found a really awesome lady! For one, she lives in a place called Gethsemane!!!! So that is pretty cool. The other is her name. Her name is Maria, she is married to Jose,and she has a baby named Jesus. I am not even kidding you, we found the family of Jesus!!!! She is awesome and absolutley loves us! Which is great because sometimes we just need a little bit of love! She has her pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation propped up on her counter for everyone to see, and is an angel! She loves God and feels like she needs to be closer to Him. So great!! Anyway, I love you all and I am so happy to be here in Costa Rica. I grow to love this country more and more everyday. Especially because it is the most beautiful country in Central America and the safest. For that reason alone, sometimes I think that it was here in the mountains of Costa Rica that Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites. 
I also have a challenge for all of you. This week we focused alot about working with the members. And it is so true. Our stake is prime for work with the members. We are focusing on having every investigator be a friend of a member. Because I have learned something here in my mission. The work of the Lord is most defintely not just of the missionaries. The missionaries are more a helpmeet than anything. Those who truly share the gospel are the members. The only way that the church can grow is with the family, friends, and neighbors of the members. There is a reason why every single one of you lives where you are and is a member of the church! There are people that you know, who are just waiting to hear the gospel. So my challenge for you is this:
1. If you don't know the missionaries assigned to your ward...repent! Get to know them. Invite them to dinner, ask them to have a family home evening! Ask how you can help them! They have a million ideas on how to better the work in the area and are just waiting for you to take the iniciative and ask them!2. Think of a nonmember or a less active family and invite them to a family home evening! This idea is really very simple. Don't just think of a name and give it to the missionaries! Contact them yourself! Simply invite them! I promise you that you are not going to lose friends. I have invited hundreds of people to come to church here in Costa Rica and even when they say no, they are still my friends! We talk! We buy icecream together! They will not take offense at an invitation! In fact...they might take more offense if you never invite them to the things that are most important in your lives, like God!
3. Do your visiting and hometeaching! You have no idea how many less active member I have met who have left the church because no body visits them in their time of need! I know one woman who suffers from exteme depression. She was president of the Relief Society. She visited all of the women in her branch when she was president. But in her time of need...nobody has visited her. She has been to hospitals more times than anyone I know...but no one visits her or her family. So if you are the one not doing your duty, change! Be like Jesus and help those in need!
4. Don't make excuses! I know that some of you are going to say, "Well I live in Utah, so everyone I know is members and so is the entire state so I really can't do much more can I?" I am going to politely ask you to repent and change that thought because there are a lot of people in Utah who need to hear the Gospel! I have seen that in my own life! On my steet alone there are 3 non member families and even more less actives! So sit down and make a list of everyone that you know! Those who are members and those who you are not sure of! The woman in the grocery store, the guy who you pass running everyday, the tourists in Zion! There are many people to share the gospel with. It is our duty as members of the church to spread the gospel throughout the world and UTAH IS NOT EXEMPT!
Well I hope that this challenge will help all of you! I know that we can come closer to God through missionary work than possibly any thing else in this world! Remember that you are all in my prayers! I love you!
March 7
Dear Family and Friends,
Well, I am pretty much going to be the "oldest" missionary in the zone now! This meaning that I have had the most time in Zona Heredia than any other missionary. (Oh no! I am not the new kid anymore!!!!). Actually only one other missionary has more time here than me and another was here before and transfered back again. But still. I feel pretty good about this! Yesterday was actually transfers but I am here in San Rafael for another transfer! Yay! I will have atleast spent 5, almost 6 months here in Heredia. Which is great because I love these people. There is no way that I am not going to come back here. They are so much like my family. Other great news, we are officially in our new house and really excited! The people to move us didn't come until 8 pm last monday...so we went to bed a little late. Which is not good and I felt terrible. Then we had exchanges with the sister training leaders from Tuesday to Thursday. Which I need really badly. Just to have a little bit of a break from everything. Everything is good, but sometimes you just need to leave your area for a few days in order to recharge the batteries! I went to San Francisco! Thats right, we have a San Francisco here in Costa Rica! My area also has a Gethsemane so that is pretty cool. And we have Belen (Bethlehem) in our zone. It is where the temple is. But anyway, in San Francisco I was humbled a little bit. I entered an area called Guararí and I have never seen an area like this. Cars, even motorcycles, can't enter there because the "steets" are so small. It is in a gully like thing where it basically looks like a big pile of tin sheets. When you enter it was basically a maze. And it is dangerous. As in the elders that are also in the area had to escort us to the members we wanted to visit. One walked in front of us and the other behind to make sure nothing happened. I felt really humble as I saw how these people live. There are some pretty poor areas in San Rafael...but I have literally never seen anything like this in my life. They literally have nothing. Absolutely nothing. But some of the most devout members live there. I met a woman named Juaquina. She just wanted to share the gospel with all of her neighbors. I am truly humbled.
This week all of Central America had stake conference and listened to a transmission from Elder Andersen. This is the second time I have gotten to listen to Elder Andersen talk in my mission so pretty much love him. He is awesome. He talked in spanish and it was funny because I could actually catch the mistakes that he made (He spoke french and portugese before, and is just learning spanish right now). But it was so powerful. All of the general authorities that spoke emphasized member missionary work. Which always makes a missionary happy. We really need to start working with the members more. We are trying so hard, but are also learning and really excited to start appyling some of the things that we are learning.
I also want to share a little something about a scripture that I read this week. I actually first heard this scripture in the MTC and had forgotten about it for awhile. It says, 
D&C 6:33-37
33. Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. 
34. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
35. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. 
36. Look unto me in ever thought; doubt not, fear not.
37. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
...Doubt not; Fear not. I love that statement. I remember in the MTC when we were in a branch council meeting with President Doman and he read this scripture. His favorite part was the part that says, "Fear not, little flock." I love this scripture so much! Fear not to do good! Build upon the rock of Christ and nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat you! You can face storms, floods, trials, or the very jaws of the adversary and always win! It is a promise! Build upon His Rock! Doubt not HIS power, Fear not! Remember the sacrifice that He has made for us. He had nails driven into his hands and his wrists! He suffered our every sin! All so that we could conquer the foe! If we always remember to doubt not and fear not, we can feel His love so strongly!
Thank you for all of your love and your letters! Remember to love the Lord with all of your heart and never rest in His work!
*February 22
Dear Family and Friends,
Sorry that I forgot to send my letter last week! I actually wrote it all and thought that I had pressed send. So this week you get a double dose of Costa Rica! Pura Vida! Hmmm...where to begin for this week? Well I think I will start with the food. So if you didn't know before, here in Costa Rica the missionaries have cooks to serve lunch and wash their clothes for them (Lucky me!). Our cook (or in spanish cocinera) is Natalie Angee. And she is from Columbia. So at times I don't get the typical Costa Rican food. But she has told me that I am the only gringa that has passed through her house that will eat absolutely anything. She pretty much loves it because all of the other missionaries have been picky eaters. Hermana Cruz wouldn't eat onions. Hermana Gutierrez won't eat anything from the sea. And I am the gringa that will eat just about anything.I think it has been engraved in my mind from my family that if somebody puts food in front of you, you eat it and don't ask questions. So at times I have no idea what it is that I am eating. It was only this Sunday that I learned what I was actually eating. The elders also came to eat with us at Natalie's house and she served yuca (something kind of like a potato but we don't have in Utah), potatos, rice, and some meat. I normally don't ask what I am eating because also at times they like to tell me that it is one thing when in reality, it is another. This one time happened when they told me I was eating conejo (rabbit) when in truth it was chicharrón (fried pigs skin. I really like it!). So this Sunday we all sat down and Natalie told them what the meat was and asked if they wanted to eat it or have an egg instead. I just eat everything so she didn't ask me! They all said that they wanted an egg instead! Even the Latino who I thought this food was normal for them! Turns out that we were eating pigs feet. Before it was in a soup so I didn't recognize it. But on Sunday my hunk of meat was very distiguishable as a pigs foot. So I ate it, because in my family you don't say no to any type of food! Did I like it? No. Not at all! It was slimy and gross! But I had to be tough to out eat the elders and make Natalie proud as the Gringa Who Will Eat Anything! I have been told by one of our recent converts that this Saturday I get to try dunbungo (cow stomach) as well. So that will be fun! Also this week I weighed myself again. My first time I weighed my self was in my first week here! And in my three months here I have lost more than 20 pounds! So I was more than just a little happy! If anyone needs to lose weight, send them to be a missionary in San Rafael de Heredia. It is not super hot...but there are a whole bunch of hills here. My area is basically the side of a mountain. So no matter how much I eat here, I just keep losing weight. I am really happy about that! Anyway, today we had to go to the mission office and I finally got to know San Jose! I have been there before, but we never really explored. Today we went to a place that all of the missionaries call "Gringo Alley". It is basically the biggest souvenir shop in all of Costa Rica. The last week of your mission, which you spend in the office doing paperwork and having dinner with President Laboriel, you get to go to Gringo Alley and buy stuff to take home. The people there all know about the missionaries so they give us discounts. Which is pretty great I think. We just walked for the entrance and one lady raced out to direct us to her stall, where everything was cheaper because we are missionaries! There was so much stuff! I am already making a list for things that I want to bring home with me in more than a year! It is quite possible that I will leave all of my clothes here in Costa Rica and just bring back my books and a bunch of stuff from Costa Rica! Yay! So that was really cool! 
The work here in San Rafael is going really well! Not perfect, but really well! I have learned so much about trusting in my Heavenly Father and about prayer! That is one of the things that I have studied this week and I have learned that I need to be in constant contact with my Heavenly Father! He has so much love for me and just wants to guide me in everything that I do, I just need to ask! That is basically a rule in heaven! He can step in and help out with comfort and council, but you have to make the decision to trust in Him and just ask! I have found that when I am searching for help and truly praying to him, not just with words but with all of my heart as well (see Mosiah 24:12 I think.), that is when He answers me. I especially felt His love this Sunday during the sacrament. I took out my patriarcal blessing to read and pray a little, and it just really helped. My Father in Heaven knew that I needed to have some peace in my week because normally in during the sacrement there is a 4 year old that likes to literally run around and sometimes scream! So that drives the spirit away real quick. But this week was a miracle because this 4 year old waited until after the sacrement and well into a talk to start running and screaming. Thank goodness! The Lord truly knows how to calm all tempests!
Well I love you all and I would love to hear more from you! Always remember to trust in the Lord and ask Him for help! He is there for you! That was His only purpose in coming to the Earth! To help us! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MTC: Week 4

Dear Friends and Family,
This week has been so cool and so much fun! Last week on P-day my zone played volleyball for about 2 hours because we had extra time! It was so much fun! Also my new favorite thing to do at the MTC is the temple walk on Sunday! It is so relaxing and incredible to see all the missionaries walking around the temple. As one of the girls in my zone said, "We look like an army." And in a way we are. We are all gathered to go into the trenches and fight for the Lord. We defend Him, we recruit for Him, and we fight in His name. We really are as the Army of Helaman. If you think about that, it is really true. The stripling warriors were never defeated, but all of them were wounded. We as missionaries are all going to feel pain, disappointment, hurt, and broken on our missions. But we will win in the end. And if we are faithful we will come off stronger. 

​This is my zone! One district left this week and they were awesome! I learned so much from them! I am going to miss them a lot and I really hope that they keep in touch with all of us! And you can't see this, but in front of us there are about two hundred more missionaries milling around and even more behind us! So we really are an army! 
I have loved getting to know that new district as well. I really like one companionship in paricular. Hermana Frost and Hermana Staker are so cute and they are really fun to be around. They are going to California and New York! So that is really fun! It is so cool to see all the missionaries gathered from all over the world and going to all places in the world! I can't wait to actually get to Costa Rica! I know for a fact that my spanish is not yet ready, but I am so ready to just be there! I can't wait! 
This week I studied a lot about the Plan of Salvation and I urge everyone to also study it more. Try to really understand what the Plan truly is and how much God actually loves us. Because believe me, it is a lot. As I have been studying, it has felt like I am learning everything all over again and really feeling the joy of what it means to be followers of Christ and children of God. Even though I have read and understood what the Plan of Salvation was, it felt like learning it for the first time. And I can't wait to help others feel the excitement and joy that I have felt while learning about God's plan for us.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

MCT Week 3

Dear Family and Friends,

Life has been good here at the MTC! I have been learning so much. We have been able to go to the Provo temple every Wednesday morning and it is wonderful. I love going there with all the missionaries. We literally fill the entire room (mostly with elders) and the spirit is so strong! I love it. I also love it when we go on walks to the temple on Sunday afternoons. We get to take pictures and just spend time there in the peace. It is lovely! Also, when we go to the temple on Wednesdays we get food there and it is so delicious that I barely want to eat anything else all day! 
I am now teaching three people. Miranda is so sweet and she is really opening up to us. I love teaching her, even though she sometimes won't follow through with commitments and I can't understand what she is saying. But it is good to connect with people and see how teaching someone about salvation can truly make you love them. I am also still teaching Jaquelin and now Juan. These investigators are actually our teachers Hermana Boza and Hermono Nordfelt. They are actually the hardest to teach but really fun as well. 
We said goodbye to a district from our zone this week. They were so nice to us and really helpful, even though I only knew them for two weeks I really felt like we became friends. But they are going to do great in Argentina, Panama, and Canada! Also one of them (Elder Pearson) is going to the St. George mission, Spanish speaking! So if you see him, tell him hello from Hermana Douglas in the MTC. I told him to watch out for you guys and that maybe he would be put in the apartment that Grandpa owns. So that would be really cool!

​(My District on our Sunday Temple Walk)
We are getting so much closer as a district! I think all the elders are hilarious and so nice! It is funny how well we get along. Elder Millet is our district leader, and he is the nicest guy. He is able to kindly tell us to stop doing something we shouldn't or to focus. His companions are Elder Winsor (who is a little strange and says the weirdest things but really wants to learn how to share the gospel with others.), and Elder Downing. Elder Downing doesn't talk much. His first companion, Elder Coronado just left on Tuesday for the Guatemala MTC so he is now companions with Elder Millet and Elder Winsor. Elder Jeppson and Elder Boardman are super funny and look alike so it is funny that they are companions. They look like they should be cousins, not companions. Elder Amundson and Elder McCay actually both played waterpolo and Elder Amundson swam. So that is pretty cool. Elder Amundson is probably the nicest elder in the district and says funny things. Elder Amundson, Hermana Waterlyn and I sit in the corner so when we have to stand up and move he always whispers, "And out of the cocoon." So fun! Hermana Allen and Hermana Laursen are so sweet and hilarious! Hermana Laursen is always full of energy! For example, here is a picture of her waiting on top of the closet to scare my companion when she came in from the bathroom.

My companion is still so sweet! She is older than all of us so sometimes I think she gets annoyed with how childish we are, but that is ok! Hermana Waterlyn loves to study! She is so focused and wants to learn it all right now! It is great, but sometimes I get discouraged because I don't think that I know as much as her or can do as well in lessons. Which leads me into my spiritual talk for the day.
 Hermano Nordfelt had us read in 1 Samuel Chapter 17 about David and Goliath. In verse 28, Daniel's older brother trys to tell him that he is foolish for asking why people should be afraid of Goliath. His name is Eliab. Hermano Nordfelt explained to us that in our missions we would have Eliabs who discouraged us. It could be a trainer who tells us to forget everything we learned in the MTC because they do it differently there. It could be a companion telling us that we probably won't have success and get as many baptisms as we would like. It can be anything in the world that is trying to tell us that we can't do it. But David has the answer. In verse 29 he says, "What have I now done? Is there not a cause?"  On our missions and in life we have a purpose to be excited about! We shouldn't let the Eliab's of the world try to tell us to now be excited or to get us discouraged! We are here to bring the best news in the entire world to people, that their Lord and Savior lives, his church is on the earth again, and that we can return to live with God! It is something to be so excited about. And with this cause the Lord has prepared us! In 1 Samuel 17:32, 34-35 David explains to Saul that he can defeat Goliath because he had already killed a bear and a lion. The Lord had prepared David for Goliath! And we are prepared for our lives. We learned in the premortal world what we needed to know, we just need to remember it! And not only are we prepared, but we are set apart as having the Lord's power to do his work! Missionaries are a part of the Lord's army in this very real battle against Satan. And if anyone needs any comfort in what that means, look up 1 Samuel 17:45-47. 
Another thing that I wanted to share with you was from a talk from Elder Holland to the MTC that we watched as a film on Sunday night. It was called "Open Your Mouth". Elder Holland quoted from Ephesians 6:11-17. He explained that the armor of God is mostly defensive. There is the breastplate of righteousness, loins girt about with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, having the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. But there is only one offensive tool in the whole armour of God and that is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. In our fight against the advisary we must open our mouths and speak, because it is our most powerful weapon against Satan! When Joseph Smith prayed to God in the Sacred Grove, Satan could not kill him. He would have if he could! He would have done anything to stop the work of the Lord from happening! And so he did the next most powerful thing to stop the restoration. He bound Joseph's tongue. We need to open our mouths, even if we don't know what we are going to say, because the Lord will fill them and the work will go on. This gospel is the most powerful thing to have ever been on this planet. No nation, army, culture, or natural disaster can ever defeat the work of the Lord! I know that this is true. And so I encourage all of you to pray and find one missionary experience in your life this week. Open your mouth and speak about the truth of the Gospel. People are waiting to here it. That is my challenge to you.
Well now that I have ranted on and on about God's army and such, I will probably end my letter. I love it here at the MTC. We are all gathered for one purpose and are truly sheltered from the world. I love it! I have never gone through so much self reflection and so much frustration in my entire life, but I am truly growing out of this. It is great!
Hermana Rachel Douglas

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

MTC Week 2

Hola Mama!
So Wednesday is my P-day here in the MTC. Just so you aren't expecting emails on Monday or anything. When people say that the MTC is hard, they are not kidding!!! I know have a testimony about the gift of tongues or there is no way I would understand anything that my teacher, Hermano Nordfelt, tells us. He only speaks in Spanish to us. It is crazy. Wow. I don't even know where to begin. General Conference was great here in the MTC! It was amazing to gather as missionaries and listen to the prophet speak. It was really cool to sustain the new apostles in a large group like that! I think my favorite part about conference was actually when we all stood and sang How Firm a Foundation. I want everyone to go and look at those words and then imagine about 1000 missionaries standing and singing at the top of their lungs. It was so powerful! I love the music here. Maybe it is just because I am on a mission and I don't hear any other music, but every time we here music I get chills from the Spirit. It is awesome!
So I guess I will tell you a little about my district! They are awesome. We have 8 elders and 4 hermanas in our district! Out of the 12 missionaries, 7 of us are going to the Costa Rica San Jose West Mission! So we will be together for the rest of our missions basically! They are really cool.
Also my MTC mailing address is 

Sister Rachel Douglas
2009 N 900 E Unit 152
Provo, UT 84602

So I have already had the chance to teach three lessons in Spanish. We teach two more tonight! Crazy! The first lesson we taught went really well. The spirit was there as we testified about eternal families and that she(Jaquelin) could be with her family again. The next two lessons were hard though. We taught about the restoration (EEK!). We tried to mostly teach ourselves and didn't let the spirit do the work. Which we should have. Though the spirit was there as we testified of the truthfulness of prophets and the Book of Mormon, we could tell that it just confused them and they needed to hear something else at that point. We hope tonight goes better! We plan to teach about the Gospel of Christ (which we should have started with!). 
What to say about learning Spanish...It is so hard!!! I find it so hard when we are teaching because I want to jump in with my testimony or help out more, but I don't understand what they are saying. Hermana Waterlyn is pretty good and understands way more than me, so she is able to teach, but I feel just a little useless because I don't even know what they are saying or asking. It is frustrating. But I just try to smile and bring the spirit, even though I really have no idea about what is going on! But I am learning! Don't get me wrong! I can now pray, say my testimony, and I get by in the lessons. That is more than I ever could have a week ago! So the gift of tongues is so real!!!
We met with our branch president for the first time last night and he is awesome! President Doman has been a branch president at the MTC for the last 4 years and will actually probably get released around the same time we leave the MTC. So we could be his last batch of missionaries. I am positive I will cry when I leave. President and Sister Doman are sort of like parents to all of the missionaries in our Branch. They meet with us, Sister Doman hugs us, and they truly love us. We had a sort of testimony meeting last night with them and the spirit was so strong. I cried. Of course I cry anytime I bear my testimony or see someone cry or feel the spirit. (Great trait for a missionary, right?). 
I wanted to close this letter with an message for everyone. On Sunday night we watched an address that Elder Bednar gave to the MTC a few years ago. It was called Character of Christ. If you can find it, watch it! It will change your life! It was incredible! He spoke about how our purpose as missionaries, really as disciples of Christ, is not about us. It is about helping others around us. Jesus Christ was truly the most selfless person ever, and we are suppose to be like him! We need to be converted to him! And that does not just mean having a testimony! That is something that I have realized while I am here. A testimony will only get you so far. You truly have to love Jesus Christ with your whole heart and follow Him. Be converted unto him! Look out, not in! Don't be selfish, but seek to serve everyone around you. Conversion means consistently being true to what you know. Be converted to the Lord and always be true to Him! And the way to convert to the Lord is to turn away from the natural man. That scripture in Mosiah is indeed powerful, not just some scripture mastery that we are suppose to learn. Look in the scriptures often, not with yourself in mind, but with others and how you can help them! It will change your entire scripture study experience. I challenge everyone who reads this to evaluate their lives and ask God, "Am I on the right path? Do I want to follow the Lord's example and learn to love others before myself?" If you think you are, then just keep taking steps on the path. Becoming converted to the Lord doesn't happen over night. It is a long slow process over a lifetime. And that is why we must constantly be true to Him!
I love you all and I want you to know that deciding to serve a mission is truly the best, though hardest thing of my entire life. It has already changed me and made me truly be on the path to be converted to the Lord.

Hermana Rachel Douglas
Costa Rica San Jose West Mission

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Week 1: MTC

Hola Mama!
The MTC is crazy!! I think that me and Jeff are going to have totally different MTC experiences. For one, when you learn a language they give you all of these books and then just sit you down in this classroom with your teacher. He then only speaks Spanish at you. No english at all. And everyone is just looking frazzled and you don't know what is going on. It was so crazy. But I am learning. Quite a bit of the stuff I learned in high school is coming back to me. My companion is Hermana Waterlyn. She is actually 24, graduated from Utah State University with an english teaching degree and is from Pleasant Grove. I really like her. We get along really well. This letter is pretty short because they are just giving us 10 minutes to write. I really like the MTC. I already feel like I am learning so much and that I can feel the spirit all the time. We learned about teaching by the spirit and we already taught 3 "investigators" yesterday as big groups. I think the hardest part here is going to be learning how to teach in Spanish. All I can really say is that it is so crazy but that I love it already. I love you guys and I will be honest, It hasn't really hit me that I won't see you in a long time yet! I will probably miss you more next week but for now I am good. I love you guys!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Farewell Talk

Hello Brothers and Sisters. I am so thankful for the opportunity to speak today. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Rachel Douglas, and I am leaving on Wednesday to teach the people of Costa Rica about the gospel.
Twenty years ago this month the First Presidency released the Family: A Proclamation to the World. This proclamation not only defends the family, it defends the very plan of salvation that God created for us, his children. It outlines our purpose here on this earth, his heavenly plan for us, and the heavenly unit of families. Families are the very center on what this gospel is about. The Family: A Proclamation to the World was designed to counter and warn against the attacks on the family. President Gordon B Hinckley stated, “With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.” For this talk I have come up with 7 basic doctrines from the Family: A Proclamation to the World.
The first basic doctrine we can learn is that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Marriage is the beginning of a new family unit, and as such it is very important.  Gordon B Hinckley stated, “When you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Selfishness is the great destroyer of happy family life. If you will make your first concern the comfort, the well-being, and the happiness of your companion, sublimating any personal concern to that loftier goal, you will be happy, and your marriage will go on throughout eternity.” President Monson once said, “Our most cherished friend is our partner in marriage. This old world would be so much better off today if kindness and deference were daily a reflection of our gratitude for wife, for husband.” My great-grandmother recently passed away, but I will always think of her when I think of an eternal marriage. She had been living with my grandmother for part of the year and so I grew close to her. As she approached the end of her life she would tell me about my great-grandfather. Though he had passed away twenty years ago, before my parents wedding, I grew to know and love him through her stories. She would tell me about a dream she would have, where she was at her wedding dancing with him, and he would sing their song in her ear. Her love for him was a testament to me of a marriage that would go through the eternities. I knew that she loved him as much on the day she died as on the day she married him. I saw that God truly ordained marriage between man and woman because of how they complemented each other and were truly happy.
The second doctrine is that the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. God saw what joy we can have in families. Aren’t we all family? We call each other brothers and sisters in the gospel, and we call our God, Father. L Tom Perry said, “We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic unit of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.” The family is central to the Lord’s plan.
The third doctrine is that gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Once when my little sister Kirstin was in kindergarten, she had a school assignment to go home and write what she wanted to be when she grew up and why. She cried and cried when my parents told her that she could not be what she wanted. You see, Kirstin wanted to be a daddy. (Don’t worry, she now knows why this is impossible and is content to someday be a mommy instead.) Gender is an important part of who we are. We each have a purpose based on how God created us. In Genesis 1:26-27 it states, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God created us as His sons and daughters. He wants us to return to him and even goes as far as to say in Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” God’s entire plan for us is centered on the fact that he wants us to learn, grow, and become exalted so that we can return to him. As little children we sing “I am a Child of God, and He has sent me here, Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with thee someday.” God created a plan for us centered on learning within family units to return to him. He wants us to come back to him. That is our purpose.
The fourth basic doctrine is that the Plan of Happiness enables family relationships to continue after death. L Tom Perry once said, “What the restored gospel brings to the discussion of marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.” We as latter day saints don’t just focus on getting through life, we focus on making relationships and strong family bonds that will last, not only until the kids are out of the house or until ‘death do us part’, but for time and all eternity. Our perceptive on family is unique because we understand that families can be together forever. I have seen in my own life a testament of how this eternal perspective does strengthen families. In my family we have had trials, as most families do. I have learned from my family’s trials that we are eternal. We will never turn away from each other. That marriage and family is truly the strongest bond in the world. My parents have taught me that even though sometimes life is hard, and sometimes it’s really hard, it is worth it to value our family above all else. That is my testimony of eternal families. In primary we all sang, “Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s plan. I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can.” The Lord has truly created a Plan of Happiness that centers around the family because that is where we find joy. It is called the Plan of Happiness for a reason. He wants us to be happy! And I have never been happier then when I spend time with my family! Never!
The fifth basic doctrine is that God’s commandment for husbands and wives to have children remains in force today. Little children are truly a blessing from God and it is our responsibility to bring them into the world. My grandchild-hungry mother would be fast to agree with Boyd K Packer when he said, “The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth has never been rescinded! It is essential to the plan of redemption and is the source of human happiness.”  He is right! As my mother often reminds my sister and brother-in-law, children are a blessing and believe me, she wants them right now!
The sixth doctrine is that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and a woman who are legally married. The creation of mortal life is a sacred and important part of Heavenly Father’s plan. This is something that is being attacked a lot in our day. One of the most important titles we have given to our Lord and Savior is the Creator. And through Heavenly Father’s plan, we are allowed to share in his creating power. President Boyd K Packer said, “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan, it is the Plan of Happiness; It is the key to happiness.”  In 2 Nephi 2:25 it states, “Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have joy.” This profound statement reflects the reason that we are here. Adam fell that man might be. We know that after Eve ate the forbidden fruit she would be cast out and separated from Adam. In this, life on earth would have ended with Adam and Eve. And so Adam made a choice to fall, so that life could continue on this earth! So that man might be! And God blessed us that we might have joy in this. It is the reason we are here, and is the reason that procreation is so important. We find joy in bringing new life into this world. You can look upon the face of every new mother and father to see the evidence of the joy that creating a new mortal life can bring. These children are sacred and beautiful. It is why in a world that is growing to approve infidelity, sexual relations before marriage, and abortions, we must stand tall and be not moved in opposing this matter. God has stated that the creation of mortal life is sacred and I believe with all my heart that it is so.
The seventh and last doctrine is that happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Teaching your children of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice is your responsibility as parents. While you feed your children food to nourish their bodies so they can grow physically big and strong, you must also spiritually feed their spirits so that they can grow spiritually strong and steadfast. The Church has put into effect many practices and teachings to help you teach your children of Christ. There is family home evening, family prayer, family counsel, family scripture study, and going to church together. I remember as a little kid sitting down to read the Book of Mormon together and my father calling the Gadiaton Robbers dirt bags. I remember saying family prayer every night as we knelt in a circle. And I remember simply talking about our everyday problems in family counsel. Though at times we did neglect to do these, I will never forget that in fact we did do them! And I am thankful that we did, because I know that those early years are where the roots of my testimony are. Another statement from the Proclamation to the World is that “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” I have already discussed how principles of prayer in my home helped me as a child learning of turning to my Father in Heaven. And though all of these are great principles, I don’t have the time to focus on them all. So I would like to focus on three of them that I have learned the most from in my life. Work, wholesome recreational activities, and repentance. I grew up on a farm and so work was a principle that I learned early on. I cannot remember a day when I was not expected to help out in some way, whether by moving sprinkler pipe, helping my dad maintain a tractor, or picking up rocks in the field (And yes that was indeed a job I had to do). We often worked from sun up until late into the night. And these long days of working with my family served to strengthen our bonds more than anything else. We grew to know that we could count on each other, (though in a household with only one son and four daughters the most common phrase my Dad would say was “I wish my brothers were here”. I guess that is just a testament to the family bonds that were grown when they worked on the farm together. Working together was hard, and I remember yelling at my brother and sisters more on the farm than anywhere else, I also know that those are some of my fondest memories because we were together. Another principle that brought my family together was wholesome recreational activities. Now, as I said before, I grew up on a farm and so some of our activities will probably sound a little different to some of you. I remember one day in particular when we sat in the bucket of my dad’s track hoe and he turned in circles, going up and down, dipping into the canal. I can’t remember having so much fun in my entire life. I also remember something we did everyday together. At lunchtime, after working on the farm all morning, my uncles, my father, my grandparents, and us kids would sit on my grandmother’s floor and watch Matlock as we ate our lunches. This is a fond memory I have as a little kid of my family simply doing fun, wholesome activities together. These everyday activities brought my family together in that we found joy in simply being together. To this day our annual family campout is one of my favorite activities of the year, simply because we all get together and find joy in that. The last principle that I have learned about a lot in my family is forgiveness. My family has made a lot of mistakes. We have fought, and made many dumb decisions. But I have learned that forgiveness is the only answer to truly finding happiness in these circumstances. In seeing how my family forgives, I have learned and have an incredibly strong testimony of the atonement. I know the strength of the atonement because of how it heals my family. As we repent and forgive each other, I see how Christ suffered so that my family can be whole and full of love! He truly loves us enough to die for us. For my family! That is what my family has taught me!

Never before has the family come under as much attack as it does in our day. The Family: A Proclamation to the World was written to warn us of the dangers of the attack on the family. Near the end it states, “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” We must stand strong in defending the family. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Little About Me

Well, I have decided to start a missionary blog, to keep track of all my letters from my mission. I am serving a mission in the Costa Rica San Jose West Mission. I will be speaking Spanish and I leave for the MTC on September 30th, 2015. I am so excited to serve the Lord. This summer has been crazy and I have loved every minute of it. I have learned more about myself and about God. I got the chance to go through the temple a few weeks ago, and let me tell you, it has been an incredible experience. I love going through and I have yet to miss a week! I leave in 23 days for the MTC. This week I received the topic for my farewell talk, which I will probably post here as well. I am speaking on the Family: A Proclamation to the World. I have so many ideas on what to talk about, but none of them are coming together yet.
Preparing for a mission has certainly been daunting. I am struggling to get through the Book of Mormon before I leave and at times I feel like there is so much more I can learn to be a better missionary. But then I realize that I just need to trust in the Lord and everything will be ok.