Friday, February 11, 2011

The Airport!!

FINALLY we were at the airport waiting for her to arrive...
Mallorie, Maddi, Zack, and Kenzi

Sweet Keydi Gwynn surprised us at the airport to welcome Sister Denson and the other missionaries home. 

There they are!!!!!

Mom snagged the first hug!

Checking out the blue "Welcome Home Aunt Sammi" poster! 

Mom finally got to meet Sammi's MTC companion, Sister Gardner.

Chatting with Sister Gardner.

Completely exhausted after 15 hours of airports and plans but finally home!!

Looking GREAT!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011--WELCOME HOME!!

The "shrine" in the hallway at home!!

The COUNTDOWN is complete!!!!

We can't wait to see you!!

Signs on the corner as you get near the subdivision...

And at the bottom of the street...

Thirteen Florida Flamingos all in a row welcoming her home!!

The view back down the street. 

Well done thou good & faithful servant!

We're so ready to see you!!

February 9, 2011--Until We Meet Again!

(L-R) Front Row; Elder and Sister Hogge, President and Sister Hale
Second Row; Elders Barrington, Mendenhall, Sister Lealoagata, Elder
Kimani, Sister Gardner, Elder McLaughlin, Sister Denson, Elder Jones
Sister Low, Elder Cook, Sister Miller, Stairs; Elders Lowder, Alvarado
Scoville, Dube and Zubia - Our Finishers!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8, 2011--Coming Home...

Hey guys. Thanks for all your emails. They really touched my heart. Once again, crying in the library. Luckily it'll be the last time....

Here is a rough schedule for the next couple of days....
Noon--member take us out to lunch
Wings gift shop
finish up packing
5:00 Lakes take us out for dinner
6:30 Ward coorelation
8:00 Milka--best appointment I could ever end my last night as a full-time missionary with.

5:30 am Be at Plantation Chapel
6:00 leave for Temple
10:00 Endowment session
I don't know what else...
5:00 Dinner at the mission home

8:00 roughly, board plane
layover in Atlanta
1:09 Arrive in Salt Lake City, Utah

It's crazy to think that it's only day after tomorrow... I want each of you to know that I have put my heart and soul into being a missionary. It's the best decision I have made thus far in my life to serve here in South Florida. I wish you could understand the love I have for this part of the world and especially the people here. They will always have a special, special place in my heart. Almost each person I have met in the last 18 months has changed my life in one way or another. And I mean it. Every single one of them. Because I have served a mission I have had the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know exactly who I am and I will never doubt that again in my life. I love the basic gospel principles are true and that when we apply them to our lives we are HAPPY. Not just for a little while, but for forever. I have joy and peace in my heart. My cup is full and overflowing. I want each of you to also know that I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and without we are NOTHING. Don't take it for granted. If you do, you are only distancing yourself from Heavenly Father. We need to read it daily in order to maintain that beautiful, intimate relationship we can have with him. Just because I am coming home and the tag will be off I will still always be sharing the gospel. My study habits will not change, but they will adjust to my new schedule. I will not let my faith be doubted or waivered.

I love you all and I am truly excited to see you! Even if it was just 4 months ago that we were together. Know that we all represent Jesus Christ and that we need to "Be thou and example of the believers."

Love, Sister Denson

(She said she would explain the pictures when she gets home!)

Milka (a sweet investigator)

Sister Denson, Milka, and Sister Miller

Sister Smith (Young Women's President), Sister Gray (Relief Society President) and Sister Denson

Sister Barton (Primary President) and Sister Denson

Sister Denson and Sister Guzman

For their last district meeting, the Elders brought them ice cream cake to wish them luck. :)

The District!
Elder Barrett, Elder Hansen, Elder Lamb, Sister Miller & Sister Denson

Sister Denson and Sister Barros (back for a visit)

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011--February 2011 ALREADY?!?!?!?

I can't believe tomorrow is February. It's come way too fast. This week is going to be very bittersweet. I would imagine it will be the same for you guys too. It's unfortunately been a slow week, teaching-wise, but at the same time way too fast. We've had miracles though.

Ramiel's baptism date has been pushed back to the 19th. He came to church yesterday, so he technically could be baptized, but we haven't taught him everything and he hasn't prayed to know if it is true. Please keep him in your prayers! He needs it right now. We have another investigator. Her name is Milka. I feel so honored to teach her. She is struggling right now to overcome her alcohol addiction. When we first met with her she refused to pray, but eventually did anyway. The second time the same thing happened. The third she was a completely different person. She was trying to find a place where she could register for AA, but had one bottle of rum left. She was planning on calling them after she finished the bottle. Obviously we discouraged it and testified to her. She has her agency though. That was Wednesday night. Saturday when I texted her to check up on her she let us know that she hadn't called the number yet, but that she had given the bottle of rum away!!!!!! How amazing is that! She has major trust issues, but has confided in us, mostly me because I've known her longer, but she let the spirit touch her as she prayed the other night. She's already asked if she could come visit me in Utah. I'm going to miss her so much!! She is progressing steadily!! And at her own free will. She is so great! Thank heavens for unlimited texting and other resources to stay in touch!

It's so amazing that even in the final weeks of serving we are still meeting people who significantly touch our lives. I know I have been sent to Coral Springs for a reason. I wasn't terribly excited to be here at the beginning of the transfer, to be honest, but I love it so much now! It was hard to come back to a family ward, but I have met the greatest people.
I love being a part of this work and never want it to end! I am truly converted to being a member of this Restored Gospel. I'm excited to apply the things I've learned in the steady upward trend that I've become a part of. Heavenly Father is always there for us. Even in the best of times, but mostly in the hardest of times. All we have to do is turn to him. Do our part. Willingly turn to His extended arms of mercy.

(I can't believe how emotional I am today. I definitely didn't expect this when we walked out the door this morning! haha)

I love you guys! You mean the world to me! I can't express the love and support I have been given and appreciated for the past 18 months.

Love, Sister Denson
President's email:
Hey President--
This has been an interesting week. Definitely a change from being with Sister Lealaogata. I miss her. Being with Sister Miller is challenging me. I love her, but our personalities are very different. You know that... I'm grateful though that this change has occurred because Heavenly Father is testing me until the end. I've asked him over and over to help me finish strong and with good experiences. I didn't expect a companion change, but understand why. I've prayed a lot. A lot, and of course he is blessing me so much as I continue to work and help progress this area. I love Coral Springs and I am SO grateful that I got to serve here. Some of the members have changed my life and outlook on things, even though I've only known some of them such a short amount of time. We have a specific investigator right now that I know I was supposed to meet and teach. It's so amazing the way Heavenly Father works. I know this last full week is going to be a bittersweet one. I'm excited for next phase in life, but it's going to be hard to leave this one behind. Except, I won't really be "leaving it behind." My mission has changed me and it has helped me set patterns to help me continue to progress for the rest of my life. I always want to be a part of that steady upward trend that you are always talking about. These have been the best 18 months of my life so far, but I'm not at my peak of progression, I'm just getting started!

I truly hope you know what an influence you have been in my life. Remember, I'm just around the corner. You and Sister Hale will all be a part of my life forever and of course into the eternities. I'm excited to see you Sunday for my interview.

With all my love, Sister Denson

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011--New Companionship

Crazy story: Saturday night (10:00pm) we got a phone call that Sister L was being transferred and that she was going back Spanish speaking. Weird.... Very unexpected.... President said that another sister was going home due to medical reasons. He said Sister L needed to have her bags at the chapel with her Sunday morning at Stake Conference. Stake Conference was great! We had M. Keith Giddens of the Seventy come speak. We've had SO many general authorities lately, it's Insane!! We're SO blessed!! But after conference Sister L went up to West Palm Beach with Sister Hebdon and I went back to our apartment with Sister Nielson. About 6:00 last night Elder and Sister Hogge brought me my new official companion, Sister Miller, and we were in a trio for the remainder of the night. They came again this morning to get Sister Nielson to take her to the airport. Keep her in your prayers. The doctors don't know exactly what it is wrong. It was so weird. She is the second sister I have sent off to go home unexpectedly (Sister Christensen being the first). And she is the 5th sister to go home unexpectedly. I was the first. What a horrible trend I've started!!! I feel so bad for all of them! Lol But I came back!!! They should follow that trend too!!!!! Sister Nielson will be back for sure though.

We had a great week though! One of our investigators, Milka, texted us late Thursday night saying that she wanted to come to church! It was so fun! We were so excited! She told us that she couldn't come a couple days before that. We figured that was going to be our biggest struggle with her--getting her to church--because she works every Sunday morning. Well....she loved church so much that she said she's coming next week too!!! It made me so happy! I love her so much! She's 25, Haitian and is a punk. Lol She's funny though. I love her. This week when we see her we told her we would bring her a treat. Of course she doesn't eat just an American treat...she wants a Haitian treat. We have to go to a Haitian restaurant and get her something. Lol THAT will be an experience! I've never done that before. It sounds worth it though. Greasy pork with smashed and fried plantains with rice. Mmm...

Ramiel is still set for the 5th, but we have A LOT to teach him still. He's buffed us on our last 2 appointments and he's only been to church once.

We've been teaching a girl, Ashley, 11, since I got here. Her mom is a JW and her dad is LDS. Don't ask me how that works.... But her dad wants her to be taught. Her mom is really supportive of it, surprisingly. Last night I taught her with Sister Nielson and it was the most amazing/spiritual/successful lesson I have had with her. Sister Nielson rocks! She was so good with her! I love Ashley. She is very knowledgeable about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she truly wants to know if our church is true or if her moms is. She's great. She says the most amazing prayers. Last night she prayed for Sister L and Sister Crane and all the missionaries all over the world. She's 11!!! Most of our members don't even pray for the missionaries all over the world!! It was so awesome!! Little things like that just fill my heart with SO much joy!!! I love this work and I LOVE sharing the gospel!! Yesterday at stake conference President Current said, "It's a privilege to share the gospel." Strangely enough I had never thought of that. It really hit me yesterday. What a privilege and honor it is to teach people that we have a loving Heavenly Father and about our Savior and what he has done for us. I love it!!!!!

I'll get your souvenirs the last p-day (new month, new miles).

I'm excited to see Mal's baby bump! I always want to ask for pictures, but at the same time I don't ask for them because I want to see it in person first! Lol I love the updates that she sends me each week.

I hope you all have a great week! Stay warm! It's cold here again FYI.... I wore my boots and tights again yesterday.

Love you all!!

Love, Sister Denson
President's Email:
Hey President-
What an unexpected call we got Saturday night. Lol of course I'm sad to let her go, but 1 I'm SO excited she gets to finish Spanish, and 2 I'll see her in 2 weeks. I'm down with that. Sister Miller is great so far. I've never served around her and really know nothing about her. It's going to be a fun 2ish weeks. Weird. Two weeks? I'm so grateful for these last few weeks. Its been fun to be with Sister L because we're both just wanting to work hard and finish strong. I'm excited to be with Sister Miller because she is the same way. She's on fire and loves talking to everyone. It's going to help me a lot.

I feel like I should be nervous about taking over the area--because I've only been here 3ish weeks, but I'm not. I've recently gotten to know A LOT of the members and I seriously love this area. We're going to have a lot of fun. I'm excited!

Stake Conference was so awesome yesterday! I learned something from each talk that was given. I love the Pompano Beach Stake. It was so fun to see so many members from the Boca Raton ward and the Boynton Beach ward. It made me happy to see those whom I love so much one last time. Bittersweet.

I love you President Hale! You are SO great! I hope you know how much I love you and how much us missionaries in general love you!

With love, Sister Denson
Last week, Sammi talked Sister Lealaogata into getting her ears pierced. Today, she sent pictures as proof it worked. Such peer pressure! :)

Sister L signing her life away. :)

From Sammi's email: "She's "so happy" to be pierced! Haha Look at her death grip on the chair."

"Piercing in action!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21, 2011--from the Mission blog

From the Mission blog:

"This round of personal priesthood interviews took (is taking) place in each of the individual missionary apartments throughout the mission. Sister Hale was (is) able to join President Hale for each of them. As always Sister Hale added her special touch by baking a small loaf of home-made bread for each missionary.

"Interviews now take place quarterly or on an 'as needed' basis with President Hale.

"President Hale says that there is nothing finer than visiting the missionary apartments and feeling of their own 'personal sacred groves.' It was and will continue to be a powerful experience."
Sister Hale, Sister Denson, and Sister Lealaogata

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 18, 2011--No email...just a few pictures

Happy Birthday Brother Hardy! (Ward Mission Leader)

Coral Springs Zone

Sister Denson!

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011--Fun Surprise Yesterday!

Saturday night we got a text from President Lake, "Can you sisters be sure to be at the Coral Springs chapel tomorrow at 11:00?" Uh, duh we can! It's our chapel, and we start church at 11:30, and if it means we get to see President Lake then OF COURSE! We just figured he had some meeting or something at the chapel and wanted to say hi to us. Wrong! I saw their truck pull into the parking lot (I was in the foyer chatting), and was chatting with someone when I glanced to my right and saw President and Sister Lake walking up the hall. Yay! Sister Lake came too!! (If you didn't know--she's my favorite!) But then I did a double take because I recognized the couple that was walking up the hall behind them. Daren and Heather Checketts?? What on earth are they doing here? Coral Springs of all places.... It was such a fun surprise and it was fun to chat with all 4 of them. What a small world that they are here for a conference and that their friends that they came with know the Lakes!! That was SO kind of the Lakes to bring them down to us a Coral Springs. They got to attend the Boca Raton ward for Sacrament Meeting! Lucky!!!

This week has been fun! Of course it has, I'm with Sister L!! The work is slow right now, but we were able to set one of our investigators with a date. Remiel, 28, for Feb. 5th. Keep him in your prayers! We were able to set a lot of appointment for the coming week with a lot of new people! We're so excited for them! It's going to be a great week!

Sounds like you had a fun day yesterday in Idaho. I love Sister Crane. She's great. She is loved SO much here!! Lol all last week people were asking us if we were able to talk to her yet. OBVIOUSLY they don't know anything about missionary life.... haha

Thanks for the pictures.

I just need two things for this week. Lol

1. The Hot Chocolate cookie recipe. We had so many extra that we took some to the Buhlers and Sister Buhler LOVED them! She wants the recipe.

2. Mom, will you tell Brady Stephens about my homecoming? Just find him on Facebook. I've thought of him a lot this week, not sure why, but I'd love to see him when I get home... Tell him I said Hi. I don't have an address for him. Maybe you can get one from him...

Okay, I have 3 things.

3. I am buying some conditioner and leave-in cream today. I'm not buying a big conditioner, just a small one. It would weigh too much in my luggage for the trip home.

I hope you have a wonderful week! Don't let the paint fumes get to you too much!

Love, Sister Denson

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011--Ya'll are gonna flip!!

I love my new area and I love the weather and I love my companion!!! This is going to be such a great transfer! I couldn't have asked for a better "final" companion. It's most definitely weird to be back in a family ward and to have little kids running all around. And babies. Babies are everywhere and I want to actually hold one and I can't! No fair! I got quite used to the silent singles branch. Oh wait;) have I told you where I am yet? I'm in the Coral Springs ward with freakin' Hermana Lealaogata!!! Shut up. I know! What on earth is Heavenly Father thinking??? This will definitely be a great experience for us and for the last transfer for both of us. Hahaha I love her so much! I'm SO stoked for this transfer! The last few days have been GREAT!!! It's so fun to be with her since we have both grown so much since we were together last.

Sounds like Mom, Dad and Mal have had a great week! Haven't heard from the rest of you......wink wink

We haven't had much of an eventful week. Ya know, just preaching the greatest message ever! We got out on bike--the weather is BEAUTIFUL!

I really don't know what else to say.... I'm sorry!

I only have 2 pictures to send this time. One of us, our "new" companionship and one of our New Years sleepover. We're on the third floor, Hermana Lealaogata wanted to sleep on the balcony, it was too cold for me, we pulled out the hide-a-bed and put my mattress on top of that. Lol she's a nut.

Oh, just kidding. I have more pictures to send. I had to say goodbye to a lot of missionaries. It was the last time I'll see them until they get home or come to Utah... Didn't get as many pictures as I wanted to, but it's okay... Sister Zitting, Elder Steele, Sister May, Elder Ricks' family came back a couple of weeks ago. Lol they visited us at our apartment. He's the greatest. His family is adorable. Not the best of our companionship. Just took it this morning while headed out the door. No worries, there will be more....

I love you all! Have a great week! Have fun back at school and work!

Love, Sister Denson
Companions again!!
Sister Denson & Hermana Lealaogata

New Years' Eve "sleepover"

Elder Ricks' family visiting the mission

Sister May and Sister Denson

Sister Denson and Elder Steele

Sister Denson and Sister Zitting

President's Email:

Wednesday was such a GREAT day! It was so amazing to see that me and Hermana Lealaogata are back together! I'm so grateful and excited for this final transfer for both of us. I feel like I'm serving with one of my best friends. My eternal companion as Elder Zwick put it. That was such a powerful experience to hear from him and his sweet wife. It's definitely made me ponder and reflect a lot this week.

I'm excited to serve in the Coral Springs ward and most definitely with President Current. He is so amazing. I love serving with him.

This transfer is going to be the BEST! I'm excited to "be in the middle of my mission" and have the excitement for the work still. It was so great to see all of you yesterday.

Thank you so much for everything!

Love, Sister Denson