(Mom’s notes in red)
(Mom’s notes in red)
This week has been FULL of new changes and adventures!
Last Tuesday was transfer day. It is crazy that I am going into my second transfer already! This transfer was full of changes. One of the biggest changes was that I got a new, reassigned companion who served in Chile for 9 months! Sister Tolley is the sweetest thing and has been a huge blessing to me! (I will be helping her adjust to this area and she will continue training me, because I have still so much to learn!) In the end we are learning together and I feel that, because of it, we are all the more unified as companions and friends. We also moved into a new apartment and have a new p-day, which has switched from Monday to Wednesday. Although all of these changes have taken a day or two to get used to, they have also brought new experiences and opportunities!
Sister Tolley and I spend a decent amount of time in quarantine because of Covid-19, but we are trying to find the blessings and God’s hand in each day. Our day to day events consist of:
Trying to get into the habit of running in the morning,
Buying ice cream and eating it from the container,
Going on hikes,
Studying, seeking, praying, teaching,
And all in all, just trying to keep ourselves busy!
We are seeking to work very hard everyday to be a blessing to others and use our time in a way that is pleasing in the sight of God.
I love the quote by President Russell M. Nelson (our prophet) “The Lord loves effort!” This quote has been a good reminder because being a missionary during this crazy time has resulted in moments of feeling drained and discouraged, but as I weigh these moments against all of the blessings we have received in return, it is well worth it!
I am so thankful for the challenges and trials that we experience daily because it brings into contrast the light and love of God, making it shine all the brighter! God never gives us more than we can handle.
God is good- Always good!
Sending hugs and much love,
A Poem written by Sister Molly McCleery:
“The trials I’m given, are they meant to crush me?
My perspective is so very limited to what I understand and see.
But yet I stand firm to the truth that God is my loving Father.
Why do I let fear and doubts seep in to add to personal bother?
Trials may seem heavy to bear, yet they’ll never be more than you can handle,
They are opportunities to grow your faith, adding like the guidance of a candle.
At times our burdens are just heavy enough to get us to our knees,
For this will open doors, because you now have the keys.
God anxiously waits for our acceptance to His hand that reaches out,
Once we do, then everything seems a bit better, resulting in a joyful shout!
If God wants us to have joy, why are there trials in the first place?
Now this can be addressed by breaking it down to the foundation base.
I believe this time on earth is an opportunity for growth and learning,
Where we experience opposition and practice the art of discerning.
I have turned more towards Christ in dark times, for I desire a source of light.
In Him I find comfort and strength, for He is my eyes of sight.
I’m grateful that through Him I don’t need to feel alone, even for a day.
Because I know Jesus Christ can help us feel more than perhaps just “okay.”
Every time we fall down and feel that we are done,
Remember the love that is testified through God’s only begotten son!
He can and will lift you and clean you up,
Christ’s love and healing is like an overflowing cup.
This is one of the most amazing and humbling experiences to endeavor,
For that is He loves you, today, tomorrow and always, even to forever!”
This week was a bit of a rougher week.
I found myself dealing with a lot of internal worries, but even with those struggles I saw good things come from the hard moments.
I made it!
I can’t believe I have been on my mission for a month…It has been truly extraordinary!
This week has been filled with great joy, learning, and laughter. This week I had my first baptism. It was a young man who was a miracle referral. It was a beautiful event that left me teary eyed.
There was great love and support for him which was such a blessing.
We also had our first service opportunity (other than volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse.)
We got to weed the bishop’s yard with his family. It was such a treat because with the pandemic, missionaries are in quarantine and have few opportunities to get out of the house. It is the greatest feeling to serve and bless the lives around you! After we were done weeding, the Bishop ordered pizza for us to pick up and take home.
This act of kindness overwhelmed me with gratitude. Honestly, the smallest acts of kindness can mean the world to another!
Sister Briones got a new companion this week, which was bittersweet.
Luckily, we still get to see her a lot since Sister Seal and I have a car and drive Sister Briones and her companion where they need to go. We honestly get to see each other quite a bit. Her new companion is Sister Ayers. Sister Ayers served in Japan for 8 months before the virus got really bad and she was reassigned to the States.
(Mosiah 2:17) “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
It has been so humbling to see this scripture come to life. As I have served those around me, I have been blessed with great love towards them. I am filled with the Holy Ghost, which gives me joy! It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to serve so many people even with, and despite, the virus. Moments of serving others and being served is a continual reminder that God is good, always good. He is aware of us and is always watching out for us! We are His children. He is our father.
And He loves us more than we can even comprehend!
Sending big hugs your way,
Hello friends and family!
I’ve always loved the declaration: “God is good, always good!” It is a truth I hold dear to my heart and one that I often recite. I find comfort in this reminder and bear testimony of the truthfulness of this statement. This week consisted of some amazing miracles and moments that added to my testimony of God’s goodness.
Here are some of the highlights from my week:
– We got a miracle referral for a little boy who desires to be baptized. He is the sweetest thing and I am humbled by all he teaches me during every lesson we have with him.
– We had another miracle call from a young man who has desired to be baptized for a while!
– Seeing the temple and the mountains off into the distance every day is amazing! I am in awe and feel so humbled to see God’s love illustrated through the beauty of the world around us.
– Every lesson we teach (which is often at least once a day) is humbling to me. I love teaching about Jesus Christ, and I love feeling God’s hand in the work!
– I am grateful for every day…every day that God teaches me something new. Every day that I am stretched in a new way. Every day I get to be a missionary. A mission is hard but the greatest feeling! I rejoice in the great goodness of God!!
Update on me and the mission:
Today is P-day, which is preparation day, and this is how I have spent it…
My two companions and I went Target shopping. I spent the entire time trying to convince myself not to buy what I don’t need, and I was actually successful, surprisingly… I love shopping!
We ate tasty food out as a treat,
We volunteered at the bishop’s store house,
Called and talked to family,
And did some self-care.
P-day is a good recovery day after a busy week, because it is focused on caring for yourself.
Everyone needs to have a personal lift-me-up day to go strong the rest of the week.
I also did my laundry today. I was so excited to have clean clothes (which my landlord even folded for me.) It is truly the simple joys in life that bring the greatest happiness!
God is Good, always good!
Love you lots!
I have been here almost a week and I can’t believe how much I have learned and gained in these past few days.
More than anything I am so humbled. Daily, I feel my faith grow and deepen. This has come from personal scripture study, spiritual teaching experiences, and experiencing a more sincere relationship with God grow as I turn to Him throughout the day.
If anyone was curious what my days are like as I serve in the Salt Lake City South mission during quarantine, here you go:
At 6:30 I wake up!
6:30-9:00 am is spent exercising, eating breakfast and planning out our day.
9:00-10:00 am is when I have my own personal scripture study. This is my favorite time of day. There is something so special about taking personal time to talk to and get to know Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Every morning we receive a list of spiritual reading tasks to focus on which provides wonderful opportunities for learning!
Throughout the day there are blocks of time that are set aside for specific tasks. 12:00 pm is lunch, 5:00-6:00 is dinner time, and 7:30- 9:00 is companion study. Companion study with my two awesome companions provides a fun opportunity to do role play practice, share what we learned, and review rules and goals.
My day ends with bed at 10:30 pm.
The open blocks of time between those regularly occurring activities are filled with teaching opportunities, reaching out to others via technology, and meeting with other missionaries. It is a full schedule but I enjoy it!
One thing that I have learned this week is the realization that I need to rely upon Jesus Christ every moment of my day. I think I used to be more passive about this heavenly hotline, but on a mission, it is a life line!
As I study His words, I see His words come to life. I feel His deep love and grace flow into every moment of my day.
I need Him every day.
He is my Savior and Redeemer.
He is my life jacket and friend.
He is my brother and healer.
He is the master potter that lovingly molds me to become my best self.
He is the living waters that keep me strong to endure spiritual trials.
Christ is my joy and my peace.
I bear testimony that He lives!
He loves us and is always reaching out to us saying, “Come follow me.”
I rejoice in the great blessing of having Christ in my life because I wouldn’t be who I am without Him.
Deepest of love,
After a two month delay we finally found ourselves 12 hours from Molly’s departure…
And it was with a muddy mix of emotions that we prepared our hearts for her leave. It was so good and yet so hard, and I found myself navigating one of those happy/sad days we have talked about in the past. How can one’s heart feel so full of gratitude and joy and yet so empty at the thought of impending loss?
It was an emotional minefield we were all navigating.
Part of me wanted to pause time so as to etch out a few more weeks…or years…of time with Molly before she took flight. Yet another part of me was eager to move past the dread and anticipation of the inevitable and just rip the Band-Aid off already. As I watched the minutes pass by on that final day before her departure, I couldn’t decide if I needed the hands of the clock to slow down or speed up.
So, I tried to not even look at the clock, and instead focused on each moment I had with my sweet ray of sunshine.
Our final day with Molly was filled with the mundane and uneventful moments of everyday life. We ran to the store to get groceries for her dinner request, did a final pick-up/clean-up of her bedroom, and watched the final two episodes of the series “Christy,” a favorite series from my childhood which has become our daily mother/daughter indulgence. It was all such normal stuff, but they gained significance and value in my heart knowing that those “normal” activities with Molly would be paused for the next year and a half.
President Hoke arrived at our home at 6:00 pm to conduct Molly’s final interview and officially set her apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Due to Covid-19 regulations, we had only immediate family attend, and her setting apart took place in our home rather than at the church. It was a beautiful and moving experience as she was blessed and received divine guidance and council for the 16 months ahead.
We then took advantage of everyone looking spiffy in their church clothes to capture some final pictures with Sister McCleery.
Molly’s last night at home was spent taking care of last minute tasks like laying out her clothes for an early morning flight and printing out her boarding tickets. Grace and Zach joined us for dinner. We had Molly’s favorite: spaghetti pizza, Caesar salad, and baguettes toasted with garlic oil.
After dinner we all gathered in the living room for family scripture study with Sister McCleery. Before we headed to bed Molly called me into her room to present a special gift she had made me. She acknowledged the loneliness I might feel in her absence so she put together a shadowbox bearing one of her sweaters and missionary name tags. “It is just something to make you feel like I’m still around when you are feeling sad,” she explained.
It was a gift of love beyond measure and will be treasured for the next 16 months and far beyond!
I don’t think anyone slept much that night. We were all struggling with our own mix of emotions about the upcoming farewell the next morning, while also feeling anxious that we might oversleep.
The house began to stir at 4:00 am. The dozen alarms we set out of fear of not waking up, didn’t let us down. Molly was the last to arise. I went in to check on her progress at 4:30 am only to discover her still fast asleep. I’m glad I went in to check on her! Evidently she decided not to set her alarm since everyone else had multiple alarms set. She figured someone would wake her up.
We were out the door by 5:00 am and on our way to the Pittsburgh airport.
Braden and Tyler opted not to go with us. When we woke them up they said they would rather say good-bye and go back to sleep. I think the thought of watching Molly walk through security was just too much to manage. It would feel too much like she was walking out of their lives forever.
Although it was just Rusty, Toby and I seeing her off from our home, Grace and Zach woke early and met us at the airport to say goodbye. It meant the world to Molly and was an incredible act of kindness on Zach and Gracie’s part. They surprised Molly with signs to celebrate the start of this new adventure.
As we entered the airport they were there waiting for us with the signs in hand.
We checked Molly’s luggage and made our way toward security.
There, outside the metal detectors, we said our good-byes…
Stealing a few final hugs and kisses from our sweet girl.
There were tears, words of love and encouragement, final reminders, and one last squeeze from each of us before she headed on her way.
It was with a mix of emotions that we drove home.
I had a knot in my stomach all day as I waited for word that she successfully navigated her connecting flights and arrived safely in Utah. At 4:30pm I received the call I had been waiting for. She made it safely to Utah, met with her mission president and his wife,
And was handed over to the two sister missionaries that will serve as her companions for the time being. Sister Seal hails from California and Sister Briones is from the Philippines.
It was a quick phone call but Molly sounded wonderful, and it gave me such peace of mind to know she made it safely and was settling in just fine.
We will be getting a virtual visit with Molly twice a week, in addition to emails and letters. I think that will definitely make things easier for the boys. It will help confirm the fact that although Molly is gone for a while, she isn’t gone from their lives forever.
She will also be emailing a weekly updates with pictures and news about her mission, which I will be sharing on the blog once a week, so all our friends around the world who have watched Molly grow up on this blog can continue following her adventures.
For now, I am happy to report that Miss Molly is safe and well and living her best life, and we couldn’t be happier for her!
Last fall Molly called us and confirmed news that we anticipated would be coming shortly…
Our sweet girl had prayerfully decided to answer God’s call and devote 18 months of her life to His service as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Her papers were submitted the week before Christmas and her call came February 5th.
On Tuesday morning she received the text that her mission call was ready to be accessed via the missionary portal, and there she would find the letter from the First Presidency of the church informing her of where she would be sent to serve and when she would leave.
Due to situations beyond our control, she opted to wait until Wednesday evening to open her mission call. This allowed everyone to be available and allowed us the time to prepare everyone for the emotions they might feel upon facing Molly’s departure for 18 months.
The 24 hour delay also allowed us to amp up the hype and allow others to join in on the anticipation of wondering where in the world Miss Molly would go. By making it a competition we were able to lessen the struggle for our sons that were already mourning the “loss” of another sister (this one to a mission rather than marriage) and make it a game of guessing where the Lord would be sending Molly.
We posted two maps on the wall…
A world map and a United States map,
And let everyone lock in their guesses.
“Where in the World would Molly be going?!”
The promise of a prize for the correct guess spurred on friendly competition, helping to make the evening celebratory rather than sad for the boys.
Others locked in their votes as well, as friends and family across the country posted their guesses on social media. We added each guess to our map, and the guesses kept rolling in until the big reveal at 7:00.
We arrived home from equine therapy minutes before we were to go live on Facebook. Grace and Zach were already there, ready to support Molly and celebrate her exciting news.
At 7:00 she opened the missionary portal and began reading…
We waited with bated breath as Molly revealed where she would be serving as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Salt Lake City, Utah in the Salt Lake City South mission!!
And she reports to the Missionary Training Center on April 1st.
Which means I have exactly 47 days with my sweet Molly before she spreads her wings once again and soars. She will be an amazing missionary! Her capacity for love and selfless service will serve those in the Salt Lake City South mission well.
Change is hard, especially for my sons who associate change with trauma and loss. We are working hard to emotionally prepare everyone for the adjustment of Molly’s absence, while also preparing Molly for the experience of a lifetime. These are the moments we prepare our children for. We invest everything in the hopes they will grow into good and Godly people who love others and faithfully follow God’s leading in their lives, even when that leading takes them down unknown paths. I pray my children will all grow into people that humbly and courageously say, “Send me, Lord. I will go and do what You command,” wherever that may be.
Miss Molly, you fill our hearts with joy. I know you will be an amazing missionary and that your life story and the struggles you have had to navigate will be a source of strength for many. The light you exude will draw others to Christ. Thank you for your example and your faithfulness.
We love you!