Monday, March 20, 2017

20 March 2017 - I've been sleep-talking.


Spring has sprung up here in Idaho Falls and I am LOVING IT.  The skirt-and-wind combination, not so much... but the sunshine and lack of coat, beanie, and tights is marvelous.

I need to take some time to brag about a couple of our investigators:

FIRST, Ericka.
Ericka got baptized this past weekend and earlier that day we met up with her and her husband to the Idaho Falls Temple Visitor's center to have a lesson about stuff AFTER baptism - temples and families and such.  It was one of the BEST lessons.  We had the senior missionary couple who works at the VC come and talk to us about how being sealed in the temple has blessed their life.  It was so incredible.  After she left, some of the other sisters who work at the VC came up to us and asked about Ericka -- "Who was that girl? She was GLOWING."  They talked about how radiant she looked with the spirit.  How awesome is that?  It was a great baptism.

NOW, Jocelyn.
So, I've had a theory about SE Idaho for awhile.  Keep in mind that my theory is from the point of view of me, a missionary from the south who has served in 4-5 Idahoan towns ranging in size from "minuscule" (Newdale) to "less minuscule" (Idaho Falls).  My theory is this: For the most part, the people here either love the Mormons and the LDS church, or they dislike the Mormons and the LDS church.  LDS-Baptized AND non-LDS-baptized  people belong to both groups.  It's interesting.  After talking to Jocelyn the other day, I am more confident in my theory's validity.  Jocelyn went to school and told her friends that she has decided to get baptized next week, then all of her friends TOTALLY turned on her and started teasing her and making fun of her and trying to convince her to NOT get baptized (some of them members of the church).  HOW SAD IS THAT!  I was heartbroken that they would make fun of her.  She said that she's not welcome in a lot of her friend groups any more because of her decision but that she is still 100% on board with it.  I admire her faith and her courage in standing firm with what the spirit has told her to do.  I love teaching her.  Honestly, she IS Rory from Gilmore Girls.  The whole show describes her life.  Her mom is SO Lorelai, there is a Luke, the grandparents.... Ah.  It's all real.

(I forgot my camera today, so no pictures.... lo siento)

Last night I was drinking some Ovaltine and reading conference talks from last October, to show God that I am PUMPED to receive more revelatory goodness from Him next next weekend.  While so doing, I came across THIS TALK HERE and found it to be brilliant and wonderful.  How grateful I am for a Savior who teaches me all things.  

Last night my companion told me that I started loudly sleep-talking at 3am... She told me "rodeo clown" was the only intelligible phrase that she remembers.  No more nighttime ovaltine.

Sister McIntosh

Thursday, March 16, 2017

13 March 2017 - Kids sure say the darndest things...

Hello, friends!

Things are going swimmingly up here in Idaho Falls!  I would like to begin this week's email by listing the absurd/hilarious things that I have heard children say in the past week:

"The temple is God's home... the churches are more like his hotels probably."

Primary teacher:  "Who is our prophet today?"  
6 year old child: "Not Obama."

"At general conference we hear from Henry B. Frying"

"Jesus wants us to be together forever like pb&j."

( After seeing a picture of Elder M. Russell Ballard: ) "Is that Elsa?"

9 year old: "I wish I was 10..."  
Me: "Why is that?"  
9 year old: "Because mom said I can wear DEODORANT."
*he raised both fists in the air and waves them around as the last line was said.*

As you can see, there were some adventures this week.  One of my favorite adventures was being able to witness Eric get baptized!  Eric lives in our stake, but had been going to church and being taught by some other missionaries by where his girlfriend lived, so we didn't get to be involved with a lot of his teaching, but it's crazy because I knew him way beforehand from an exchange I went on MONTHS ago where I got to teach him one of his first lessons - about the plan of salvation.  It was soooo cool to see how far he has come since that time I first met him.  

ALSO.  A couple of big-wigs from the MTC came to our mission this week - Brother Shane Littlefield and Brother Wave.  They're in charge of the training that missionaries receive not only in the MTC but throughout their mission.  They held an 8-hour meeting with about 50 missionaries in the mission and it was AMAZING.  They just focused on some core, key, basic things from Preach My Gospel that all of us had seemed to have forgotten or not really implemented as well as we could have and it was seriously so refreshing and so fun to just role-play, practice teaching, set goals, and have discussion on doing my favorite thing - talking about Jesus. :)

This weekend Ericka is getting baptized!  I'm so pumped for her and we just found out that her husband who quit smoking a few months ago is cleared by the Bishop to baptize her!!!  They just got married several months ago when she found out that she wanted to learn about the lds church and get baptized.  They're so cute and I'll send a million pictures next week about it, hopefully.

Today I want to bear my testimony about the restoration of Jesus Christ's original church through the prophet Joesph Smith.  This element of what I believe is torn apart and attacked ALL the time and it makes me so sad.  No matter what people claim about Joseph Smith or ANY of the latter-day prophets, I know this is Christ's church.  It doesn't really matter if any of what people claim about Joseph Smith is true or not - maybe some of it is.  BUT, I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and I know that Christ's priesthood power was restored and that The Book of Mormon was translated by that power.  Because I know that, nothing else matters, even if it is true, because God's power is on the earth.  Christ's church is here. That is true, too!  Yes, imperfect and lame people may be members and even leaders of the church.  In fact, I'm sure that they are... I know a few, and I'm one of them myself.  But the ONLY thing that matters is believing in Christ's atonement and believing that Christ's restored church is here. It is STILL being restored.  That's why we don't understand a lot of why things are the way they are in this church - because this true and living church is being restored every day... and because maybe we're not meant to understand.  

That being said.... I love you all so much!  

Sister Mc

6 March 2017 - New Address!!! Also, Remember the Alamo~~

"The identity of child of God can NEVER, EVER be threatened or taken away from me. In fact, it is the only identity I’ve found that can’t.

It means there is something from my Heavenly Parents inside of me—some piece of divinity—and since I did nothing to deserve it, there is nothing I (or someone else) can do to take it away. I can’t become MORE “child of God” by my own merits, and I can’t become LESS “child of God” by my mistakes. I just am a child of God. The divine is just there.

I still stumble. At times I still feel insecure and defensive and scared. I still try to stubbornly cling to my lesser identities, but the more I try to identify myself as a child of God—as a child of love, forgiveness, long-suffering, and kindness—the more my self-worth feels solid and stable, built on something everlasting and unchanging. Something good and pure and true. Something that defines my very essence."

(Read the whole thing here - it's so good.)

So, the above quote has been circulating around in my brain, applying itself to all kinds of situations and questions that I and people I teach and love are finding ourselves in and I know that it has at least helped me a lot.  That was a long sentence.  Regardless, the quote has helped me realize the value of MY self worth, as well as others'.

That being said, the above quote made this week a WHOLE lot better than it could have been - aka my Savior helped me through this week and helped my companion and I see SO MANY MIRACLES.  5 people that we are teaching are scheduled to get baptized within the next month, which is nothing short of amazing.  I love the people we teach.  

I also got to go on exchanges with some sisters this week in the spanish area!! My favorite.  A recent convert we taught spoke to me all in spanish, except for one sentence - "Do you have medicine for your acne?"  That was interesting haha.  But I was able to understand everything she said in spanish and help her get set up on FamilySearch to do some genealogy!  It was so cool to see her light up about finding her abuelitos on there.

My favorite thing: one of our investigators is this cute 9 year old boy named Aiden.  He said the closing prayer at our last lesson and in it, he said: "I think it's kinda cool that the missionaries get to come and tell me things I didn't know before... I think even my parents are learning some stuff."  It was great.

WE ALSO MOVED TO A NEW APARTMENT.  And it's wonderful.  If you're in the mood to brighten a sister missionary's day with a letter or something, here's the address:

716 Saturn Ave #2
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

I love you all SO SO MUCH.  Keep praying, keep believing, and be believing WHEN you are praying.  Keep it real and be good.

Sister Mc

The pictures were taken after Debbie's funeral (see previous email I sent).  Soooo happy that previous comps and missionaries that taught her were able to come.  Love those sisters, Love Debbie.  

Also remember the Alamo - March 6, 1836

27 February - (no subject)


Tuesday: A temple recorder had a few missionaries over for a q&a session about pretty much anything we had questions about!  It was amazing.  I loved hearing his insights about the things we learn about in the temple and he was able to answer some questions I had about the Book of Abraham, the Plan of Salvation, and SO much else.  It was amazing.  We also got to speak to a group of YW that night who invited their friends to the activity!  HOLLA-LUJAH.

Wednesday:  ZONE CONFERENCE.  It was so great.  It always is.  Sister Houston and I were asked to do a demonstration for it, and I also got to do a training.  And they fed us pulled pork sandwiches.  THat night we had a meeting with all of our ward mission leaders WHILE our mission president had a meeting with our stake presidency.  #twobirds #onestone

Thursday:  We met a really neat part-member family that really wants to take the lessons and they're already wanting to be baptized!!!

Friday: We met ANOTHER part-member family.  They are fascinating.  We love them.... I would tell the whole story, but nobody wants an email 29387 paragraphs long.  It sufficeth me to say that it went well.

Saturday: We correlated with some of our ward mission leaders, went to lunch with our investigator HEATHER (amazing person, and I had amazing prime rib sliders with au jus sauce that I wanted to drink.)  We also got to meet a lot of people that we'd been hoping to meet!  Good day.

Sunday:  Sundays are the busiest days of my life.  Went to a few ward councils, spoke in a sacrament meeting, met with some Bishops, went to some presidency meetings, taught some investigators, went to a family's baby-gender reveal party for dinner (see friday's description--THAT family).  Then we saw a couple other people.  Then we came home and I fell asleep immediately.

Love you all!  
Sister McIntosh

The first one - unintentional blink
The second one - intentional blink - Unintentional blink because it was post-sneeze.
BTW it's snowing again.

20 February 2017 - The adversary is real. So is God.

I don't know all who remembers Debbie (she's in her early 60s in this pic), but this is her:

I taught her when I was in Rexburg.  She got baptized.  She cried when she finally overcame all she needed to and turned to Christ and repented.  She cheered when coming out of the water.  She smiled so brightly all the time.  I felt so much love for her from the beginning.

I received word this past week that she passed away. I was initially surprised, then sad...  But, the more I've thought about her, her spirit, her light, her excitement about the gospel... I've been thinking about how happy she must be to share the gospel with no inhibitions.  Am I still sad knowing that it'll be longer than I expected before I could give her a hug again? Yes.  Am I happy for her new life?  Yes.

Is Debbie's passing a work of the adversary?  No.  That's not why I titled the email that.  There are many reasons why I know that there is a very real power working against all that is good and happy.  I have experienced those reasons, as I think we all have.  I know I keep telling y'all about all these things I'm learning, but this one was especially profound.  Apparently the church did this cool "HOPE WORKS" initiative or something where basically they did spiritual Ted Talks.  I watched one today and it was a great reminder for me that we can overcome setbacks, unrighteousness, actions of others beyond our control.  Things like that flip our world upside down - sometimes in good ways, but a lot of times in negative ways.  We don't have to flip our world back on our own.  We don't even have to live in the flipped around world we're sometimes thrown in..... But we have a Savior to make us whole, no matter what situation we're in.

Here's the video:


I'm continuing my study of the Old Testament, by the way.  I've resolved to "Remember Lot's wife" as Christ has counseled us.... and I'm also trying to forget what happened with Lot's daughters... Oh my. 

I love you all.  I love hearing from you.

Sister McIntosh

13 February 2017 - Miscellaneous happenings for your reading pleasure...

Happy Monday!  Here are some significant things from this past week (disclaimer: a lot of them involve food), in no particular order: 

--The new transfer started, so I got to go meet the brand new sisters, help them find their comps, move their stuff around etc.  They're rockstars.
--I had the most amazing stuffed peppers for dinner sunday night.
--I had the most amazing lasagna and cherry chocolate cake that our ward mission leader spontaneously made for us... also sunday night.
--We got a new investigator who wanted to set a baptismal date on our first visit with her!!!  Melena is her name, conversion's her game.
--I'm getting increasingly excited about the IDAHO FALLS TEMPLE OPEN HOUSE.  Everyone come pls.  We know next-to-nothing about it...  But it will be amazing.
--We had our mission leadership council meeting this week, and SISTER NAITOKO (tongan, one of my favorite people ever, we came out of the MTC together) is now my Sister Training Leader companion again (she came down to Idaho Falls out of Rexburg for the FIRST TIME her whole mission) and they gave us mexican food at the meeting. #myroots
--I've decided that if it's above 32 degrees and the sun is shining, I'm not wearing a coat. #imisssunshine  #iamtoowhite 
--A man told me that my faith is insignificant and only "hollow but happy thoughts".  I tried to explain and help him.  Explicit words from him followed.
--Grass is visible, I REPEAT: snow has started to melt and we can see grass daily.  It's so happy.
--Finished the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon and I'm obsessed with it always.
--Started the Old Testament recently.  
--We have been regularly teaching this less active family (all fairly recent converts, as well) and it's usually not the easiest visit, but when we came this week, the 12 year old boy that sometimes gives me anxiety kept on asking questions about temples and eternal families and expressing how much he wants to have forever families.  It was amazing and one of those "payday" visits.

There's much, much more.  There always is than what gets included in these emails unfortunately... But I love you all and thank you for your support.  
It's all real.  It's all true.

Sister McIntosh

6 February 2017 - IT'SMELLLTINGGGG

The snow is melting.  And it's been in the 40s and kind of raining and it's amazing.  The roads are slushy and horrible, but it's muggy and rainy (which I miss) and not freezing and SO NICE.

This was a weird week because I was sick on Thursday and Friday, then Hermana H-Town was sick on Saturday and Sunday.  So that was rough for both of us and we weren't able to do as much as we wanted to or had planned to.

Quick email today, but here's a cool story: We're teaching Ericka yesterday (I mentioned her before, she loves church, her hubby is quitting smoking, she wants to get baptized etc) about the law of tithing and fast offerings... and this cute little family is on the struggle bus with finances.  Aka they are having a rough time.  Hna Htown and I prayed a lot for help on how to teach it so that they would understand and still feel okay about being baptized... So we teach it to them, ask them questions, read with them, talk with them, they ask a couple questions, and we explain that in order to get baptized in the church, one is to pay tithing once they do get baptized.  Ericka gets this look on her face... not a good look.  My stomach and heart (and probably eye) spazzed a bit, because I was afraid she had completely lost ALL THE FAITH THAT SHE OBVIOUSLY HAD.  But then she said "wait... so I'm not allowed to start paying it now, before my baptism?"  Wait.  What?  We asked her if she did want to start paying her tithing and fast offerings now and she was like "well, yeah.  it's a wonderful way to pay back God for all He's done.  And to help others."  SO THAT WAS SO HAPPY.

Transfers are this week.  Hermana Htown and I are staying in the same area, and possibly even losing 2 of our wards.  They've been on and off with that decision.  SO i'm not sure what will end up happening.  

I love you all.  I hope you're happy, and I'm sorry for the shorter email.

Sister Mc

30 January 2017 - Snow dayyyyy

That's right.  Snow day.  This is the second one we've had this winter.  The first snow day a couple months ago, I was on exchanges with another sister in her area.  THIS snow day..... I was on another exchange again.  Not in my area.  So, there was a lot of interesting things that happened because of that.  It was a spanish-speaking area I was in with Hermana Agustin, who is brand new to the mission.  We had an awesome lesson with one of their investigators about the importance of prophets, and I got to watch "On the Lord's Errand" (movie about Pres. Monson's life) in spanish, which was kind of cool.  The next day I was on exchanges again with Sister Crandall in her area, which was great.  Part of the reason for that second exchange was because there was a LIFE-CHANGING, WORLDWIDE MISSIONARY BROADCAST.  In this broadcast they changed the missionary schedule around to give us more sleep at night and more liberty with our morning routine/schedule.  It's glorious.  I feel so empowered.  They also made significant changes to what numbers we report each week.  They cut it down quite a bit, so there's more of a focus on the PEOPLE and their NEEDS which I'm all about.

We got a new investigator this week named Jocelyn.  She's 14 years old and really sweet.  Her family are all members, and very supportive, albeit extremely less-active (for now).

Speaking of less active members:  There's a less-active lady we're working with and when we went over there yesterday to teach her, she had her boyfriend over.  He's active.  It was a strange visit, my friends.  Her boyfriend (let's call him Tim) was staring at the both of us... saying things like "I KNOW you two will find a man when you come home" or "Make sure you marry when you're young because nobody wants you when you're old and wrinkly and that's a FACT."  and "have any of the elder missionaries showed interest in you?" yada yada yada.  It would have been funny if he was being facetious and teasing us or something.... but it was in complete seriousness.  We didn't stay too long that day.

Update on Heather: she's got two jobs and a couple of leads on some apartments she can move into!  It's so fun to see her get so excited about doing "regular people stuff" now that she's overcome so much, and is sober, and is happy, and the GOSPEL IS SHINING BRIGHT IN HER EYES.  It's awesome.

I think I'll send pictures later today!!  Love you all so so so so much!!  I love to hear from you.

Sister McIntosh

23 January 2017 - spiritual hiiiiiighs

Greetings from the arid and frozen tundra of the northlands~~

Tyson got baptized!!  I don't remember if I told you all about Tyson... but he's this cute 9 year old boy who we got to teach.  We have become SO CLOSE with the whole family and I love them.  He was so happy and cute at his baptism and his father was able to baptize him, which was so, so powerful for all of us to witness.  For the opening song, we sang a primary song (I think..? a new one, perhaps"  called "Gethsemane".  Nobody really knew it or sung out, but it's a great song to teach children about the Atonement.

We're also teaching Cody (less-active member trying to quit smoking) and his wife, Ericka (not a member, but LOVES the gospel and wants Cody to baptize her).  They had a HUGE breakthrough this week.  Ericka loves the gospel. I seriously wish that each of you could see her face when she sits in sacrament meeting listening to the speakers and the testimonies.  Her eyes GLOW with happiness and you can tell that she's just captivated by the love & hope that she feels.  Cody has been having a hard time quitting smoking, due to... well... multiple things.  I can't even imagine how hard it would be to give up something that's so addicting that I'd been doing for so long, so I can't sympathize super super well with him, but we did what we could to help him.  We had the ward mission leader come to give him a blessing, we got him set up with the Addiction Recovery Program classes and books to get him going, we pray with him.... but he's still super struggling with it.  We felt prompted to show him THIS VIDEO (which you should watch after reading this) at our last lesson with them.  After it finished, Cody ponders on his own for a bit.... then says "I feel differently about this than I ever have before.  Fasting will work.  I'm going to start my fast tonight at 8pm when I go to work and I'm going to overcome this.  I'm going to go to church tomorrow, and that will help, too."  It was AWESOME and I'm so happy especially that he was able to come up with that on his OWN without us being all "will you blah-blah-blah".  HE made a plan.  HE decided to take action.  He didn't have to be compelled.  THAT is faith, my friends.  THAT is the gospel in action.

Heather, I KNOW I've told y'all about.  She is the one recently out of prison who came to church 4 sundays ago on her own holding her dog.  Her questions are AMAZING and I've literally never taught anyone who was so enthused and thirsty for the gospel in his or her life.  She expressed a desire to get baptized!!!  The lessons we have with her are so powerful and spirit-filled and make my week/day/life better.

This past WEDNESDAY, the Idaho Falls Temple Visitors' Center called me and asked if I could fill in and host a musical fireside at the visitor's center on Sunday (yesterday) since the person that was supposed to do it had to cancel.  I almost said no.  But I said yes, and I'm glad I did, because it was a humbling and vulnerable experience that I needed.  I recruited some help from other missionaries, and together we taught the message of the Restoration of the Gospel through song.  Some things didn't go as well as practiced, but some things went MUCH better than practiced.  And the spirit was felt, so I feel good about it.  

This morning I read through my favorite talk from the mast recent general conference.  Read/watch/listen to it here asap.  It was exactly what I needed today.  I especially enjoyed the reminders I got about how insignificant philosophies of the natural man are.  Truth can be found everywhere, in many faiths, religions, ideas, books, people etc.  We should always seek truth and embrace eternal truths, regardless of where they're found.  We need to beware, however, of half-truths, lies, and prideful rationalizations that the world will gladly feed us every day, if we allow it to.  Check out what Paul said:

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”10
Need he or I say more?  Please please please strive to have your faith in the spirit you feel rather than the things you hear from the worldly world.
Love you all.  Be good.
Sister McIntosh

This is Hermana Grosdidier, the sister that I taught the spanish lesson with last week that I told you about.
Also I saw some deer when I was in the Ammon Foothills for exchanges.  I felt like I was driving through magnolia, tx but with snow everywhere.


16 January 2017 - -2 degrees right now

Hello, family and loved ones~~

I have a question for y'all that I'd love to have a response with your thoughts on. A bishop asked us to speak in sacrament meeting in a few weeks and the topic he gave us is "Missionary work and defending religious freedom." I am BEYOND PUMPED for this topic and have been hoping for awhile that I could have an opportunity to talk about it.  I have several thoughts formulating that I could talk about, but I welcome your thoughts as well!  Send a quick note back, if you could, about how YOU think we can defend religious freedom.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm not a fan of cold weather or snow.  Several emails ago, I pledged that I'd pray to find more beauty in snow.  I'm glad to report that I have.  After several unfortunate incidents this and last winter involving excessive walking/slipping/falling (my shoes are warm, but without traction), I have PTSD with ice on the ground.  BUT.  I love snow on the ground because it's safer to walk on.  #thereisbeautyallaround #whensnowsontheground

One of my favorite parts this week was an exchange that I got to go on IN A SPANISH-SPEAKING AREA.  The sister I was with, Hermana Grosdidier, has been out for a transfer and knew NO spanish before her mission.  SO neither of us are really fluent, but both of us can get along okay.  It was so so so so so fun speaking spanish all day.  Our last appointment was us teaching the Restoration to a cute family from Mexico (#myroots).  We brought this cute young couple with us that both served in the Dominican Republic and speak gringo spanish a lot better than we do.  And we taught the restoration!  I wasn't as good at introducing/explaining every point of the lesson, obviously, but I sure was able to testify and feel the spirit and it felt amazing.  AND I could understand everything that they said and all their questions, because the spirit was helping me out left and right.... and because all 4 of us probably have american accents.

Something I've felt the need to do lately is really delve into and study about each of the commandments we teach about as missionaries (10 commandments, praying, reading scriptures, fasting, word of wisdom, chastity, keeping the sabbath day holy etc etc etc) and keep track of all the blessings we are promised for EACH commandment specifically... and it's blown my mind on multiple occasions.  It's strengthened my testimony of God being a just and fair God with a merciful and grace-ful plan (graceful seems weird to put..) 

Thanks for all y'all do.
I'd love to hear back from each of you about my question at the beginning!
I'll send pictures soon!
Expect baptism pictures next week!!!!!

Sister McIntosh

9 January 2017 - Can't think of a cle

Hey, y'all!  This'll be a short one, but here are some things you should know:

1.  My address is:
2115 Robb St
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
Letters appreciated.

2.  We went outside, I took off my coat and said "it's so nice outside!!" only to get in the car and see that it was 35 degrees.... rather than -10. What has happened to me?! #acclimating 

3.  Heather is progressing beautifully!!  She came to church this week, we've talked about baptism and it's great.  My favorite thing ever about being a missionary is when I see lightbulbs go on in people's brain/eyes/spirit.  And those are going on like crazy all over Heather's countenance.  It's great teaching her and being taught by her.

4.  This Friday marks a YEAR since I became a missionary.  I've been out for a year y'all.  At times it's felt like just a month or so.  Other times it feels like 10 years.  Or sometimes, it just feels like a year.  Either way, it's so crazy to think about.

I love you all!  I hope to hear from you!!

Sister McIntosh

PS - pics to come

2 January 2017 - A whole new wooorrrld....

Y'all.  The south half of the mission here is so incredibly different than up north in Sugar and Rexburg.  In good ways and bad.  I'm still adjusting!  And I'm still getting lost constantly.

My companion is Sister Houston, affectionately referred to as "Hermana H-Town" by me every once in a while.  She's from Mesa, AZ and is wise in the ways of ballet, martial arts, violin-playing, and cooking.  She arrived in IF from the MTC last Wednesday, so she's still very green, which I love.  The pair of us took the place of some elders that covered this area for the past 4ish years.  Aka the IF West stake hasn't had sisters in a looonnng time... and the apartment we live in proves it.  We spent a good chunk of time on our first day de-eldering the apartment... and organizing what records were there... and trying to get ahold of who the elders had been working with.  It's been a whirlwind, but it's been good and everyone we've talked to seems ecstatic that there are new missionaries.  We're still a little bit in the deer-in-headlights phase of things, but we've already seen miracles:

There were some records of investigators that the elders had been working with, but it looked like none of them had been visited within the past 4 months... uh.. wut.  So that's been a huge priority of ours.  None of them have a baptismal date or anything.. so after asking our district leader who might be a good investigator to visit, they told us to see Cody and Ericka... which was all fine and good.... except there was NO RECORD OF THEM ANYWHERE.  Aka we had no idea what ward they were in, or where they lived or anything.  We found what we thought was their number in our phone, called them up and set up a time to come over that evening.  Cody is actually a member, just hasn't been to church in years.  His girlfriend, Ericka, is a nonmember and has been wanting baptism for a LONG time now, and finally committed Cody to marry her THIS WEEK so that she can.  We didn't even know any of this beforehand!!!  Cody has some bad habits he's working through right now, but is talking to his Bishop so that he can baptize Ericka at the end of February!!!  #holla #lujah  They're the best and so elect.

Another miracle:
So, Saturday night and all-day Sunday were designated by President as P-days since it was the holidays.  We went to church of course, but he said the rest of the day could be a pday....  Hna H-Town and I, however, felt strongly to just do what work we could that day.  We didn't have any appointments with investigators but every hour of the day was set up with appointments with all of our bishops and ward mission leaders to see what in the heck is going on in this stake and what in the heck ought to be going on in this stake.  It was very useful... but that's not even the main miracle.  We walked into a church to find our next appointment with the next Bishop, and while we were there, some random man comes up to us and says "Sisters, I'm glad you're here - there's a woman who has some questions for you."  So obvi we follow him.  And he takes us to a foyer, where sacrament meeting had just finished for a ward.  He took us to a group of people - an older couple, a young woman, and a woman in her 30s holding a small dog, crying.  Here are sub-miracles in the story:
The older couple that I met are the grandparents of one of my MTC companions and dear, dear friend, Sister Anderson!!  They introduced themselves and gave us big happy hugs.  Then, they introduced us to the woman with the small dog, Heather.
So, Heather got out of prison not super long ago, and has been hopping around living place to place.  she remembered a couple of LDS women in prison that always talked about Christ and it made Heather feel SO hopeful amidst all that was happening.  Earlier that sunday morning, she just googled "LDS Church" and found what time her sacrament meeting started.  She showed up with her dog, not knowing a soul.  Thankfully our ward mission leader, and my MTC comp's grandparents (The Mikles) took her under their wing, answered her questions, took her to the classes, and offered to host the missionary lessons in their home.  After meeting with the Bishop real quick, like we had originally planned, we went to the Temple Visitor's Center with Heather and all of her new friends where we watched a video about the Plan of Salvation and sat by the Christus statue and talked.  She kept saying "nobody's ever told me that before" over and over again to everything we talked to her about - that we lived with God before, that He knows us personally, that he loves us, that we have a purpose, that SHE has a purpose.  She was a sponge.   She was just in tears the whole time.  The spirit was so strong.  

I love you all!  Be good, be happy, and please, please, please, be believing.  

Sister McIntosh

26 December 2016 - Christmas calls & Transfer calls!!!

Friends, Romans, countrymen~~~

TRANSFER NEWS:  I'm leaving Rexburg.  I repeat: I am leaving Rexburg.  They're transferring me down to Idaho Falls to serve in the Idaho Falls West Stake.  I don't know much about the area - just that there's less than 10 wards (SO PUMPED about that) and a lot of work (ALSO so pumped about that).  I'm going to continue as STL and I'm going to be training again!!  I'd been kind of hoping for that, to be honest.  I just really like training new missionaries, I guess... keeps me humble and on my toes.  It's definitely going to be sad to be leaving Rexburg, just because I've been here for so long and it's so familiar... But I'm also excited to go to a bigger city with more people, where there's a lower percentage of members but STILL a strong church network, for lack of a better word (I'm sure there's a better word, but I'm too tired to think of it). 

Christmas was... wonderful.  It was so fun to meet Sister Ganbold's family and speak some broken Mongolian to them.  They nodded politely at whatever I said, which helped kindle the Christmas spirit.  We skyped our family and spent Christmas eve/day with one of our Bishops and his family, who also happen to be my favorite people.  We read the Christmas story, played games, bore testimony, took a nap, opened presents, ate food... It was great.  Regardless of anything that is happening back home, this Christmas has been one of the happiest that I've had in a long time, which is saying something.  There could maybe be a slight correlation between serving others, charity, focusing on Christ, and happiness.. just maybe.  ;)

On Christmas, my companion and I gave talks in sacrament meeting.  My topic was reverence.  I focused on how 90% of the time, the word is used to get primary kids to be quiet - "fold your arms!  Be reverent!"  That's the desired result, anyways.  I focused on how being quiet doesn't mean being reverent.  In high school, going to seminary at 6:00am didn't always result in a happy, bubbly, peppy, insightful Rachel McIntosh.  It usually resulted in a head-nodding-trying-to-keep-eyes-open Rachel McIntosh (Sorry Brother McEntyre, Brother Ball, Sister Keeler, Sister Ball, Sister Speers, Brother Brown, and Brother Black).  Was I quiet in seminary?  Yes.  I was also sleeping.  Do I regret that?  Yes.  My talk focused on how opening our mouth, speaking up, and having a voice is much more reverent.  THAT is how we can truly REVERE our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Singing praises, complimenting others, showing love, sharing the gospel, bearing testimony, teaching others.  Reverence can be, but should not always be, quiet.  Let's each be more AMBITIOUS and ENTHUSIASTIC in revering the Savior.

Mele kalikimaka.

Sister McIntosh

1.  Me and a kitten.
2.  Me and the fam we spent Christmas with.
3.  US AND ANTHONY who went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead.  He got baptized a couple months ago.
4.  CD that we found.

19 December 2016 - 24 BELOW. I REPEAT: NEGATIVE 24 DEGREES.

Hello, everyone.

So much is happening.  Up here in Idaho on my mission, and pretty much everywhere else with all of my family, as well, it seems.  I'll just go in order with what I remember.

On Tuesday we had our Christmas multi-zone conference.  The first few hours of it were trainings and instruction from zone leaders, sister training leaders, assistants, and President and his wife etc which was uplifting and edifying, as always.  A gentleman from SLC in charge of the missionary cars all over the world came to talk to us about the cars, the TIWI's in them (monitor our move, location, speed, and aggression at all times).  He inspected our cars and gave a prize to the companionship with the car in the best shape - aka how clean it was, if the fluids were all good, organization.... and not to honk our horn, but our car definitely won.  There was a talent show after lunch.  Our district sang a version of "12 Days of Christmas," changing the words ("12 Days in Rexburg") to make it about funny mission things in Rexburg.  I also accompanied my companion on guitar who sang and rapped in Mongolian.  And I accompanied on piano our zone leader singing a duet of "The First Noel".  My favorite number was all the elders who used their pocket name tag turned horizontally-flat and sideways as a kazoo.  They kazoo-ed "Angels We Have Heard on High" and it was surprisingly VERY VERY good considering their make-shift "instruments". 
At the end they handed out packages and presents for all of us <3 

Something sad:  Because BYUI is on a weird trimester track system, SO MANY of our investigators won't be coming back to school until April.  Some of them agreed to keep meeting with missionaries where they live.... but a lot of them can't/don't want to... SO SAD.  Over half of our investigators left for home.  It was sad to say goodbye to them.  Of course, there's a slim chance that I'll still be here when they get back but... not likely.  Transfers are December 28.  Stay tuned for the news.  

We went on exchanges this week.  I went back to my first area with Sister Camarena, who got here on her mission just a few weeks ago.  It was SO SO fun.  I joined her on thursday afternoon.  Friday morning, however, we woke up to a text from the assistants to the president saying that due to the ABSURD AMOUNT OF SNOW (not his exact words) we would not be allowed to go out or drive anywhere that day.  If we already had an appointment scheduled, we could ask someone for a ride, but that was it.  UMM.  That kind of made exchanging back complicated.  So it ended up being a two-day exchange of us staying in.  Except we did go out and walked along the street we lived on visiting less-active members and shoveling snow. It was fun.  Hard.  I don't have very many snow-shoveling muscles... yet.

Well.  It's almost Christmas. This has been such a different Christmas for me than any before, and not just because I'm a missionary, I think.  I've had to reflect on Christ's atonement for me more than ever before.  I've been studying the Bible more than I have before, and I know that everything that is unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ.  It says that all throughout preach my gospel and other missionary materiel, but I've hoped and reflected on that multiple times throughout my mission.

I love you all.
Make good choices. 
Remember who you are.
Remember Christ.

Sister Rachel McIntosh

12 December 2016 - Many are cold, but few are frozen.

I went sledding for the first time in my life last Monday.  Some lady in St. Anthony said we could use her backyard hill by the snake river.  It was good.  People kept giving me a hard time for not wearing "snow pants" which I don't even own.  So yes, my jeans had a thin layer of hard ice on them all down my legs at the end.  

I went on exchanges with the sisters who cover the Henry's Fork stake, aka the boonies of Rexburg.  We got lost a lot.  

Ethiopian food is very delicious, and very, very spicy.  I love Ethiopian people, and I love our Ethiopian investigator, Biya.  I learned how to say "thank you" in their dialect, but it was about 5 syllables and I have since forgotten it.

John and Linh got baptized this last Saturday.  Both BYUI students.  Linh is from Vietnam and is the sweetest human being.  
But I want to talk a little bit about John.  I was crying through basically his WHOLE baptism, which is not a thing I usually do.  But, John is someone that we found a few months ago, and he readily accepted the gospel and was happy about it, but he shows VERY little emotion about everything.  And he doesn't talk much.  I have a lot of emotion and can talk a LOT so it was kind of different for me to read him.  He rarely had questions.  He had very short answers and comments.  Very mellow.  Very quiet.  But, at his baptism, his non-member mom and sister (who are taking the lessons in Ohio where they live) came to surprise him.  After his uncle baptized him, John just stood in the water, hugging his uncle so tight, and sobbed.  It was very, very, very powerful.  I was glad that a couple of our other investigators could come and feel the spirit that was SO STRONG.

Love you all,

Me on exchanges with Sister Brinkerhoff after we had just STOPPED being lost.  Aka after driving for 1.5 hours in circles.

Us with Linh.

Us with John.  

5 December 2016 - Motab bow ties!?

Greetings, everyone~~

The pictures are from Thanksgiving with our investigator, Julianne, and from Mission Leadership Council.  Aka a meeting for the zone leaders and sister training leaders.  We sisters forcefully requested to be the ones standing in the back of the picture for once, rather than unflatteringly (not a word..) sit in the front row haha.

This'll be a short one, sorry!  (or, you're welcome..)

Now that it's December, it's supposedly socially acceptable to start listening to/singing Christmas hymns.  To me, however, it started feeling like the Christmas season months ago, simply because the temperatures dropped below 60 degrees long before December started.

I hope everyone absolutely loved the Christmas devotional!  I sure did.  I'm all about that Orchestra at Temple Square.  And I'm all about being able to hear from our faithful and spiritually powerful leaders.  

I don't have a whole lot of time, but a quick update on Biya!! 
He's doing wonderfully.  At the end of our first visit, we committed him to read 2 Nephi 2, because he had a lot of questions about Adam and Eve's fall.  At our next visit, we asked him how reading the chapter went, and without looking at any scriptures, he talked for the next 15 minutes about what he learned.  He was quoting the verses, he was going in order of the chapter!!!  I had read it that morning, and it surprised me how much detail had stayed with him.  

The spirit can do wonderful things.

I love you all,
Sister McIntosh