Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Contact Information

Here is Rachel's new contact information now that she is in D.C.

Sister Rachel Udall
Washington D.C. South Mission
5242 Lyngate Ct.
Burke, VA 22015-1631

Make sure her FIRST and LAST name are on the envelope.

Please use this address when writing letters or sending packages.  This is the mission office address.

Sending Packages:

When sending packages, please send by US POSTAL SERVICE 1st class or priority mail, not parcel post. The mission office can forward US Postal Service packages sent by 1st class or priority mail, but they have to hold all others (FedEx, UPS, DHL, and USPS parcel post, etc.) until they travel to the missionaries which may take up to 6 weeks.  This process should be followed even if Rachel puts an apartment address on letters to you.  By following this procedure, she will receive her mail within a few days and mail doesn't end up following them from apartment to apartment, or being held in the office.  Missionaries are transferred frequently, and sometimes on an emergency basis with no prior warning.

A few tips on mailing priority mail:

Priority mail has a flat rate envelope for $5.60.  The package doesn't have to necessarily be flat, just close.  I have done this a few times and it was a great, quick, relatively cheap way to let her know I was thinking about her.  Thanks Julene, my sister, for sharing this tip.

Priority mail also has a medium flat rate box ($12.35) and large flat rate box ($16.85).

You can also still use to send a letter or a dearelder package.  To send a letter, you will need to set up an account on dearelder and put money into the account.  I set up an account and there is a .75 cent transaction charge to put money into the account. The charge is .46 cents to send a letter. I don't think she receives the letter the same day like in the MTC but probably within a few days.

Lots of love,

Calling at Airport

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just call me The Rookie.  I didn't think to check my email last night! Learn from my mistake if you have a missionary at any level, especially a newbie...check your emails even if logic tells you not to.  I had no idea she would get a chance to write and update us before she left the MTC.  It is good to know there is some mercy when it comes to this communication issue a mother must endure.  I am classifying this as: "typical lack of communication with a missionary to further increase the faith and patience of a mother."  I  finally see the light...this is why missionary moms act a little psychotic and sit by the computer to check emails 40 times a day, there just might be an email.  

So, without seeing this email first, I anticipated her call between 4am and 3pm on Wednesday. I thought we would have an hour to talk (unrealistic expectation right there).  She called at 4am sharp and spoke for a few minutes then got disconnected.  She called again, and we chatted a few more minutes, then she spoke to David, and then to her very sleepy sisters who remember it all as a dream and back to me.  That is when I found out she only had 15 minutes to chat and the time was almost over.  In essence, I averaged 5 minutes (between the hello, how are you, disconnect, hello, asked a few questions, I love you and the goodbye) and everyone else 2 minutes. The jist of the conversation: she is excited and nervous for D.C.  She is traveling with 26 other missionaries going to D.C. and she loves and misses us.  Since when did fifteen minutes become the speed of light.  I missed that physics headline! It's a true fact in this situation.

Needless to say, reading this email first would have helped me strategize the phone call a little better! Hands down, it was wonderful to hear her voice for the precious few minutes we spoke. 

Thanks again for all your love and support! I know it is a tremendous strength to her.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hey Family!!

First off, THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER for all the letters and support!! It really brightens up my day to hear from everyone.  I am sorry I can't write everyone back all at once! If I had the time I totally would! But I will do it! It just might take a couple weeks.  You are always in my prayers and I am forever grateful for wonderful family and friends!!

So it is my "P-day" today, well sort of.  We get to do laundry and stuff before we leave tomorrow!  I hope you get this before tomorrow morning.  So my flight leaves at 6 am from SLC.  I just want to make sure that you know that I will be calling from 5 am Utah time, so 4 am your time! I know that is super early!!! Sorry! We do have a layover in the Dallas Airport, but since we have to make a connecting flight, I don't know if I would have time to call you then.  So it is probably safer to call in the morning.  So just be ready from 4 am on!!!  Here is a little update on what I have been doing...

These past 5 days have flown by! Wow! What a wonderful time I have had at the MTC! I love all of my teachers so much! They have made this experience wonderful.  I hope my last letter didn't seem to Debbie downer-ish!! It has been hard, of course, but with every trial comes sooooo many blessings!!!  The past couple days have been wonderful! My companion and I have seen ourselves grow in the past couple days.  We are really trying to teach with humility and invite the Spirit into our lessons.  I know that there is ALWAYS something to improve on, but I have realized that as long as I am doing my best and being obedient I can't go wrong.  

We are all done teaching our "investigators".  It was such a neat experience to teach lessons and practice.  The neatest part of it was that you can feel the Spirit and know what to say even when it isn't a real investigator.  The Spirit still helps prepare us and tell us what to say, even in role plays!!

Ok but the neatest experience yet!!! For the Sunday devotional, we had Elder Allen, a member of the Seventy, come and speak to us.  He got up and said that he had a talk prepared but  felt prompted to change topics because we were watching Sister Monson's funeral service after the devotional.  So he told us that he was just going to speak by the Spirit and speak to us about what we really needed to hear.  So the best part about this experience was that as he got up to speak, I said a little prayer to Heavenly Father asking Him to help me with a concern that I had been thinking about all day.  About 10 seconds after I finished my prayer, Elder Allen started telling us that he was going to speak by the Spirit and hoped that he would be guided to answer all of our questions/concerns/doubts!!! That was seriously an instantaneous answer to my prayer! WOW! And truly, everything that he said comforted me.  As he was speaking, he was very honest with us.  He kept saying, "Oh, I just had another thought" and then would tell us about it.  The most powerful part of the meeting was when he had us watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing, "Come, Come Ye Saints".  Then he had us sing it with them!!  As I listened to the words the first time, the lyrics "Tis better far for us to strive, our useless cares from us to drive" stuck out to me.  Yes, this mission will be hard, but so many more blessings will come (even salvation) because I really devoted ALL of myself to Heavenly Father's work! I just really want to be the best missionary that I can be!!  That experience was such a testimony builder of how the Spirit can touch each and every single one of our hearts!  And the Spirit KNOWS each and every one of us.  That is why when we rely on the Spirit, we can be an answer to someone's prayers.  

Some fun little things that have happened in the past 2 weeks:

The first few days of class, I was asked to say the prayer at least 3 or 4 times a day.  My district now says that I have a "praying face".  I don't know what that means, but I guess it can't be a bad thing, right? Needless to say, the last 2 days here I haven't said any prayers because I was asked so much in the beginning.  

My roommates and I sing ALL THE TIME!  It is so much fun!  All of us have pretty decent voices, and we love to try and harmonize! Sometimes it turns out, other times it doesn't.  We just laugh and have fun no matter what :)  We also made up lyrics to the cup song from Pitch Perfect about the Washington DC South mission while we were cleaning bathrooms for our service project.  
Yesterday we were walking to the cafeteria and an Elder said hi to us.  He kept walking and ran straight into a pole! Or so we thought.  We all freaked out, but he was just kidding! He hit his foot on the pole to make it vibrate.  Oh Elders! They keep the MTC happy and exciting!

I can't think of anything else right now, but it has all been so great!!  I am so grateful for laughter and optimism!!
Oh, Dad.  Don't worry about keeping my pen at the airport! I didn't have an extra on me, but I did ask the lady sitting next to me on the plane.  She was sweet enough to let me use it, and it was a good conversation starter.  We talked about where she was going..which was Rochester, NY and my mission.  I let her know that there were Church sites right by Rochester.   I felt like it was a good way to start off my mission, so thanks for keeping my pen! :)

Sorry this letter has been a little scatter-brained! I guess I am a little all over the place right now, trying to do laundry, pack, and get ready for DC!!!! It is really here!!! In a couple hours I will be out of the MTC and on a plane to DC!!  So the next time you hear from me I will be in DC!!! AHHHHH!!!!!


Sister Udall

Friday, May 24, 2013

Almost to D.C.

Rachel will fly to Washington, D.C. on May 29, 2013.  Her flight leaves around 6 am from Salt Lake City with a layover in Texas.  More details to come.

Thank you for all of the letters you have sent through regular mail and dearelder as well as the kindness, love and support you have shown to her.  I did not realize how much faith it would take to send Rachel on her mission and how this faith is to be exercised everyday she is gone.  Most of all, it helps strengthen her and us.

One week down and only 6 more days to go!


First off, I just want to let you all know how blessed and loved I feel from all of your letters and words of love and encouragement.  I love to hear how things are going back home and what wonderful times you are having! It brightens my day up. They have been tender mercies and answer to prayers.  So I just want to let you all know that you are amazing and inspired! 

Oh there is so much I could tell you but so little time! I LOVE my companion, Sister George!  The more we get to know each other the more alike we are!  She is from Wyoming, and is the sweetest and most caring person.  It has been fun to get to know her more and have a buddy that will be with you every step of the way in this crazy experience.  The other two sisters in my district, Sister Dalley and Sister Lore are so amazing!! We all have so much fun and laugh together! Laughter is the best medicine!  I don't know what I would do without these lovely sisters!  My district is awesome!  The Elders are all hilarious and fun to be with. It is so cool to see how being a servant of the Lord really changes you within a couple days!

We are in class all the time. Usually it's 7+ hours a day.  My teachers are all amazing and inspiring and they make me want to do my best to work hard!  We do lots of role plays and practice inviting our companions to commit to baptism, etc. It is so cool to see how those role plays are applicable.  It is so amazing to feel the Spirit testifying of the truthfulness of the messages we are saying. 

One quick story...Yesterday we did a role play focusing on listening to the Spirit to let us know what the missionary we were talking to really needs and what the Lord wants him to feel/know.  I was paired up with an Elder in my district.  As I asked him a question and was listening to him, I could just feel of the love that Heavenly Father had for him.  We had a couple minutes to prepare what we were going to say.  The 5 minutes went by and I didn't know what I was going to say. But as soon as I decided to just start speaking, words came out of my mouth that I hadn't ever imagined saying.  I just KNOW that because I put my complete faith and trust in the Lord, I was able to do his will.  It took a lot of work and diligence on my part, but I want to be able to do that all the time! It was such a blessing to know that it does happen, and it can happen all the time!

The MTC has been a wonderful experience so far, but it is definitely a place where you really learn to rely on the Lord and turn yourself over to HIS work.  For example, our first few lessons went well.  I mean, they went as well as a first lesson could. They don't really tell us much but just go in, get to know them, love them, show them that you love them, and then teach them what the Lord would teach them. In the first lessons with our investigators (which are our teachers, just role playing an investigator that they taught or knew really well) we just went for it.  Our teachers said that they could definitely feel our love for them.  But as we have been trying to help them receive their own personal revelation, it's a little more difficult. They feel that we care, but they don't feel the spirit testifying to them that it is true.  And that is the most important part! We want THEM to be converted and come unto Christ because THEY WANT TO! Not because we as missionaries or friends want them to.  Missionary work is all about humility and patience. As I have realized how much I don't know, I have been diligently trying to rely on the Lord for guidance as to what I should study for my investigators and what I should say during a lesson.  It's not my message, it's the Lord's. And I have learned this from lessons that have gone drastically wrong as well!! At first I was super frustrated with myself and discouraged, but of course that doesn't get you anywhere! So I decided to just work hard and rely on the Lord for guidance and assistance.  The MTC is like the refiner's fire.  I have so much to work on and what better way to start working on it then messing up and finding a better way to do it! I am also learning every single day that my expectations aren't the Lord's. These past few days I think I have been a little too hard on myself. Shocker, right? haha But I know that the Lord has confidence in ALL of his missionaries! So my goal for this week is PATIENCE with myself.

I know that this is where I am supposed to be! I am loving every moment, even the hard ones because it will help in the long run. I only have 6 more days left here in the MTC.  We leave Wednesday the 29th at 3 am for DC!! Can't wait to soak up all I can before I leave for the field! So exciting but also crazy to think that this wonderful experience will be over soon! I just have to work hard and dedicate this time to the Lord!!!!
Oh. Last thing!

 WE have been reading in the Book of Mormon as a group. Verse by verse and pausing whenever we have a thought or inspiration.  It has been simply amazing to see how the Book of Mormon applies to us all in any possible situation.  So I challenge you, my family, to read it as a family with the faith and an open mind to know that the Book of Mormon can and will answer your questions. So write down and question and see if it's answered by the end of the reading.  Just start from 1 Nephi, or wherever you feel like starting, and go for it!!  I know the Book of Mormon is such a blessing in our lives and will help us through anything!! So do it!!!! 

Love always!
Sister Udall

Monday, May 20, 2013

The First Letter

May 16, 2013 (received May 20, 2013)

My Dear Family,

    Oh my goodness it's only been a day and a half and I feel like I have been here for ages!  But don't worry, I am having an amazing experience!  The MTC has such a spirit about it! The only way that I can describe it is that every meeting/class period/etc, I just have this burning in my heart and a smile on my face.  The Lord is so mindful of me, and every one of us! I have already felt the spirit working through me and put thoughts into my heart and mind.  It's kind of crazy, but so exciting to see that the Lord trusts me enought to let me teach His daughters and sons.  I have learned that it's not me that is teaching, but the spirit.  This has nothing to do about me.  My mission is all about others for the next 18 months. No more Rachel, just Sister Udall! (: I have learned that missionary work is all about LOVING everyone that I come in contact with (companions, teachers, strangers, etc.).  It is about demonstrating/showing Christ's love for them so that they can feel it and come closer to him.  Missionary work is so amazing!  I am excited to learn so much.  There is definitely so much to learn!  My teachers are Brother Lester and Sister Pope.  Super awesome!  Our zone leaders are nice and funny.  We also have 2 sister teachers who are with the zone leaders who have helped us so much already.  They're the best.
     My companion is Sister George from Cody, Wyoming.  She is so sweet and nice.  I feel like we will have a lot in common and get along!  We got our assignment today - - it's something to do with computer training.  I will find out more tomorrow!
     Something cool that I learned is that your first convert is yourself.  So true!  I have already learned so much and grown in my love for this gospel.
     I know that this will take so much work, but with Heavenly Father's help I know I can do it.  He sustains the missionaries he calls.  I'm up for the challenge!
     I love you all and miss you lots but know this will be the best thing that has ever happened to me!  Keep up the school work!  Let me know everything!
                                                 Sister Udall

P.S. Tell everyone to dearelder me while I'm in the MTC.  It's just  That way I can get mail that same day.

Oh and funny story, I prayed 3 times today! I guess I needed the blessings!

Oh and I teach my first lesson TOMORROW!!

P.S.S. My Pday will be next Thursday so you can email me before then.  But I won't be able to see it 'til then.

The Send Off

May 15, 2013

A friend of mine shared the following poem with me which expresses my feelings well as we send Rachel on her mission.

Children are like balloons with a message inside
They start out small
And we inflate them with something of ourselves.
As we pour our lives into them-
They spread sunshine, give joy, brighten the days of grandmas and grandpas and cheer up the sick.

They remind us of being young and that life is fragile.
They celebrate living!
When discouraged, they are like a balloon that deflates.
A simple openness allows us to refill them with hope for the future, a feeling that they are special and the knowledge that God loves them.

Their enthusiasm is like a balloon carried on the wind with never ending energy.
They sway and drift.
It's then that they need our prayers and loving guidance, without too much pressure that would cause them to burst.

The time comes sprinkled with tears and joy, when others are able to read the message we have written on their hearts.

So we let go and let God have His way with our precious balloons...
Not the end...but truly the beginning.

And so it is, as Rachel begins this journey with never ending energy (as you can tell from the pictures) she needs our prayers and loving guidance.  So far, time has come with tears, patience and joy (the picture of Rachel in the MTC). Most  importantly those she comes in contact with will be able to read the message etched on her heart.  So, we have let go and will let God mold her more than He already has.  Although it seems like the end, I know deep down in my heart it truly is the beginning.

Keep this poem in mind as you view these pictures...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The night before leaving
Check-in at the airport
Emily and Rachel
Through tears and smiles, high five for D.C. and Jenny's AP test

One last hug from Dad
One last Melissa Hug

     After Rachel was through security, she looked at us one last time with a forever smile of love, an enduring wave of confidence which said, I am ready to conquer my mission. This image is embedded in our hearts forever as she walked away to the gate.

     Once she arrived at the Salt Lake City airport, her roommate, Hollie Vassar, and friend, Jen, picked her up and took her to lunch in Provo Canyon at Bridal Veil Falls.  My deepest gratitude to Hollie and Jen who took the time to give her lots of tender loving care before entering the Missionary Training Center at 2 pm.
Hollie, Rachel and Jen

Hollie and Rachel in Provo Canyon
Rachel and Jen, Provo Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls

Jen, Rachel and Hollie near the Provo LDS Temple. For those not familiar with this area, it is right across the street from the Missionary Training Center.

Rachel and Hollie

Many of Rachel's friends from BYU work at the MTC.  Her one friend, Marcela Martinez saw Rachel and took a picture of her an posted it on facebook.  When I saw this picture late Wednesday night, it brought me extreme comfort to know she is happy and well. A picture is worth 1,000 words.

Inside the walls of the MTC!
Rachel and Marcela Martinez

Thursday, May 9, 2013

5 days!!

That's all!! 5 days!

I am so excited to serve the Lord for 18 months in beautiful Northern Virginia/DC area!  I am just enjoying this time with my family and the last couple days in beautiful Southern California. I have been so blessed already and cannot wait to see what awaits me on my mission!


p.s.  My address has been updated so when I get to the MTC next week I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from all of you!