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LIFE! (as in, This is the…)

Dear family & friends,

Hi! =) So one of the best parts of the week was a surprise visit from the MacDonalds from the Liberty 1st ward–they called to find out when Sister Jorgensen and I would be on shift together and came to see us and tell us the good news–their son got his mission call! =)  I get so excited about everything that involves missionaries.  I took 2 presentations at the VC this week of families of missionaries–one family had a son and a daughter who are both leaving within the next 2 months, sound kinda familiar?  And the other family was all returned missionaries–the parents and 2 daughters. So it’s been an extra-missionary-oriented week.  Love it.

The other best part of the week was the mission temple trip!  We got to go with President and Sister Keyes.  They taught us about families and testified about the importance and blessing of families.  I am so thankful for the temple and for the promise of being with you wonderful people forever. =)  At the VC, we have a video presentation called “God’s Plan for His Family” (It’s on Temple Square so you can go watch it if you want.) and it’s all about families, how we build happy ones, how we keep them forever, etc.  I get to watch it pretty much every day and the truths about eternal life as families hit me every time.  “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ.”  True doctrine.

Here’s the update on Terri, who was on date to be baptized in June.  She texted us on Sunday morning to tell us that she and her daughter have decided to convert to a different religion.  One of the elders who used to teach her said that this happens now and again and she’ll be back.  Hope springs eternal.  And the truth will always win.  I think that’s why hope springs eternal, actually.  We’ll miss her, but this is why we have an area book.

This week, I had an experience that helped me understand the Atonement better. I was talking to Sister Jorgensen about the adjustment from full-pros to VC life the other day.  It’s hard going from an area where you know everyone and you’re very comfortable to being the new kid on the block. She really understood me and where I was coming from and she could relate.  That night in my journal, I wrote, “Just knowing that someone who loves me so much understands me so well makes things better somehow.”  I stopped and read what I’d written and realized that that’s exactly how the Atonement works.  When we feel our Savior’s love and truly know He understands us, things feel better.  We feel healed because we feel understood and loved.  It has always been such a wonderful blessing in my life to have Christlike friends whose example and love draws me closer to the Lord.

This morning, we took our p-day adventure to Spain! Just kidding, obviously, but it looks like a little bit of Spain plopped down in the middle of Kansas City–beautiful fountains, pretty gardens, cute little shops and the like.  Good times all around.

I love being a missionary!  A handful of people who are very close to me are wrapping up their missions in the next 3 weeks and it’s making me really focus on how precious this time is.  I love being here.  I am so thankful for the gift of my mission.  Heavenly Father led me here and I thought I was sacrificing to serve Him, but I have received so much more than I could ever give.  It’s an eternal debt.  “Never can I repay Thee, Lord, but I can love Thee!”  And I do love Him.  Very much.  The gospel-centered covenant life is the life.  And I love it.  And you people.

Hurrah for Israel!

love,
Sister Rackham

probably I’ll plan my time better and send pictures next week, sorry!  They’re way cute pictures, promise!  Gardens and fountains and my sisters. Look forward to it.  =)  LOVE YOU!

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Zion :-)

Dearest family & friends,
 
Firstly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! to Grandma & Stephanie who share one of those things. =)  I hope it was a fabulous day.
 
Secondly, I was thinking about how cool it is when the line between family and friends gets kinda fuzzy and your friends babysit your little siblings while your folks go to California.  Thanks to MJ, Austin, and Elsie for that. =)
 
And now, the week in Zion!  I love it here.  And I love summertime.  I love being at the VC.  I love living in Blue Springs because it’s beautiful out there.  I love my companion.  I love all the fun, wonderful sisters and senior couples with whom I serve. I love the gospel! I love the opportunity to share the most precious truth I know with my brothers and sisters. Life is good.  (Kindia moment…)
 
On Wednesday, we had just about the rocking-est afternoon in our area EVER.  We contacted and taught SO MANY PEOPLE! =)  It’s weird going from full-pros to VC and having the area time reduced, but we work hard and the Lord blesses us to no end.  We met this lady from Wisconsin who totally opened up when I told her I was from Wisconsin–and once she said it, I could definitely hear it–that accent warms my heart, don’t cha know? 😉
 
Thursday was FABULOUS because guess why?  We went to Adam-Ondi-Ahman and Far West and the Liberty Jail.  The VC sisters go twice a year and I missed both trips last year so now I got to go and it was wonderful.  We got to go on the back roads at AOA where people don’t usually get to go.  For me, the highlight of the day was definitely the HLJ–“a scared spot where faith was tested and found sufficient.”  I hadn’t been there in so long!  The Spirit there is so powerful and it means a lot more to me now than it did then.  I learned a lot this past winter, I think the empathy thing comes into play here.  I am more grateful than ever for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his courageous companions for all they did to establish the truth.  It is true.  And Joseph really was called to do what he did–there was nothing but the glory of God in it for him.  And he kept his eye single to that glory.  If it weren’t true, he wouldn’t have gone thru everything he did for it.  The gospel is definitely true.
 
On Friday, we had interviews with President Keyes and it was wonderful.  Talk about walking on air.  Basically he said, “You done good, Sister Rackham, and I’m proud of you.” And he talked to me about sympathy & empathy and how I’ve been called here to serve these people because of my experiences and how I can empathize with them.  After our interviews, we got to visit with the Jennifer and Chris and I love them and I love picturing their baptism.  We met Jennifer tracting last week and gave her a Book of Mormon.  When we went back on Friday, she and her husband Chris asked all the questions they’d always wanted to ask some Mormons and we had a great discussion with them.  Most of it was centered on the plan of salvation.  It’s true and people know that when they hear it because they say things like, “See, that’s how I always believed it should be.”  So when we tell them that’s how it is, it hits them.  Look forward to more about Jennifer and Chris. Sister Hansen and I are really excited for them.
 
Terri tried to drop us on Saturday, but we stopped by anyway and she let us right in, said she didn’t mean anything she said in the text she sent, she was just confused, etc.  The Spirit reclaimed her. =)  We also brought Sapphire to the VC on Saturday–that was great!  It so wonderful having that place to teach people.  I’m completely spoiled rotten. 😉
 
Sunday was crazy.  “Cray” as Sister Hansen would say.  It’s a busy day for missionaries, but we accomplished good–never as much as we’re planning to or hoping to, but all the more reason to get up and go at it the next day, right? =)
 
And the next day was fun because we did exchanges!  I went with Sister Villanueva (from Peru) to the Riverview area where everyone speaks Spanish.  And Sister Taylor (from Texas) went with Sister Hansen around Blue Springs.  It was fun to be in a Spanish area for the day–I think I got a taste of Katie, Clayton, Ryan, and Brittany’s missions, and Dunn’s, too, just a different language–I understood about 85% of what was going on, could never find the words I wanted fast enough so all my contributions to the lesson where about 5 minutes late and I gave up on most of them because they were no longer relevant.  Definitely humbling, but way fun!
 
Which brings us to today! =)  We went to lunch with some of the other sisters–Sister Jorgensen goes home in 4 weeks and we have p-day together so basically I just want to do everything she and Sister Almodovar are doing because I’m going to flip when she and Sister Forbush leave.  Yup.  That’s still far away though.  But cool story–we went to get frozen yogurt this afternoon and Sister Almodovar and I were going to split one.  They have this things where if you get it exactly on the daily weight, it’s free.  We got it right on!  =)  It’s been a good day.  I also got a Jones Soda from the Gilbert&Whitney Store.  Yup, the Gilbert&Whitney Store.  It’s kinda like Williams Sonoma. And my life is super cool.
 
I tried to weave in my testimony throughout the email–in the mission we’re working on testifying throughout the teaching, not just at the end.  There’s just too much testimony to fit it all in one place.  For me, the gospel is pure joy!  Like Mom said, through covenants we get to hang on to all the joy and leave all the sorrow behind.  And like Clayton said, “it’s amazing!”  (I asked him what the coolest part of his mission was and he said that he has a testimony and it’s amazing. Love that kid.)  I know the gospel makes people happy.  Knowing that Christ loves me, that He paid the price for me, that He operates and directs His Church to administer and minister to my salvation and the salvation of the whole human family makes my heart brim with joy.  And I do know that.  I know it because He tells me and shows me through the Spirit every day.
 
I hope you all have a lovely week!  I love you dearly!
 
love,
Sister Rackham

 

1. All the sisters on the AOA trip. =)

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2. Sister Almodovar & me behind a tree near Preacher’s Rock at AOA.

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3. Sister Villanueva & me this morning!  She cut and curled my hair today.

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MIM =) (for lack of a better subject line

Dearest family and co.,
 
It was sooo good to talk with you and see your cute faces and get the updates! =)  Christian, way to extend a commitment invitation–you can follow up next summer when we go to Lagoon. 😉
 
It’s been a good week!  But really, on the mission, most weeks are. =)  Because the work is so good!  Last Wednesday was mission leadership council and I got to go!  Sister Forbush and Sister Jorgensen were there and I felt like the little kid who just got invited to the grown-up table for Thanksgiving dinner. 😉  The focus in our mission this transfer is testimony.  The way President Keyes taught it, it strikes me now more than ever that testimony is our most effective weapon–it brings the truth and the Spirit to people’s hearts more than anything else.  There’s a beautiful promise in D&C 100:7-8 that I’ve thought about a lot lately–when we share the things we share in Christ’s name, in solemnity of heart–the Spirit will be shed forth bearing record of ALL THINGS whatsoever we shall say.  The Lord is giving us a blank check.  “Here, you go out and tell people what you know and more assuredly believe and I will send my Spirit, the 3rd member of the Godhead, to back you up 100%.”  Whoa.  The more I learn how much the Lord trusts His missionaries, the more I feel like  3 year-old who just got handed the car keys and the more I want to learn to handle the car/use this power well.  Last thought on testimony, D&C 58:59–a commandment for us in Zion, we must bear record, to testify is a commandment.  And obedience brings blessings.  So as we testify, we are blessed.  One of the blessings is the Spirit’s witness to our own hearts that the testimony we just shared is in fact true.
 
I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father is there.  He listens to my prayers and He answers them.  Jesus Christ is a real person and He is who He says He is–the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World.  I love Him very much and I know this work is His.  I’m thrilled to be part of it.  I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His Church, as evidenced by the name, and obviously the witness of the Spirit. The Book of Mormon is pure scripture and it’s my favorite book.  I’ve gotten for answers and more peace from it than any other book.  Truly it has brought me closer to God.  It helps me understand the big picture so I can understand and appreciate God more.  This is the real deal.  It’s true, it’s worth it, and it matters.
 
So, the week!  With so much time at the VC, I feel like we’re hardly in our area, but the time we do get there is packed full of miracles and wonderful people.  Like Terry.  The elders were teaching her a few months back and she didn’t ever come to church because she doesn’t have church clothes.  We met her my first week here and got her address, we stopped by last week but she didn’t answer the door.  Last night, we went over and she let us in, we talked about the gospel, the Church, the blessings, and she said she already knows it’s true.  She said she’d been praying the other day and really not having a good day at all, and then we knocked on her door.  She was too emotionally overcome to talk to us then so she didn’t answer.  But we were where we needed to be even though to us, it seemed like an unsuccessful attempt.  Last night, she accepted a baptismal date for early next month.  I know that the Lord prepares His children to receive His truth.
 
Random funny moment of the week: So Sister Hansen is one of those calm, cool, and collected people and I thought she was invincible.  Come to find out she’d been a little stressed this week (I figured she would be–been out for 3 months, taking over the area since I don’t know where things are yet, etc.) so she laughed at me for thinking she was all put together.  Flash forward to yesterday when it’s raining and we’re driving to dinner at a member’s home and neither of us knows where we’re going to I have pull a U-turn and you know how I make sound effects when I drive?  I made some funny noise so S. Hansen laughed at me and I told her it was my stressed driving noise so she laughed even more and we both realized we’re a little less than calm, cool, and collected sometimes–funny little companion icebreaker moment. 😉
 
Also, I got Shatto milk, Naked Juice, and chocolate cupcakes to celebrate my year mark.  Sister Moody and I were on shift together that day so we had the cupcakes together.  May 8th will forever be a day to celebrate.  =)  The mission is great.  Life is full.  The gospel is the BEST.
 
love,
Sister Rackham
 
1. Sister Raymer, Sister Moody, and me–S. Raymer wasn’t on shift, but she popped in for a second. =)  Yay for chocolate cupcakes!

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2. Our attempt at a zone picture at zone training last Friday.  We line up the cameras on the stage, set the timers, someone hits the buttons and we all run into place.  And it turns out like that. 😉  It’s S. Forbush’s last one!  And we’re back in the same zone. =)
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Hansen Rackham

Dearest family and friends,

Hello from the center place of Zion!  (Ok, really close to the center place of Zion.)  Transfers happened and I got moved down to serve in the VC–surprise surprise. 😉  I’m serving in the Blue Springs 2nd ward with Sister Hansen. (As the subject line implies.)  Davis, I think it’s sweet that my companion’s last name is Hansen because now we’re 2/3 of your name!  If only we were serving in Daviess County…  VC lfe works a lot like HLJ life, but we have our own car and we live with members–it’s the perfect blend of Liberty and Albany.  We live 20 minutes outside Inde so we drive through beautiful rolling hills every day and we saw deer yesterday morning from our back yard.  And we serve in these pretty little suburbs so there are people everywhere!  And stoplights with 3 colors!  And not nearly as many cows, but we do have a handful.  I love everything about my life here. =)

So, the VC.  It’s fun!  I feel like a new missionary (who is coming up on her year mark…) and that’s interesting, but I have to relearn the details of the history and how all the behind the scenes stuff flows here, but I’m getting the hang of it.  I’ve taken 2 solo presentations so far and had a ball.  Busy season at the VC is coming and I’m stoked! =)  I took this one couple through who are going to Jerusalem in a few months.  I drew them a map of the city and marked the places they should go–crazy how it all comes back when you need it.  Another thing I love about the VC is actually more than 20 other non-things–other missionaries!!!  Most of my sisters from my HLJ days are back at the VC so I get to see them again.  And I get to meet these fabulous sisters who I’ve heard about but not met until now.  Sister Jorgensen and Sister Forbush are both here!  As are Sisters White, Raymer, Moody, Jacobs, Thurston, Wood, and the whole crew!  It’s a blasty, basically.

And, my area!  Blue Springs 2nd is on fire!  Our first day as companions we found this girl who let us right in, wanted the whole first lesson, and agreed to be baptized at the end of the month!  And last night, we started a lesson by singing for our investigators and it brought the Spirit so powerfully–plus, we were teaching them lesson 3 from PMG which is all about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If I had to pick a favorite lesson from PMG, it would be 3, or 1, or 2.  Let’s just not pick a favorite…  Our bishop is super involved with the work and he introduced us to his neighbors on Friday.  I feel like this might be my last area and I think that would be ok with me.

As my year mark is approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am and where I would have been without the mission.  I would have had a happy life, it would have been fulfilling, and full of joy, and I would be living the gospel, keeping my convenants, and generally having it good.  I was on track for a beautiful life before I left.  And this mission is still the best thing I could have been doing for the past year.  I knew the gospel before, but now I know how to teach the gospel. (That was one of the things that made me nervous about being a mom–I didn’t have a clue how to teach the gospel, now I’ve had a year of practice, which is better than a clue.)  I knew my Savior before the mission, but now I know how to introduce Him to others.  And I know Him so much better now.  We were friends before, now we’re inseperable.  I knew Heavenly Father had a master plan before, now I’ve seen that plan in action up close and personal in the lives of people I was sent here to find.  I love my mission.  I love this gospel.  I love my Savior.  This is without a doubt the COOLEST, BEST, MOST WONDERFUL (and difficult and stretching) things He has ever asked me to do and it has been a privilege to do it!  Hurrah for Israel!  And we don’t even have been be all sentimental because the mission isn’t even close to over. =)

love and hugs and prayers,
Sister Rackham

1. Sister Hansen and myself

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2. Sister Michaelson, Sister Rackham, and Sister Forbush (note the generation shirt S. Michaelson is wearing…)

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3. Elder Fisihetau (from Liberty days, currently serving in the same ward as Sister J, again), the Laudies, also from Liberty, at the VC for a special presentation on temples, and me.

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Aside

That is wisdom from Sister Forbush.  I love that the people I’ve taken into my life are still a part of my life.  As my time in Albany is wrapping up, I realize again how much I detest goodbyes.  And that is why I love the gospel.  “There is no such thing as the end because of Him.”  That makes me want to jump up for joy and punch the air, you know?

It’s been a good week.  Zenaida is back from Mexico.  Karen’s family all joined us for our lesson on the Plan of Salvation and they had good questions. I got to go on exchanges down in Cameron and see Tawny–remember her?  (“snaps for Jesus” lady…?) That was fun!  I got to meet (and take a picture with) the head coach for the KC Chiefs.  And I’m losing my voice so I sound alternately like a man and like a chipmunk. Sister Michaelason keeps feeding me honey and lime juice, but I don’t think it’s working so I take cold medicine when she isn’t looking. 😉

The highlight of the week was definitely yesterday, though.  We had a potluck after church and TONS of people came!  Unity has been a main goal/focus for the branch and it was beautiful to see everyone come together like that and really enjoy being together.  And having so many people I love all in one place put me on cloud nine. =)  And then we came home to finish studies and it occurred to me that this is the end of my Albany time and I broke down and cried like a little kid.  Sister Michaelson made me hot cocoa.  If you had told me when I showed up here that I would love it this much and I would miss it this much, I would have nodded and smiled and said, “Yeah…” and now my heart feels like it solidly belongs up here with these good people.  I’m excited for new adventures and all, but I’m really going to miss this.  I wish you could just come be here with me so you could see and know what I mean.

This place has meant a lot to me.  I’ve actually grown!  I wrote a letter to myself in the MTC as if I were writing it at the end of my mission.  I went back and found that letter the other day and read it.  All the things I told myself I would learn and the ways I would grow, all of that is happening.  How did I know that? It’s weird.  But in a good way because it means I’m developing intentionally the way I want to.  I love my mission.  I love my Savior  I know He lives.  That’s really important.  I know He cares.  Also very important.  He can refine us and stretch us and engrave His image in our countenances if we let Him.  My goal for the rest of my forever is to let Him mold me into the best me I can become and I trust that He will–for me, and for all who ask Him to.  Ask and ye shall receive.

Random moment of beauty: Reading scriptures with a part-member family whom I love dearly, the Janssens, and their youngest daughter asks to choose the scripture. This sweet 7 year-old girl flips to Moroni 10:4-5 and reads it (with some help from her mom) aloud to us.  Her 15 year-old sister then gets really excited and turns to 3 Nephi 18:19-20 and bears testimony of God answering prayers.  This good man who hasn’t yet joined the Church has some of the most valiant examples of loving the gospel living in his own home.  He’ll come around someday.  I told him that.  Just waiting for that sweet “told you so” moment with them in the temple someday. =)

I love you!  Have a happy week!

love,
Sister Rackham

Life is good. God is good. And having God in your life is REAL good.

That is wisdom from Sister Forbush.  I love that the people I’ve taken into my life are still a part of my life.  As my time in Albany is wrapping up, I realize again how much I detest goodbyes.  And that is why I love the gospel.  “There is no such thing as the end because of Him.”  That makes me want to jump up for joy and punch the air, you know?

It’s been a good week.  Zenaida is back from Mexico.  Karen’s family all joined us for our lesson on the Plan of Salvation and they had good questions. I got to go on exchanges down in Cameron and see Tawny–remember her?  (“snaps for Jesus” lady…?) That was fun!  I got to meet (and take a picture with) the head coach for the KC Chiefs.  And I’m losing my voice so I sound alternately like a man and like a chipmunk. Sister Michaelason keeps feeding me honey and lime juice, but I don’t think it’s working so I take cold medicine when she isn’t looking. 😉

The highlight of the week was definitely yesterday, though.  We had a potluck after church and TONS of people came!  Unity has been a main goal/focus for the branch and it was beautiful to see everyone come together like that and really enjoy being together.  And having so many people I love all in one place put me on cloud nine. =)  And then we came home to finish studies and it occurred to me that this is the end of my Albany time and I broke down and cried like a little kid.  Sister Michaelson made me hot cocoa.  If you had told me when I showed up here that I would love it this much and I would miss it this much, I would have nodded and smiled and said, “Yeah…” and now my heart feels like it solidly belongs up here with these good people.  I’m excited for new adventures and all, but I’m really going to miss this.  I wish you could just come be here with me so you could see and know what I mean.

This place has meant a lot to me.  I’ve actually grown!  I wrote a letter to myself in the MTC as if I were writing it at the end of my mission.  I went back and found that letter the other day and read it.  All the things I told myself I would learn and the ways I would grow, all of that is happening.  How did I know that? It’s weird.  But in a good way because it means I’m developing intentionally the way I want to.  I love my mission.  I love my Savior  I know He lives.  That’s really important.  I know He cares.  Also very important.  He can refine us and stretch us and engrave His image in our countenances if we let Him.  My goal for the rest of my forever is to let Him mold me into the best me I can become and I trust that He will–for me, and for all who ask Him to.  Ask and ye shall receive.

Random moment of beauty: Reading scriptures with a part-member family whom I love dearly, the Janssens, and their youngest daughter asks to choose the scripture. This sweet 7 year-old girl flips to Moroni 10:4-5 and reads it (with some help from her mom) aloud to us.  Her 15 year-old sister then gets really excited and turns to 3 Nephi 18:19-20 and bears testimony of God answering prayers.  This good man who hasn’t yet joined the Church has some of the most valiant examples of loving the gospel living in his own home.  He’ll come around someday.  I told him that.  Just waiting for that sweet “told you so” moment with them in the temple someday. =)

I love you!  Have a happy week!

love,
Sister Rackham

Joy! Thank goodness for fake middle names.

Hi all!

Happy Easter! =)  Happy Monday!  Happy Spring!  Happy day!  Sister Rackham is in quite a jolly mood right now. =)  That might have something to do with the fact that I just read this great story from my daddy about giving people a ride to Orlando and a Book of Mormon.  Love it when the family is super cool.  And mine is all the time, so thanks, family!!!

So this week… I was mostly in Independence!  We drove down there on p-day last week and were there thru Wednesday.  We stayed with Sisters Forbush Gunter, Liu, and White again.  The VC trainings with the people from SLC were fabulous!  I feel like when I serve in the VC, it’s going to feel like this weirdly familiar yet totally new thing.  I’ll be thrown into new missionary mode.  It will be really good for me.  I’ve been here in Albany for almost 7 months so a fresh start will stretch me again.  I love this little place. And I missed it this week!  The branch kinda got on our case, too… 😉  “Long time so nee, stranger.”  I got that a few times.  It feels good to be missed.  We came back to Albany Wednesday and stayed thru Friday and drove back to Inde on Friday night.  Friday night we stayed with Sister Jorgensen.  She and I went to the temple way early on Saturday morning because…..

THE BURCHS GOT SEALED!!!!!!  Yup.  I wrote all over April 19th (way before it happened)  BEST DAY OF MY MISSION!!!! =) =) =)  Because it was.  Being in the temple with people I adore and watching them get to make sacred covenants and enter into eternal joy is the most wonderful feeling!  There aren’t words.  Just love and joy.  They had a reception for them at the stake center right after and it was so good to see all my Liberty 1st family–they all remembered me! Also such a good feeling!

Karen is still doing great, brought her kids to church again this week!  And she’s on date for May 17th.  Enrique isn’t on date anymore.  It’s a long story and it’s mostly in Spanish that I don’t quite understand, so I don’t really want to talk about it.  I just sometimes wonder if I’ve been misunderstanding him the whole time or if he doesn’t get it the way I thought he did.  He stood up his baptismal interview yesterday.  Disappointment has become a very familiar acquaintance of mine.  But fortunately, the Savior has the antidote for disappointment and it’s called hope.  I’ve said this before because I think it all the time, but it’s such a good thing that our hope is in Christ because He never stands us up or lets us down.

We’re going to AOA and Jamesport again today–3rd time’s a charm, right? And since transfers are next week, it might be my last time for awhile…  Weird.  I’m happy.  Loving the mission.  Loving the gospel.  =)  It’s real and it makes people happy.  Let it change you.  I love you all!

love,

Sister Rackham

1. S. Michaelson made me a cow cookie.  LOVE cows. =)

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2. The Burchs with their sister missionaries–Sisters Jorgensen, Rackham, and Sommer. I didn’t look to see what order we’re in–but you know who’s who.DSCN2091-1

3. Brother Smith has a pet squirrel and we got to hold it!  Cute!  And gross.  But cute… Only in Albany. 😉

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