Monday, July 21, 2014

Moooooooovin' along in Maryville

Say hello to Sister Steiner's newest companion - Sister Jones!! 

Aren't they just cute!??

Kristen moved to Maryville Tennessee a few weeks ago, and she is loving it! She and S. Jones are just tearing it up! They are in a big ward with a couple of sets of Elders and a whole ton of work to do! Here are a couple of fun experiences from her letter this week. 

All our appointments cancelled so we did some good old fashioned knocking. We ran into "C". He just got out of prison after 23 years. He was involved in a shooting and put away 23 years ago for it. He was completely covered in tattoos up to his ears, and had a big pitbull that I thought was gonna eat my leg off (thankfully he put her inside since we were all standing outside).

He is moving to Oregon to turn his life around but for the moment his job is a church bouncer. If any drug addicts or gang people or what not come into the church and create problems, he is there to take care of it. Oh, did I mention he goes to the biker church?! Yup! Welcome to the South! 

He could tell that we had "the spirit with some degree" and was impressed that two young ladies, like ourselves, would approach such a scary looking guy, like himself. Apparently the Jdubs ran the other way when they saw the pit a few weeks ago. He also informed us that he would give a good report about us.....he wasn't gonna call up our church, but he would tell his pastor and let him know the Mormon girls were  was quite the experience, haha. 

We then met Bro. Saniger (our ward mission leader) at Chick-fil-a to correlate for the week since he was our dinner appointment (two birds with one stone). 

Well, they had the Chick-fil-a cow mascot walking around the restaurant and he loved us! He sat in on most of our correlation meeting-haha. He would make it around the restaurant then come back and sit with us. (I uploaded a pic with Bro. Saniger and the cow). 

Well, I think the cow finally figured out who we were or what we were doing because all of the sudden he holds out his hands (hooves....pardon me) and we ask, 

"Do you want a hug?" 

And he shakes his head no......finally Sis Jones asks, 

"Do you want to pray with us??????" 

Yup that was what he wanted. So right there in the middle of Chick-fil-a we held hands and said a prayer with a COW! Only in the South I tell you.......only in the South! On the plus side of serving in the South, no one looks at you sideways when you pray in public because everyone prays down here.....Oh the South....its a special place.

Kristen would love to hear from any or all of you - drop her an email or a letter. If you'd like her apartment address just let me know, or send it straight to the mission home. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bringin' it in Brevard!

 Like her brother's blog, Mom is not keeping up very well - but here we go with some stories and pictures from the past few months.

A little background on Brevard, N.C. It is one of the top 10 retirement communities in the country (according to Kristen) so there are very few children and LOTS of retirement homes and assisted living centers, so a lot of her time is spent with older people.

Sadly, the racism of the south is far from gone - she told me briefly about a recent African-American convert who, after his baptism, was receiving phone calls and messages almost daily telling him he was not welcome in the church and that he should leave, along with various names and slurs. She said this good Brother, while hurt was holding up well and still attending church. Kristen, true to form, would like to "flick people in the nose" for being so cruel because this is not what being Christian is about.

S. Steiner and S. Paxton - gettin' their duck face on!
 "J - so she lives in the brain center which is a rehab/alzhiemers place. K, who is a member, lives there and referred us so we went to see J. luckily she is all there mentally and is in there for rehab.
 Funny story. We started teaching restoration, which she loves by the way, and we get to Joseph Smith and she tells us some Jehovah's Witnesses taught her about him 20 years ago. We both looked at each other in panic but then she started talking about how they helped her quit smoking and started describing the program. It was our quit smoking program. ONLY set apart, full time missionaries can teach it! She didnt meet with JW she met with Elders 20 yrs ago and did everything but get baptized, so we committed her for May 25th!  She even talks like a Mormon, it is awesome! She is 70 and so cute. actually the brain center is really fun. We are there all the time, so we walk in and we know all these cute old people in their wheel chairs."

As a side note, this isn't the first time the Sisters have run into the identity crisis of Mormons vs. Jehovah Witnesses - one of their other investigators thought they were JW as well! See the next story - 

"Sis P - she is an old lady that we teach. she had a stroke so she has a walker since one of her legs doesnt really work. She is a tough old woman. She threatens to kill people all the time ha. She is like backwoods mountain woman. Well we were talking with her, we see her 3x a week and read with her out of the bofm, and she informs us that her son is ok with her being a jehovah's witness! WHAT?! Oh man Sis Paxton and I both just sat there and stared at each other. Somehow we got in there that we are LDS and we have decided each lesson we are slipping in our title to make sure she knows we are not JW. 
No wonder her family hates us.....every time her family is around we get the stink eye and they dont talk much to us. We get mistaken for JW all the time, which is pretty funny.  You would think people would know how to read.....we even have a name tag that says LDS but we are in the south, so.......yeah haha so funny.
Sis P - also told us a story of how she shot a black bear! we were talking about hunting cuz she use to do that and was telling us all about the deer she shot and squirrels then she just casually went into shooting a bear! we freaked! that is so awesome! she is literally the ultimate, mountain, back woods southern woman! love her!"

"C - also close! he has been with out cigarettes for 2 weeks and only has dip left to give up. due to his medical issues he has to spend all day every day in the hospital this week for testing so he can have NO tobacco of any kind....coincidence? I THINK NOT!"

I think the other thing Kristen has found with some of these folks in Brevard is the craft aspect. She talks about ladies who do canning and quilting and do beautiful handwork in various mediums and she loves seeing and learning from them.

"S - she is an older lady that goes to brevard community church (like literally everyone else here). She wont let us share scriptures or religion, but loves our visits and lets us leave a prayer. well she is super sweet. she LOVES to quilt and she found this big quilt squares half done that she gave to me.....she says if she finds anymore she will give them to me cuz she cant quilt too much anymore. She spends all her energy on canning. She got a canning order for 50 cases....the woman is insane, but she is super sweet!"

As you can read - lots and lots going on for Kristen! I know she'd love to hear from you, drop her a note or an email!

Monday, February 17, 2014


Here are excerpts from Kristen's latest letter - I've been told by some friends who live close that the emphasis goes on the END of the city name, let's make sure we all say it correctly :)

I am actually in Brevard, North Carolina 

It is a freakin sweet town mom! GUESS WHAT?!?!?!?!?! THERE IS MUSIC HERE! They have a music festival in July. Like 1000s of applications and only 400 picked its a big deal. I live in Transylvania county (ha thought you'd like that one) um and this area is on fire! like literally burning........we had 10 INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH YESTERDAY.  They average 35 lessons a week.....that is double what we were doing in Ringgold.  they have 5 with dates, there was a baptism yesterday, they have lots of less actives and there is 13 progressing inv....I have NEVER seen numbers like that is unreal. Brevard is one of those areas leading the mission right now. I am so excited and overwhelmed at the same time. the cool part is that i am in a branch........YAY! i really wanted to serve in a branch cuz they just focus the missionary work in. 

So my new comp is sis Paxton. we are super similar which is great.....only downside i can see so far is we both have a more dominating personality, but once I get to know people and the area, hopefully that will work to our benefit. 

 She is super cute and ridiculously talented. She is from Bountiful. She is amazing at the piano.....we want to try and find a cello to do duets and I might just start singing so we can do musical numbers cuz President Van likes a lot of musical numbers! She is great though!

So here is this crazy weeks story. We were suppose to transfer Weds, well we get a call Tues morning that I need to pack cuz we have to meet at the church at 2:30....yeah it was 11:30 and we were at an appt and I wasn't packed and I had stuff in the we sped...literally like 20 mph over haha, home and I packed like  crazy....but I did it all in two hours! 

Transfer Meeting
Then me and 2 other sisters rode down with Bishop Hunt (I still call him bishop ha) to Knoxville cuz they were trying to beat the storm. We sat around for a couple hours while they figured out what to do with all us random missionaries then I went with the Pellissippi sisters for the night.  Luckily they were white washing an area and had an empty apt so they put us 5 random sisters in there for the night.

Weds at the mission home for breakfast and literally just sat at the church for 3 hours while we waited for the mgt......I HATE sitting as a missionary, it is the worst. Finally we had the mgt but since the highway was closed to get to NC they stuck me with the Pellissippi sisters for a couple days.
On the road to North Carolina

 Wasnt the best, but at least i wasnt sitting.  They actually have them and the Hardin valley sisters living in a condo so they stuck me and one other sister in there so there were 6 in this condo. it fit us all nicely and we had a partial snow day cuz of all the snow so we sat inside and they weekly planned, etc 

So Friday came and Pres loaded us into the van and drove us down to North Carolina.  I met sis Paxton and we dropped my stuff off and we went out and met loads of people. it was great! like i said the area down here is awesome! they are also known for the waterfalls and white squirrels.....I have seen a couple and they literally are the coolest thing ever.

 Sis Paxton said this was rural, which it is, but Rinngoold was far more rural. We do have a church building though and there are lots of older people down here, but it is so fun!   i've really enjoyed it already and cant wait to get to know more people.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Myth of the Golden Investigator...busted!

Christmas day at the Stracke's
By way of news from Ringgold - Kristen and Shannon have escaped the dreaded transfer one more time! However, they are headed to the mission home this week to pick up a third sister to add to their dynamic duo! They are both excited to be staying in the area as their work is finally paying off in a tangible way - they have a baptism up and coming!! Here is the story of the Myth of the Golden Investigator. 

"J" is freaking getting baptized and I cant even stand it! she is SOOOOOO prepared. 
Do you think these two have spent some time together??

So we taught law of chastity, a terrifying lesson for a couple that is living together and not planning on getting married. 

Well, we walk in and ask them how their Christmas was and before we even sit down "J" screams, "WE ARE ENGAGED!!" THEY ARE ENGAGED AND WE WERE TEACHING THE LAW OF CHASTITY THAT NIGHT! Holy chicken batman!

Well, we gave the lesson and it went really well. We asked if they would live it and they said they would get back to us on that one. We came over two days later and "J" says,

"We are going to be chaste, but "C" is not moving out." 

Looks like the baby brother managed to send the north, south.
We both look at each other and then she says, 

"BUT we have decided to get legally married before the 18th so i can still get baptized because I have prayed about it and I am suppose to be baptized on the 18th!"

I literally almost peed my pants! I couldn't believe it! They came to church yesterday and loved it.

I think "Santa" made it to the Sisters apartment
Then we taught word of wisdom, another concern, because they both smoke and drink coffee, but they said at the new year they are quitting. Thanks to the help of the Lord, because "J" has been praying, she has already gone from 2 packs a day to half a pack.....WHAT?!?!?! GOSH the Lord is soooo cool! She is a little worried about the coffee but says they are gonna throw it all out and give it up to the Lord and she will be baptized, gosh darn it!

You hear stories about the golden investigator, but we really thought they were a myth but by golly, they exist!

Now, I know as well as many of you reading this that there are going to be things thwarting these Sister missionaries and their investigator as she gets closer to her baptism date.  Please send your prayers and love their way, especially for this sister and her family as they take this great step. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sharing the "Book of Normen"

Kristen has been doing well, working hard with the members in and around Ringgold. She has truly come to love them! Here is a little experience with one of the young members in Ringgold and some pictures from the seminary teacher in Chattanooga and the Brainerd Ward Christmas party!

....they have a 9-yr old named "A". She and this friend at school read books together. They just finished a chapter book and it was "A"'s turn to pick the book for them to read together so she picked the Book of Mormon. 
So apparently her little friend text her the night before school and said,

"Dont forget to bring the Book of Normen tomorrow."

 SO CUTE! We died of cuteness when her Mom texted that to us.

 Sadly we asked "A" how it went yesterday at church and she said it was good, until her friend showed her grandma what book they were reading and her grandma took it from her and said she couldn't read it. "A" looked a little heart broken, but we told her she planted a seed and helped share the gospel and that is so awesome! She does more than I know most adults do!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ringgold...Ringgold....Ringgold on my mind...

If you are following both of my kid's missions you know that I'm not doing well in keeping up blogs right here are some excerpts of Kristen's last several emails along with pictures. She is doing great in Georgia! For those of you who are familiar with Kristen's writing know that she is usually typing on the fly and her spelling and punctuation go by the wayside - Lol! 

Kristen and Sis. Harper stuck in a park during a downpour
 From October 7

We are focusing  on PMG chp 6 - christ like attributes and it was awesome! we focused on all the attributes and have been challenged to pick one a week to work on this first choice = patience. If you have some time....maybe pick one to work on this week or even for the month....just flip open to chp 6 and read a few and maybe have you and dad pick one...its really cool! 

Ok now for transfer news.....i AM NOT LEAVING!!!!!!!!! Sister harper and i are staying put in little ringgold which means i get to "kill" her! So excited BUT beyond that.....we are co-training a 3rd sister! We will go pick her up in farragut on wednesday and we will be a trio for 6 weeks til sis harper goes home! Oh man it is gonna be awesome! 3 of the 4 sister companionships in our zone will be in trios....missionary work is exploding and it is unreal.

 The work is still really slow and we cant contact anyone. it is just visits and member work. in reality i feel like a glorified visiting teacher, but i enjoy it all the same. Our less actives are just the sunshine to the day. Cristy and angela are really coming along and they are just so strong and trying their hardest. The best story i can tell you this week i just feeling the love of christ for those we teach and visit...its almost overwhelming. It is so strong and as i love them, i can feel his love for them. It is the most unreal thing i really cant describe.  

Caving with the zone
After caving

 From Sept 30th

we got k and a moved in.  We called half the ward and were really worried no one was gonna help move them cuz we got no for sures but we had like a dozen priesthood holders and two trucks so we got all the big stuff moved and quite a few boxes in 2 HOURS! oh my heck it was awesome. Even the new bishop came and helped. A told me she couldnt believe how many people showed up to help and you could tell K was amazed and truly grateful.  They are having a hard time adjusting going from a house to an apt but they are doing well.  It will really help them get back on their feet.  Their girls are also doing good.  they are both in soccer right now and LOVE it! they are just my favorite. We are always greeted with huge hugs every time we see them. As we taught last sunday they curled up between us and snuggled under their blankets as we taught. they are always wanting us to read scriptures and they sang us primary songs too! They are talking about the temple in class and they told us all about what they learned about it in primary....oh it is so awesome! 

From September 23

we did loads of service this week. we had a huge zone service project that took all day tuesday. his backyard would be your dream yard. he had this huge pond with this stream and founatin that was like 5 times as long as our little fountain into the was awesome. we did all weeding and it looked great AND more weeding. it is funny the very thing i hate is the very thing we do the most of ha. 

Georgia PEACHES!!!!!
Little bit of a run in with the poison ivy...or was this poison oak....hmmm
 um, oh i tried frog legs on sat! they taste like chicken but not as much taste. actually it is like a cross between fish and chicken.  pretty good they just needed more seasoning. i love trying these new crazy things down here. oh and poison ivy.....IHATE THIS STUFF! luckily i caught it soon enough so it wasnt HORRIBLE but it is still bad.....

Kristen with Bishop and Sis. Hunt

The last couple of things - Our former Bishop and his wife are serving in Kristen's mission, I received a picture from Elder and Sister Hunt last week with note letting me know that Kristen was doing great.

A day later Donna, who lives a couple of doors down from Kristen, sent me an email with a picture of her, Sister Harper and their new companion - Sister Messer from California.

Drop Kristen an email or send snail mail to her mission home address! I'm sure she'd love to hear from you!

Monday, August 5, 2013

No car....90% humidity...2.5 hour find....

I haven't posted anything from Kristen the past couple of weeks, because, to be honest, she's been pretty down and discouraged. This little town is spread out, hot, sticky, and the members haven't been very helpful. To top it off, the car the previous sisters left them - well, they had wrecked it - so this past week it went to the shop, which meant they had to walk to all of their appointments.....

We had a dinner appointment on Thursday. Well the walk to her house was a 2.5 hour walk along hwy 41, so we started our trek.....yes we were probably being stupid, but we both felt we needed to go and no one could give us a ride so we went. Well, we are about 20 mins away from her house and we pass a trailer park and this man throwing away his garbage.  

We passed him and 30 seconds later I hear "miss, miss" I turn around and he is literally chasing us down. He asks if we are Mormon and we said yes and he tells us his wife is Mormon and she needs some we called our dinner appointment --She forgot she was feeding us!! Right then I knew we weren’t walking for our appointment we were walking to run into this man.  

Well he took us to his wife and we started talking. She is less active, partially due to the fact that she has every illness you can think of, but it was HIM asking us serious questions. He has taken the lessons and had a baptism date but doesn't like labels and organized religion. But we answered his questions and the spirit was strong and he told us that there will be more visits and he looked forward to us coming back.....HELLO! I knew there was a reason we didn’t have a car! 

Prayers have never been answered before like they are on a mission....every prayer and every fast answered....its cool.