Monday, December 29, 2014

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Hola familia! 

So Christmas was pretty great! It was so nice to see Delaney and my beautiful family through Skype! We ended up spending Christmas night knocking doors by where we live. It went pretty well we talked to a few interesting people haha. Christmas morning our downstairs neighbors from the 1st Ward had us over for breakfast! It was so nice of them we had a great time. I ate so much I felt like I was going to throw up because I was was so full and the anticipation of talking to my family right after didn't help haha! But overall it was a pretty great first missionary Christmas. 

So on Tuesday we got to go to the TEMPLE as a zone! It was awesome I love the Chicago Temple! Afterwards we all met at the mission home for lunch and a meeting where President Woodbury gave us a new scripture challenge. As a mission we are now reading the Book of Mormon and highlighting the Christlike attributes. I'm way excited for this challenge and for everything I'm going to learn! We also had a little gift exchange which was pretty fun too :)

On Christmas Eve we had district meeting then we went to hermana bautistas house and helped her make tamales! It was quite the process. They turned out way good I'm glad I got to help make them! On Friday morning our district met at the church and the young women made us breakfast. It was so nice off them! 

Well this week was mainly jumping from one holiday activity to the next and talking to everyone along the way. Right now we're really just trying to find more people to teach and we're working hard! I'm definitely excited for this new year and for all the experiences ahead on my mission. This church is true! I love my Savior and I know He lives. 

Keep smiling!

Hermana Knowles 

Spending P-day at the bowling alley with our zone and then I think we're going to head to the Lincoln Park Zoo! Then of course dinner with the Rodriguez family tonight :) 
Happy new year I love you all! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Navidad en Chicago!

What the Christmas?! That came so fast! Sorry I don't have a lot of
time so this email will be pretty short but I at least wanted to wish
everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS! We've been caroling as a district a lot
and spreading the spirit of Christmas to everyone! The relief society
gave all the missionaries an awesome gift of food and other
essentials! They're the best! I've really been able to feel the love
of our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ throughout this
Christmas season and I hope you all have been able to as well and
continue to experience the joy of the Gospel!

 I love my Savior and I'm so thankful to have this knowledge of Him in
my life and this opportunity I have to serve others and help them come
to a knowledge of our Savior as well as I serve as a full time
representative of the Lord. This church is true. There is no doubt
whatsoever in my mind. Our loving Father in Heaven has a plan for each
of us and it is perfect. There is never anything that we have to go
through in our lives alone. We will always have the comfort of our
Savior Jesus Christ. I love you all and I'm so very thankful for such
loving family and friends. I pray for you each day and I'm seeing the
impact of your prayers as well. Have a Feliz Navidad and... keep
smiling :)

Hermana Knowles

Yareli her aunt and her cousin all in white! Yareli is the one with
the rock star pose :)

Missionary Selfies

Gingerbread cookies


Relief Society Christmas

R.S. Christmas present

Saturday, December 20, 2014

¡Regocijad! Jesus Nació

Hola familia! 

The end of the transfer was on Saturday and Hermana Gonzalez and I will be STAYING in Chicago 4th for 7 more weeks! This is Hermana Gonzalez's last transfer of her mission so I will be her last companion! She told me for this transfer she is going to try to talk to me only in Spanish. I'm really looking forward to that! She said she's noticed that my spanish accent is sounding more Mexican haha. I'm most certainly looking forward to this upcoming transfer. I know we're going to be working so hard to share the gospel with everyone! 

There's a lady we usually visit on Tuesdays in the nursing home and she's pretty sweet. This last Tuesday after we shared a quick message with her we sang a Christmas hymn to her and she absolutely LOVED it! I've never seen her smile so big before. I definitely looking forward to singing to her again soon! 

When we knocked doors on Tuesday night we tried a new approach where we just showed people the Christmas video, He is the Gift, at their doorstep (unless they let us in of course). It went super well! It brought up a lot of good conversation about the true meaning of Christmas and a few people even told us we could come back and share another message with their families. If anyone reading this hasn't already seen this video then go watch it right now! It's so powerful and beautiful! or

After district meeting on Wednesday we finally took a group picture with our Christmas attire and I though we looked rather festive! Hermana Shipp and Mansfield are being transferred to different areas tomorrow and the Ward is receiving two more elders. It'll be weird with 6 elders and 2 Hermanas in the ward for sure! Hermana Shipp and I have been together since day 1 at the CCM! That's crazy! 

This weekend we went caroling with our district and it was pretty fun! It actually wasn't too cold out which made it really nice. We're planning on going on Friday as well with more of the ward members and so I'm excited about that. 

So YARELI GOT BAPTIZED on Saturday! It was such a beautiful baptismal service. We're going to see Yareli again on Friday so we got her a little journal to record her spiritual experiences. She got baptized with her aunt and cousin it was so amazing! The Spirit was so strong and I'm just so glad I got to be there.

I'm sorry this email is so short but know that I love you all! I'm doing really well and I'm looking forward to this upcoming transfer. I know this church is true and I'm so thankful for this time of year where we can take more time to remember our Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives and loves us. He was the greatest gift we could ever receive from our Father in Heaven and I invite you all to #sharethegift! 

Keep smiling, 

Hermana Knowles
Yareli's baptism

The "Home Alone" house.

district Christmas spirit

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Él es la Dádiva

I'm so sorry I didn't send an email last week! Last P-day was just so crazy and we ended up being out of the apartment all day. I'll try my best to sum up these past two weeks for everyone! 

So two pdays ago (the 24th) we were going all over the place to find the best price on earmuffs because my ears had been freezing the week before. So when we finally found a pair that we decided to buy I went to purchase it and my personal card didn't work (I figured it out and it's all good now) so I wasn't able to get earmuffs that day and I was pretty upset because I just wanted my ears to be warm. So I prayed that somehow I would be able to keep myself warm enough for the next week and my prayer was answered the very next day. One of the hermanas in the ward accompanied us to an appointment and then afterwards she asked if we could meet with her again later that day and of course we told her we would. So we met her at her house and she had us follow her to a nearby store. She told us, "hermanas I know you're far from home and as a member in the ward you're serving in I feel a responsibility to make sure you have the things you need so I want to make sure you have enough warm clothes." She got me a pair of gloves, a scarf, and the earmuffs I couldn't buy the day before. I am so thankful for Hermana Bautista and a loving Heavenly Father who knows our needs. 

I had a pretty superb thanksgiving! Our entire district met at the bishops house for lunch which was pretty fun. The lady I sat next to for the meal was so funny, she had the loudest laugh ever! It was like one of those laughs where it starts out as a high pitched screech followed by smaller chuckles of laughter. It was hilarious. So I thought it would be funny to cover my ears each time she laughed and she most certainly thought it was funny too. After the meal the bishop asked how we enjoyed spending thanksgiving with them and I said, "¡fue muy bien pero ya no me puedo oír!" So much fun. In the evening we went to have dinner with the Rodriguez family and they're the best! We also see them every Monday night and I love them so very much! 

María is a sweet lady that the elders have been teaching and she got baptized on Saturday the 29th! The baptismal service was beautiful and I'm so glad I got to be there. Elder Drebing asked if I would play piano as a musical number at the baptism so I'm really glad I got to be a part of it. 

Guess what was FINALLY on last Sunday (the 30th)! ¡La programa de la primaria! It was so dang adorable. I think my favorite part about playing the piano for that was being able to look out into the chapel and seeing everyone's faces as these sweet children were singing and reciting their parts. They all did such a great job! I am most certainly going to miss practicing with them. 

So being in an area with a car we get a certain amount of miles we can drive each month and our area is HUGE so sometimes we struggle to make sure we stay within our miles. But last month somehow we ended up with a lot of extra miles. We've never been to the top of our area before because it's so far away so we decided to pay a little visit to our northern border because we had the miles to do so! We tried to find some Hispanic communities while we were up there but didn't really have much luck, but we took a picture at our area border haha. It's pretty lame though because the sign was so bright that you can't even tell what it says but we know why that picture is significant so that's all that matters, right? 

So like I mentioned earlier, last P-day was pretty crazy running from place to place, but the highlight of the day was most certainly when we all went to get ugly Christmas sweaters! Our entire district was supposed to get one so hopefully we can all take a picture together soon so everyone can see our holiday spirit! 

So on Tuesday we had exchanges! I went to Logan Square with Hermana Izu and Hermana Gonzalez stayed here with Hermana Hammond. I seriously have never seen so many miracles in one day. I learned so much and I'm so thankful for the experiences I had during this exchange. 

Miracle number one: The first person we went to visit is such a sweet lady. She has been struggling with a few things lately and was telling us about it during our visit. Throughout the lesson Hermana Izu was comforting her and I hadn't spoken since I introduced myself. For a majority of the time I was struggling to find the words to say to her so I was just praying in my head that Heavenly Father would give me the words she needed to hear and to know when to say them. The answer I felt was that Hermana Izu would let me know when I would share my thoughts. A few minutes after my prayer Hermana Izu told this woman to say a quick prayer in her head to clear her mind. Then she said, "Now I need you to pay special attention to what Hermana Knowles has to say because she has something in her heart that she wants to share with you and it's from God." The feeling of the spirit in that moment was overwhelming. I felt so strongly that our Savior was there comforting this woman and after I told her that, tears streamed down her face and I knew she could feel it too. After the lesson I told Hermana Izu about my prayer and she was amazed because she said she's never really been impressed like that to say that her companion had something to say. It was amazing! Miracle moment for sure.

Miracle number two: Hermana Izu and I went to visit a potential new investigator and we had a member that was going to meet us there. We got to the address and found out the member couldn't make it so we knocked the door anyway and the person didn't end up being interested in our message. So everything basically fell through for that plan. Our backup plan was to stop by some other potential new investigators but as we were walking to the car I looked down the street we were on and felt that we needed to walk that way. I told Hermana Izu and she gladly accompanied me down this street as we followed this prompting. As we were walking I felt to turn right down another street and we talked to the first person we saw. This lady was so nice! We asked if she's heard of the church before and she said that she herself was not a member but her mother who had recently passed away was a member of the church. When we gave her a card and invited her to check out she said she felt that her mom had sent us to her. After we talked to her I felt like that was the exact reason we were supposed to walk down that street. It was such a beautiful experience. 

I learned so much from this exchange but overall I learned how to really listen to and follow the spirit. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and He loves each of us so much. As we are worthy and willing He will guide us through the spirit to say and do what He needs of us. 

Hermana Gonzalez and I have been teaching the gospel to a sweet nine year old girl named Yareli. This Saturday Yareli will be getting baptized! The Elders have been teaching her aunt and cousin and they will all be baptized the same day. I'm so happy and excited for them! 

This week is also the end of the transfer. It was a week short because of Christmas. This upcoming transfer will be the last one before Hermana Gonzalez goes home! We'll see what happens! 

I'm so thankful for all of you and I love you all so much! I'm doing so well in this wonderful mission and we're seeing miracles. I know this church is true. God lives and loves us. Our Savior lives and because of Him we can overcome anything. Our families can be together forever. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and through it we can find peace and guidance. The church has been restored through Joseph Smith and President Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet on the earth today. I know these things are true with all my heart and I also know that anyone can know these truths for themselves as they sincerely ask our Father in Heaven through prayer. Stay strong my beautiful family and friends!

Keep smiling!

Hermana Knowles

Also! If anyone hasn't already seen the Christmas video from the church WATCH IT NOW! It's so beautiful. May we all remember what Christmas is really about. Our Heavenly Father gave us the greatest gift of all, our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us so that we can overcome all things. What gifts can we give the Savior in return this Christmas?


Monday, November 24, 2014

Fear Not I Am With Thee

Hola familia! 

This week went pretty well! Wednesday was awesome because we had zone conference! It was so good! They focused a lot on: Fear not I am with thee. Basically about how as missionaries we shouldn't be afraid because our Savior is always by our side as we do His work. They tied this in really well with talking to people on the street, or contacting. How we shouldn't fear about what they're going to say but that it is our responsibility as a representative of Jesus Christ to give EVERYONE the opportunity to hear the message of His restored gospel. We did an activity where we had to role play contacting someone but each person was asked to put a bandaid on the hairiest part of your arm and then right before we started the role play we had to rip it off. Then we were asked to put the bandaid back on the same spot and do it again but of course the second time it really didn't hurt at all. Sometimes it's really hard to just stop someone on the street and talk to them but if we just do it then it will be easier to talk to the next person and then the next and the next! Let me just say, I've talked to so many people since then and it wasn't so easy at first but now I'm starting to love it! Yeah it's rough to get rejected but then there's those people who are genuinely thankful you took the time to stop them and give them a card and it's all worth it. And the Lord is by our side each step of the way! When we are on the Lord's errand we are entitled to His help. 

We had an appointment with our progressing investigator and it didn't go quite as planned. At the beginning she said that she has been feeling some doubts and that she feels she's losing the desire to keep learning. It tore my heart to pieces to hear that. We asked her why she liked having us over and she said that she always feels so calm when we're in her home and that she really feels that the Book of Mormon is true. I asked her how she knew the Book of Mormon was true and she said she prayed about it and felt a peace and calm and that Heavenly Father answered her prayers. I shared with her Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23: "22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?" There are always going to be times that try our faith but as we stay strong and see things from a heavenly perspective we can endure and find lasting happiness through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He will help us obtain that testimony and through the trial of our faith it can be made stronger. Heavenly Father knows us best and He will never leave us comfort less. 

Saturday was kind of crazy but it ended up going really well! Hermana Gonzalez went to her former area with her old companion to see someone they worked with get baptized! So while they were gone I went with the other companion to their area. They serve in the Lake Shore YSA ward, English speaking! It was way fun. Kind of weird, but fun haha. Their area is MUCH closer to the city so there are people walking around everywhere! It's so awesome I got to talk to so many people! We hung out with one of their investigators, Marc. He's from Liberia and has lived in Chicago for about 4 months now I think. I took a picture with him in from of some graffiti! While we were walking down the street with Marc I noticed a lady a little ways in front of us who was struggling with her groceries. So I ran ahead and asked her if I could help and she was so thankful. I took half of them and as we walked to her apartment I got to know her a little and shared with her a small message about our Savior. She said she was having kind of a rough day and she was so thankful for my help. She said she's talked with missionaries before but never had the time to meet with them. I asked her if she wanted the sisters information and she gladly accepted. I LOVE SERVICE. 

The primary program is FINALLY next Sunday! STOKED. 

Well I absolutely love being a missionary. It's not always easy but it most certainly is always worth it. I know this church is true. I love my Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that our families can be together forever and that the priesthood is the power of God here on the earth. I love the people of Chicago and there's no where I'd rather be. I love you all and I hope everyone has the best week! Please never forget to... Keep smiling :)

Hermana Knowles

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Introducing: Hermana Gonzalez!

First of all shout out to dad! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm so thankful to have
such a supportive and loving father. You're the best!

This week was a little crazy but overall good! Tuesday morning was
definitely the craziest. We got up pretty early to go to the transfer
meeting. Funny side note, I fell down the stairs when we left the
apartment. I thought it was hilarious. I really enjoyed transfer
meeting! I met Hermana Gonzalez and she's awesome! Here's a little bit
about her: she's from West Jordan Utah, both of her parents are from
Mexico, she's been a missionary for almost 16 months, and her spanish
is basically perfect! I know I'm going to learn a lot from her and I'm
so excited for this transfer!

So far Hermana Gonzalez and I agree that we work pretty well together!
We went to visit a less active member on Wednesday and after we shared
our message we were saying that we were going to leave and the lady
was like, "not so fast!" She made us some hot chocolate and gave us
some bread and fruit. She is way sweet! She really wanted us to stay.
She was so funny she was like, "do you have an appointment to get to?
I know your schedule you don't have to be home until 9!" Such a gem!

Our landlords took us out to a Chinese restaurant on Thursday which
was way nice of them! It was really fun hanging out with them, we
definitely have the best landlords ever!

Our week mainly consisted of a few appointments, some service, and a
lot of knocking doors. One door we knocked was an Indian family who
spoke very little English, but they let us in anyway! It was pretty
hard for us to understand each other but thats where the Spirit comes
in! We were able to get across a very simple message of how we have a
loving Heavenly Father and that our families can be together forever.
I felt the Spirit and I'm sure they felt it too. I'm thankful we were
able to spend a few minutes with that family.

We have an investigator who is progressing really well! She's really
amazing and has such a strong desire to know the truth and LIVE IT! We
taught her the word of wisdom the other day and at first, just like
everyone we teach this to, she was a little shocked about not being
able to drink coffee but then she was like, "yeah I don't have to have
that." How cool is she?! It's just hard for her because her boyfriend
doesn't want anything to do with the church. Please pray for them!

So it's nice and FREEZING here. Winters coming! I don't feel very
ready but I'll get over it haha. It snowed the other day so that was
pretty exciting. This wind is ridiculous! It just pierces the soul! So
I wouldn't recommend visiting Chicago in the winter. Haha

Sorry this email is shorter than the usual! Just know how much I love
you all! There's no where I'd rather be than where the Lord needs me
to be. I love being a missionary and I love the people of Chicago. I
don't have a lot of time to serve them so I want to make the most of
each moment. I testify that the Lord takes care of us, He loves us and
He will always be there for us to lean on Him. I love the quote, "when
life gets too hard to stand, kneel." We can always count on prayer,
but we must be patient and and have faith that everything is in the
Lords timing. If we do our part, then He will always keep His promises
and we will be blessed. I know this church is true and through the
Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can find peace, joy, and understanding. I
love you all and I hope everyone has a great week!

Keep smiling,

Hermana Knowles

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Asombro Me Da

Hey Everyone!

Another splendid week in the Chicago missionary life! The week started kinda slow but it most certainly picked up. On Wednesday night we went to Hermana Hurtado's house and she made us some arepas! So good! I seriously look forward to the day that her and mom meet. It'll be just one big ol Venezuelan fiesta haha. After visiting with her we had a small list of people to visit and then we returned to the apartment. When we were at the apartment we realized that we couldn't find our phone so we checked in the car and it wasn't in there. So we figured we must have lost it sometime while we were visiting people. The next morning after our studies we decided to go back and retrace our steps. After going back to all the houses from the last night we still couldn't find it so we went back to the apartment. I was a little discouraged through the process at first but I felt a reassurance that we would be able to find it. When we got back to the apartment we saw that we received a message on facebook from our zone leaders who said that they had our phone! We went and picked it up from them and they said a man found it in the street and called some of our contacts. Heavenly Father was definitely looking out for us and it was such a blessing that we were able to get it back. 

We visit the Robledo Family every Friday and I most certainly love them! We shared a message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and focused on the importance of baptism. It went really well and I could feel the Spirit so strong. After the lesson I invited Yareli, the youngest daughter, to be baptized and she said that is what she wants to do. Her mother agreed and we are preparing a baptismal service for December 13, the same day her cousin and aunt will be baptized! We're so excited for this family, they're amazing! Please pray for them. 

Saturday was awesome! We had an amazing lesson with our investigator, Nadya. She's one of those people who has been prepared to receive the missionaries at this time and it's very apparent. She has so much faith and such a strong desire to follow the Savior. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and Hermana Sanjuan from the ward came with us. Hermana Sanjuan shared such a powerful testimony on eternal families and it was absolutely beautiful. After the lesson Hermana Michael invited her to prepare herself for baptism next month as well and she accepted! It's going to take a lot of work but we are putting our faith into it and working as hard as we can to make sure she is ready. Please pray for her as well! 

Also on Saturday night our ward had an activity called la noche de talentos! It was so much fun and so cool to see everyone participate. A lot of the members from the ward performed a dance from their home countries and that was sweet! A few people played instruments, and even all the missionaries participated! We did a day in the life of a missionary. We cut holes into a sheet where the elders could poke their heads through and made some mini missionaries. The same elder who's head is showing is also the feet of the missionary and a different elder was the hands, if that makes sense haha Thats probably a confusing explanation but I'll send pictures. The ward loved it! I also played piano for a member who sang for the talent show and that was way fun too! She sang I Stand All Amazed, or Asombro me da en español! 

Saturday was also a day that all the missionaries have been anticipating because it was the end of the transfer! During la noche de talentos we received a text saying, "you WILL receive a transfer call." We received a phone call later that night and Elder Jacobs told us what would be happening. Hermana Michael will be moving to Rensselaer, Indiana and I will be taking over this area with my new companion, Hermana Gonzalez! I'm sad to see Hermana Michael go but I'm excited for her! I haven't heard too much about Hermana Gonzalez but it's all been good things. I'm really looking forward to meeting her tomorrow morning and starting our companionship! We're going to work so hard! 

Sunday went pretty well, that primary program is sounding good! Haha. I really love this ward they're all so great and I'm so excited I get to continue serving with them!

This morning we went to have lunch in the city and that was super fun! In total there were 5 companionships of hermanas and one of them brought a member from their ward which was super fun especially because she only speaks Spanish so we all just spoke Spanish for most of lunch. I love the city! Tonight we're having dinner with the family in our ward that is from Brazil. They're amazing and I'm excited to be in their home tonight and spend time with them. 

I hope everyone is doing great! I love hearing from all of you and I'm so thankful for this precious time to be a full time servant of the Lord. I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet on the earth today who guides this church by divine revelation. Jesus Christ is and will always be at the head of this church. I love this gospel and I love you all! Have an amazing week and if I could suggest anything to make it better I would say to always strive to remember our Savior, Jesus Christ. :)

Keep smiling, 

Hermana Knowles

This picture sums up my companionship with Hermana
Michael. I sure do love singing in the car haha.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Israel, Jesús os llama

Hola familia y amigos! 
I was actually pretty sick this entire last week but I'm doing much better now! Although I was sick we still went out and saw some progress in the area. On Wednesday night we were out knocking some doors and looking for former investigators. At the last door we knocked we saw these two men talking to each other while one of them was raking his leaves a few houses down. We decided to go talk to them and offer to help rake their leaves. Eventually after some discussion we set a time the next day where we would come back and rake his leaves. When we came back on Thursday we brought some English Elders with us because this man doesn't speak Spanish. He wasn't home at first so we raked his leaves in the meantime. When he came home he was very thankful for our service and shared with us some things he's been struggling with. We left the elders to share a quick message with him about the restoration and they told us it went really well! His name is Anthony and while we were talking to him on Wednesday night he kept mentioning how he was Greek and that he knows how to make all this Greek food. It was pretty funny actually. Then while Hermana Michael was putting him into the schedule for the next day she said "Rake Anthony's leaves," but he thought she said Greek Anthony. He was like, "Did you say Greek Anthony?" And we said, "No, but can we call you that?" He said yes and thought it was rather hilarious. So now the Elders are working with Greek Anthony! 

We had another appointment with one of our progressing investigators and it went really well! She's amazing! This was our third visit with her and she is already in 1 Nephi 10 and she read Moroni 10 which we left for her to read last time! She said that while she reads she feels that it is true and she really wants to come to church! Her only obstacle is that her boyfriend doesn't want her to go. One of the members in the ward offered to take her to church but her novio wasn't too comfortable with that. We're trying to find a time where we can meet with both of them and hopefully he'll soften his heart as we teach him too. Please pray for them! 

We met with a few members this week too! On Thursday night I had the most non-hispanic meal yet with a member. Spaghetti, garlic bread, and cheesecake. She saved the day and brought in some chips and salsa though so it all worked out. She invited an investigator who the elders have been teaching to have dinner with us which was awesome! We shared a message about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and all of their responses were beautiful!  

On Friday all but one of our appointments cancelled. It was crazy but it worked out. We went to the library and got a few things done, then we went to the church and I practiced piano for the primary program for a while then we had to be back in the apartment by 7 because it was Halloween. My Halloween evening consisted of reading scriptures and cup of noodles haha. It was rather excellent. 

Church went really well yesterday! Fast Sunday in this ward is the best. I'm really so thankful I get to serve in this ward and that I've gotten to know everyone so well! When everyone was going up to share their testimony I really felt at home and that I really love these people. It was beautiful. Of course I spent the remainder of church with the primary playing piano for them. It's sounding good! We had a ton of people at church yesterday, too! A lot of less active members and a few investigators! It was such a blessing! I know Heavenly Father is blessing this ward from all the hard work the missionaries and the members have been putting in lately and I hope this attendance continues! 

Tonight Hermana Michael and I are teaching for a family home evening at the church with the ward and I'm pretty excited about it! We planned this game and I think it will be way fun. Well that's how the wonderful missionary life in Chicago is going! I hope everyone is doing super great! I just want you all to know that there's no doubt in my mind that this church is true. I've seen miracles and feel so close to my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ as I faithfully serve the people of Chicago. I've felt the greatest joy in service. To see others as the Savior sees them. I testify of the power of the Holy Ghost and prayer. This week we went to visit a family who has really been struggling a lot. I was really lost for words most of the lesson and that frustrated me because I wanted to be able to contribute and comfort them. I just bore simple testimony and at the end we closed with a kneeling prayer. During the prayer the Spirit touched my heart so strong that tears started falling down my cheeks and I just knew that everything was going to be ok and I know everyone in that home felt it too. The Spirit is powerful and it will touch your heart if you let it. I love you all and hope you have a great week! 

Keep smiling,

Hermana Knowles :) 
This is really the only picture I have to share this week. It
basically sums up my Halloween evening!

I also love this quote by Elder Holland. Love you all!

Monday, October 27, 2014

El Plan de Dios Puedo Seguir

My email subject is one of the songs the primary kids are singing for their program :) in English it's "I Will Follow God's Plan."

On Tuesday I had my last NEW missionary training meeting! I really enjoyed it. President gave an awesome lesson where he broke down each part of D&C 4:2, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." We went over how we can serve God with ALL of our HEART, MIGHT, MIND, and STRENGTH. I always leave these meetings pretty pumped to do the work and it's awesome! Towards the end of the meeting the new missionaries and the trainers split off for a few minutes for a spiritual message. While I was with all the new missionaries so much came to my mind that I felt like I needed to share, but I also felt like I wasn't supposed to share it right then. It was a little confusing but I felt like I knew I would be given an opportunity to share these thoughts later. When we rejoined with the other missionaries president began to conclude the meeting and he said before the meeting was over he felt inspired that I should come up and share my testimony. Can I just say how much I love the Spirit? It's amazing! So when I went up I felt like I knew exactly what I was supposed to say and it brought me to tears. My message was simply that we must live our missions right now in a way that we will be so excited to share the things we've done and learned with our children. When the Spirit brought that to my attention it really touched me and put things into perspective. I know that my mission doesn't end here in Chicago, but that I will be a missionary my whole life. I also know that there are people here who are waiting for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and I will cherish these experiences of serving them forever. 

After the new missionary training meeting Hermana Michael and I went and knocked a couple potential new investigators and they either weren't home or didn't want to listen to us. So we headed back to the car and we saw a young man walking on the opposite side of the road from where we parked and both Hermana Michael and I felt that we should talk to him but we didn't tell each other. It was a very subtle feeling for both of us. We ended up just getting in the car and we drove down the road and made a uturn to get back on the main road so we passed him a second time. We both got that subtle feeling again and Hermana Michael began to ask me if I thought we should go back and talk to him, and before she could finish I basically interrupted her by saying, "YES!" So we turn around again and I felt a little bad because we parked pretty close to him then proceeded to get out and talk to him. We explained how we are missionaries and how we felt it was important for us to turn around and talk to him and asked him for his thoughts. He said, "I think that's a sign from God." He said that he's been going through a lot of hardship right now and we shared our testimonies with him. He said he's been pleading with God to help him and I know that Heavenly Father gave us that prompting to talk to him as an answer to his prayers. 

President had me share another last minute message at church yesterday during sacrament meeting. He came and spoke to our ward which was awesome! He invited me to come up in the middle of his talk to share a quick experience from when we brought a member to a lesson with us. I think my on the spot spanish wasn't too bad! I'm definitely getting better. We had a few pretty great member presents this week. The members in this ward are amazing! They're always so willing to help and their desire to serve really touches my heart. So far in my mission I've definitely realized that this work is pretty impossible without the help of members. They bring the love of the ward into the members home and their support helps the investigator feel more comfortable. When members are there it helps show how special the gospel is to us and how much we want to share it because we know that it is something that can bless their lives more than anything else. I spent the last two hours of church with the primary again, playing piano for them. It's always a good time with the primary! 

On Friday we got to our first appointment pretty early because Hermana Michael forgot how time worked so we knocked some doors in the meantime. When we knock complexes we look at the mailboxes first to find Hispanic families to leave all the English speakers for the English missionaries in that area. While I was looking at one of the mailboxes I saw a post it that said "Sister Kershaw and Sister Geracitano." They're so awesome! So we buzzed their apartment and Sister Geracitano answered and laughed. I can't believe we found their apartment while we were knocking! Sister Geracitano is from Australia and President asked her to get a drivers license. She said she had just gotten back from taking the test and she passed! She also mentioned how during the test was her first time ever driving on an American road! She told us, "can you believe I passed? Now that was God!" Haha

Saturday was the ward Halloween party at church! Our ward went all out with their costumes it was awesome and hilarious! A lot of them were even in character too haha! We helped decorate a little and got to hang out with the members so it was a lot of fun! I'll definitely share some pictures from that.

Well I hope everyone is fantastic! I love you all and hope to hear from you soon!

Keep smiling!

Hermana Knowles

All the hermanas at the new missionary training meeting.

One of the members made us breakfast.

Halloween party!

Our bishop and his wife, they're so funny!

Monday, October 20, 2014

La Vida en Chicago

Hola familia y amigos!

So it's starting to get cold here and so far so good! I'm going to get some more warm clothes today. Apparently there are a lot of cool places to go thrift shopping in Chicago! So that'll be fun. I had a pretty good week! We've definitely been working hard.

I had my very first zone meeting on Wednesday and I really enjoyed it! President Woodbury focused a lot on prayer and how we can make it more meaningful. I really love how prayer is explained in the Bible Dictionary. I love how it says, "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part." God is our Father and He wants each of His children to pour out their hearts to Him in prayer each day! He cares about all the little things we care about and loves us so much. Another one of my favorite parts from the Bible Dictionary is this, "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." Prayer is an act of faith and as we strive to listen to the Spirit as we pray we can receive greater understanding and strengthen our relationship with our Father in Heaven. I really like how President worded it, "God answers acts of faith with revelation." 

This week a couple of our investigators told us about recent struggles they've been going through.  It was really hard hearing the things they're going through, and I even cried with one of our investigators as she was explaining things, but I was comforted in knowing that the message we share with them can help them overcome their challenges and strengthen their faith. One of our investigators is trying to overcome her addiction to smoking and she said we've been helping her a lot. To start she gave each of us one of her cigarettes and we wrote the date on them so we could look back at the day she acted to make a change. We bore our testimonies mainly on the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

We got a new investigator this week! Our first lesson with her went really well and we're excited to keep working with her!

Church was pretty fun yesterday. Sacrament meeting was really nice. An Hermana that just got home from her mission in Uruguay spoke and it was awesome! Afterwards I spent the rest of church with the primary kids to play piano for them. That was so fun! The primary program isn't until the end of November so they most certainly like getting ahead of the game! I feel like I've gotten much better at piano on my mission. It's the best! I'm still teaching the younger kids on Saturday mornings and I get to play for sacrament meeting sometimes too.

Hermana Stout, my companion from the CCM, wasn't feeling super well the other day so to help her and her companion with their appointments we went on splits. So Hermana Michael went to their appointments with Hermana Trujillo and Hermana Stout and I got to be companions again for a little while! That brought back some fun memories from Mexico. It was nice hanging out with her again.

Well all is well here in the beautiful land of Chicago! Oh! We went out with two other companionships of hermanas for pday to get some clothes and while we were on a bus this guy asked, "well what do we have here a gaggle of scholars?" We asked him what a gaggle was and he said "I don't know I think geese are a gaggle." We proceeded by saying, "Well you've got yourself a gaggle of mormon missionaries!" Then he said, "Well this is my stop!" Yeah Chicago is most certainly a beautiful place. 

I love you all! Keep smiling my beautiful friends and family!

Hermana Knowles :) 

This sign is a strong supporter of the word of wisdom!

And one of the boys who got sealed to his family last Saturday!
And a members son who loves selfies.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Esta Semana Fue SUPER Bien

Another pretty superb week here in the mish! 

On Wednesday all of the missionaries had the awesome opportunity to watch Meet the Mormons at each of their church buildings. I never thought I'd get to watch a movie on my mission but I'm most certainly thankful we got to see this one! I absolutely LOVED it! It was so simple and beautiful and real! I also liked how it never tried to force our beliefs on the audience but it just portrayed the genuine happiness of these 6 families through their faith in Jesus Christ. 

We had exchanges this week! Hermana Michael went to Logan Square with Hermana Izu and I stayed in our area with Hermana Hammond! Hermana Hammond is so great we definitely had a fun time on Friday. We had a couple appointments and they both went really well! We made an effort to have a kneeling prayer with everyone after each lesson and it's been quite a beautiful experience. It's definitely something that brings everyone together and invites the spirit. I made some arepas for Hermana Hammond and showed her how to do it. That was way fun! Since I made lunch she decided to cook some eggs for dinner and well... you'll see how delightful those bad boys turned out in the picture! We just threw them in a tortilla and it worked out haha. They were delicious I promise! 

On Saturday I got to go to the Chicago Temple! SUCH an amazing experience! We went because there was a family getting sealed that Hermana Michael used to visit in her old area. It was so beautiful to meet that family and to see them be sealed together. Every time I go to the temple my testimony is strengthened and I feel so close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. There's no doubt that the temple is the House of God and I encourage all those who can to go to the temple as often as possible! Make it a priority because the temple can bless our lives and our families in so many ways. 

After we got home from the temple our landlords asked if we could do some service for them by working in our apartment. Sharon is such a gem! While I was touching up one of the doors in our apartment she came up to me and asked how "service points" work. Like if she needed to sign a paper to let President know we were actually doing service haha. I explained to her that we just genuinely love serving others and that all she needed to do was tell us how we could help her. I don't think she expected an answer like that, but she thought it was really cool that the reason we do this is to simply offer our help to others and make them happy; to serve the children of God. (Mosiah 2:17!)

Our investigators are doing pretty well! I really love meeting with them and seeing them progress. We just really need to get them to church so please pray for them! They're so great I love them. 

Well I love you all so much and can't thank you enough for your prayers and support. Keep smiling! 

Hermana Knowles
Elder Dominguez singing happy birthday to himself

Venezuelan cachitos!

el templo

Some street names for Tasha and Tami.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet

Ok so... CONFERENCE! Wasn't it amazing? If anyone didn't watch it I most certainly recommend you do that ASAP! There's no doubt in my mind that the leaders of the church have been called of God. Their messages are so precious and I know that as we follow their counsel we will find so much happiness and be able to strengthen our testimonies. The scripture on my missionary plaque was recited like 3 times! Can you say important? Helaman 5:12! We must always look to our Savior and put our trust in Him. He will always take care of us and comfort us. As we face steadfastly towards the Savior we will be able to overcome the trials and temptations in our lives and find peace, guidance, and understanding. Also I may or may not have flipped out a little when Uchtdorf began his message talking about astronomy. That made me so happy! 

Saturday morning was a little crazy. There's this man that another companionship of Hermanas were teaching who got baptized on Saturday in between the sessions of conference! But before he was able to be baptized he needed to get married to the lady he's been living with so there was a wedding in the morning before conference! Then in between the sessions he was baptized. You could say it was a crazy day. Hermana Stout and I decorated the relief society room for the wedding and we were pretty impressed with ourselves. Haha. 

Another miracle! When we got to the chapel on Sunday for conference there was a girl there who we were talking to and she said she hadn't been to church in about six years and just felt like she needed to come back because something was missing in her life. So she just drove herself to conference that morning! How cool is that? We set a time to meet with her and get to know her a little better so I'm definitely excited about that. 

We had our first district meeting of the transfer on Wednesday with the two new members of our district! They're way awesome. Elder Yeates and Hermana Mansfield. We also found out that the missionaries are going to be able to watch Meet the Mormons! I'm way stoked about that! EVERYONE SHOULD GO SEE IT if it's playing in a theater near you. I'm sure it's awesome. I'm going to watch it this week after district meeting! 

I'm quickly realizing the impact my musical background is having on my missionary experience. Not only am I now teaching four kids piano, one of our investigators, a young girl we're teaching, asked me if I would show her how to play a few things on guitar and I was so excited about that! Now we get to share the gospel and our talents when we visit them! What more could I possibly ask for? I absolutely love visiting this family and I'm so thankful we have the opportunity to teach them. The mom prayed for the first time with us the other day and it was amazing! Usually the daughter would pray and her mom would say she'd do it another time, but she finally prayed! Such a blessing! We have another investigator who is also progressing really well. It's amazing as we continue to recognize the various ways the Lord has prepared her to receive our message. Hermana Michael and I have been really blessed in seeing a lot of miracles.

So we went to the mission home to drop off some supplies that the other Hermanas borrowed from the Woodburys for a wedding the other day. We were just expecting to drop them off and be on our way but that most certainly didn't happen! The Woodburys invited us in and we all had dinner together and I even got on the piano and played a few hymns for everyone. That was so unexpected and a little awkward but it was definitely fun. During dinner President shared with us a story from when he was in college and it was absolutely hilarious! So there was a parade and he and his friend thought it would be funny to dress up as clowns and just join in the parade without asking for permission from anyone actually in the parade. How funny is that?! Everyone thought they were apart of the parade and thought they were so funny, but they legitimately just dressed up and acted like clowns in the parade for fun. Such a good idea haha

Quick shout out to the SBCs! I noticed Elder Oaks said forgo at least twice in his talk. That is all. I love you guys! 

Today our landlords are taking us to the museums! I'm stoked! Our landlords are so adorable and they've been looking forward to this for a while and so have we! We got up around 5:45 this morning so we would still be able to have a couple hours of study before we head out because they want to leave at 8:15. I'm so excited to see the museums I hear they're awesome! 

Well I hope everyone is doing so great! I love you all so much and I look forward to hearing from you! 

The church is true, the book is blue.
Keep smiling my beautiful friends and family!

Hermana Knowles

These black eye peas are probably the closest things I'll get to modern day music haha