Contact information

18 months is a long time for any missionary to be away from friends and family. Sierra - and any other missionary in YOUR life - would love to hear from you from time to time. Letters, packages, or whatever else intended for Sierra may be sent to the Florida Jacksonville Mission office which will get the parcels safely into her hands

Sister Sierra Heller

Florida Jacksonville Mission

8663 Baypine Rd # 102

Jacksonville, FL 32256

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wednesday, March 2nd was a day filled with hugs, kisses, tears, laughs, and more hugs.  

It was a beautiful spring day in Utah with lots of sun and a warm gentle breeze.  Absolutely perfect weather! After a saying a lot of prayers over the past year, Sierra found herself at the doors of the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo, Utah.  At 12:45 PM Sierra began her 18 month LDS mission to Jacksonville Florida Mission.

Standing on the curb at the MTC about to begin a new adventure.

Over the prior few months, we've been trying to put Sierra together with what she's going to need in Florida;  clothing, shoes, suit cases (thanks G'ma!), scriptures, shoulder bag, etc.   We even needed to come up with a bike suitable for a missionary wearing a skirt.  The logistics of sending out a young adult are daunting.  Considering the LDS church sends its missionaries to virtually all corners of the earth, we had it easy compared to many families with her serving her mission right here in the USofA.

Departing from home.
Sierra gave her farewell talk at her YSA (Young Single Adult) ward in mid February.  After taking the time to prepare her talk, she was  shocked that it only took her 3 minutes to actually present it.  She was determined that her next talk at the family ward would be more substantive.  With lots of typing and lots of practicing, she managed to stretch it out to a full 15 minutes!  She was delighted at its length, the rest of us were delighted with its content.

This blogging thing is new to our family.  We're going to be going through a learning curve here, but it's our intent to share with you Sierra's mission.  She will be in the MTC for three weeks learning how to be a missionary for the LDS church.  Their daily schedule is a rigorous; filled with classes and study.  She will be in email contact with us once a week and we'll talk to her by phone before she departs for Florida from the Salt Lake International airport. 

While she is in the MTC, letters can be addressed to her at:
                               Sister Sierra Nikkol Heller
                               MAR22  FL-JAK
                               2005 N 900 E Unit  12
                               Provo UT 84602
For the duration of her mission, emails can be directed to:

Sierra's Farewell talk as given February 28th, 2016

 I just want to start off with saying that I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus loves each one of us individually, I hope you know that and feel it; I feel it and Heavenly Father’s love is infinitely greater than mine, so I can only imagine exactly how much He loves us. I know that a lot of people say how nervous they are giving a talk, but I get really nervous. At my singles’ ward, I had about a 10 minute talk prepared and when I gave it, it was 3 minutes; I go blank and I just go. So, please bear with me! As many of you know (and what was said earlier), I will be leaving for my mission to Jacksonville, Florida this week. I am so excited to be able to share what makes me happy with those I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity to serve. I’ve been infected by the missionary bug and it’s wonderful. You should all catch it if you haven’t already.
Out of high school, when I prayed about serving a mission, the answer was a no, or at least that’s what I interpreted it as. This past year I kept getting the prompting that I needed to fast and pray about whether I should serve a mission. I really didn’t want to serve a mission but I knew that as long as I trusted in God and His Plan for me that I wouldn’t be lead astray. As time has passed, I am able to see much clearer now that I need this mission and the growth it will yield. I fasted about it on Fast Sunday in April and later that month I went with my sister to do Baptisms at the Bountiful Temple. As we were waiting for our turn, I was praying and Heavenly Father answered my prayer. I’ve learned that fasting, praying, and going to the Temple gives you answers—so don’t do it unless you really want to know and want to follow through on the answers you receive. 
            When Jesus was asked “which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus responds (Matthew 22:36-40), “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” I used to be so confused by that last sentence. What did it mean when it said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”?
 As I was reading these scriptures over and over (because that’s how I function when I give a talk), I finally realized that every single thing we believe in and do are because of our belief and love for God. Keeping the Word of Wisdom, for example, is something that God has asked us to do because he loves us and knows what is best for us. We, in turn, keep that commandment (as well as the others) out of respect and love for our Father in Heaven and the knowledge that He just wants to see us happy and return back to Him. We provide service to others because as we serve we are given a glimpse into how much Heavenly Father loves those we serve, and we in turn grow to love them as well.
Using a classic talk technique, I Googled the definition of love; Webster dictionary defines love as an “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” During my second semester at Weber State, I was on my way to my car after my classes were done for the day. I was walking past the math building when I saw someone in a wheelchair that I had seen before and knew he didn’t have use of his extremities at all. This particular math building didn’t have the electric buttons that open and hold the doors open. I was able to run over, open the door and help him enter the building. The Webster dictionary defines help as follows, “to give assistance or support”, “to make more pleasant or bearable”, “to change for the better”. I believe that helping is an integral part of loving. So what does it mean to love your neighbour? Based on these definitions, I think that it means to be unselfishly loyal and benevolently concerned in giving support for our neighbours, and assistance for them, in changing for the better.
I acknowledge that I now have a bias toward missionary work, but what I am now realizing is how better to show our love for both our Lord and our “neighbours” than by sharing the Gospel and the way back to Heavenly Father and loving them the entire way? 
As I was beginning to prepare this talk, I Googled “The first and great commandment”, and you will never guess what was at the very top of the list; a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland in October 2012, its name “The First and Great Commandment.” The following is a portion of his talk that I felt really illustrated first of all love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ as well as loving our neighbours. This picks up after Christ’s death and resurrection, when Peter and the Apostles returned to fishing and Jesus returns again unto them. Elder Holland says,
 After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”  The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do.
Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: “Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?”
I just want to interrupt and share with you my knowledge that as we allow Christ’s life and love to enter fully into our lives, we will be compelled to share the Gospel and bless the lives of those we are around constantly. The responses Jesus gives after Peter responds, “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” are “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep.” When Jesus speaks of feeding his flock, he speaks of spiritual food. If Jesus wanted to give us fish, he could. He wants us to not only give physical help, but spiritual. Continuing on Elder Holland said,
“My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.”
I just want to add my words to what Elder Holland said. Giving of ourselves and sharing the Gospel is what can add happiness to everyone’s lives and will help us become true Disciples of Jesus Christ. Keeping the commandments shows our love and commitment to our Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 25:40, it says, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” As we serve those around us, we can truly be blessed with coming to know very personally our Savior Jesus Christ, and others through you can also come to know Him.
My grandma had back surgery last year during December and we were able to go and visit her in Colorado and were there the day they transferred her into a rehab facility. She was on the second floor the first door to the right, so you got to see everyone who passed by either coming or going. Well, a few doors down there was a woman whose name was Phyllis; she was basically a permanent resident at this rehab facility—she had very severe hearing loss and some form of memory loss, she really couldn’t remember much of anything. This woman would be placed in her wheel chair and she would shuffle her way around slowly—but she got places. With my Grandma’s room, we could see Phyllis pass by every so often and she got places—the nurses often lost track of her. She had no idea which room was hers so she would just go into a room and assume it was hers—I went into my own Grandma’s room once and she was in there going through some of my Grandma’s belongings.
            One of the days we were visiting, I was walking down the hall and she was shuffling her way along and she stopped and asked me what my name was. I responded and she couldn’t hear me so she asked me even louder with an “eh?” I then said it even louder which she didn’t catch again—later on we would see the nurses talking to her and they would be 6 inches away from her ear and basically yelling into it. So, instead of waiting for another answer she just propped her feet up and asked me to wheel her around. As I was wheeling her around, I don’t even think she was aware that I was really pushing her, but she just talked about her family and especially about some of the people she was missing, some of whom were dead. She rarely had any visitors because all of her family lived out of state and the ones who were in the state were slowly dying off.
Throughout this experience of maybe 10-20 minutes, I was able to grow to love this woman Phyllis. My sister and I still talk about her and we didn’t even really know her. I was able to feel the love that Heavenly Father has for one of His precious daughters. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some time with Phyllis and show her that even though I really didn’t know her that someone cared enough to spend some time with her. This may not have changed her life drastically, but it hopefully helped her feel that she was cared for and important during the time that she could remember that experience.
            I want to testify that loving your neighbours and loving God are very similar. As we love God, we love those around us. As we love those around us, we can see and feel how much He loves them and us. One of the things I am nervous about with serving a mission is learning how to truly love the people that I will be serving. I believe that God knows exactly what we need to learn and he leads us along a path that will help us learn and grow the most.
I know that Joseph Smith truly translated the Book of Mormon and restored the authority and true church of God on the Earth again. I know that President Monson is the Prophet of God on Earth today. I know that this Gospel is one of change and that all things are possible through Christ. I know that we are all children of God and that he loves us and wants us to be happy. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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