Ok, I'm gonna have to be fast, so I'm going to type everything as fast as I can. Because this week rocked, and I have so much to tell, and the library is only giving me an hour and I had to use the first 26 minutes for mission business. So, here it goes! Buckle up!
I got the package! Thank you so much! I actually kind of devoured the chocolate. I appreciate the healthy snacks too! It's ok if y'all wanna sneak a little sugar in there. Some days I really kind of need it. Don't fret about the Easter package, you can just do the same thing. I eat the dried Apricots like candy; I love them so much!
Before I get into my letter, I have a request. For letters. I don't want to sound like I'm entitled to letters or anything, but there are a few people I would absolutely love to hear from! You know who you are *cough* Laura, Jason Dahl, Elder Davis *cough*. Just saying. :)
I'm gonna send all y'all pictures soon! I just bought a card reader, so I will back them up on my flash drive and then send them all home. You'll see a lot of random pictures of animals. That's from the Zoo yesterday. We went as a district and it was tons of fun! I really love the Elders and Sisters in my district! They're all the best. I love my companion, but it's good to get to see other missionaries every once in a while!
Ok, so Tuesday. We visited a recent convert named Sis. Capshaw, and her story brings me to tears every time. She has had such a tough life but she is one of the strongest people I have ever met. This is the beautiful thing about missionary work. You see people struggle through so much, but you see just how much the Lord loves them and can make people whole through faith in Him. She has the strongest testimony and she is an incredible example to me. I love working with incredible people like this out in the field, it is a huge blessing.
Tuesday we also met a new less active family. Larry was a mormon as a young boy, but he had some really bad experiences with people in the church. But what's incredible to me is that he doesn't have any grudges against the LDS faith. He had a rough childhood, but he still remembers how being a member of the church made him stronger. He was married in an LDS church when he was 18 and hadn't been back since. He's 51 now, and lives with his wife, Marlene, who is Baptist. Their story is truly incredible. As I listened to their history I could see so many instances when the Lord was preparing them to hear His Gospel. It's amazing to see how the Lord prepares people to listen to you. Their hearts had been humbled and by the time we came to their doorstep, they were both still seeking for truth. We committed them both to take the lessons and left them with a couple copies of the Book of Mormon to read. What's crazy is that they had missionaries come to their doorstep before. But they would just goof off! They would go fourwheeling and stuff with Larry and would leave Marlene at home. She didn't like the elders much. And of all the missionaries and home teachers that came to their door, no one ever invite them to church. Crazy, right? If all y'all are visiting less-actives, invite them to church. For heaven's sake, everyone needs church. Never give up on someone or refuse to send out an invitation because you're afraid they won't accept it. If they don't accept it, they will in time. Always love them no matter what and never give up on them! You never know what kind of seeds you're planting.
We met Larry and Marlene again on Thursday. It's a very personal experience, but I can honestly say that I have never felt the spirit more strongly in my life, save the time I stood in the Celestial Room of the temple with my family for the first time. Thursday I experienced the pure, exquisite joy of missionary work. I could feel the Spirit speak through me as I told Larry and Marlene things they truly needed to hear. As Sister Stone and I taught them, I saw a light go on in their eyes. I saw a restored hope that they thought they had lost. A hope for a brighter future and a greater plan in store. By the end of the night, everyone was in tears. We committed Marlene to baptism and she said yes without hesitation. Larry just sat there and said he needed time to take it all in. He wanted his wife to be a part of the LDS faith for the longest time but never pushed it on her because he was afraid she wouldn't accept it. And now she wanted to get baptized. It was an incredible, incredible experience.
Larry and Marlene came to church Sunday for the first time! Larry said it brough back really good memories and Marlene was really excited to come back next week. I love these two! This couple is so golden. They have had such a hard past but they can see the hand of the Lord in their lives, and they truly feel like we were sent to them personally to share the gospel with them. One week ago we didn't even know them. Now we're the best of friends and Marlene is getting baptized! AND last night we went back to teach them and two of their children were there! That was also an amazing experience. Their oldest, Travis, told us that his father had never really spoken about religion and his mom had been baptist for years. Now, all of a sudden, his dad is going back to church and talking about religion, and his mom is going to be baptized into the LDS church. He said he trusts his parents and generally likes to follow in their footsteps. So he wanted to take the lessons to know what it means to be LDS. We taught them all the Restoration and watched the Restoration film. I love that movie. 22 minutes of pure spirituality. We gave both of them a Book of Mormon and they are all going to take the lessons together as a family! I'm so happy I'm fit to burst!
And to top that all off, we met an incredible member, Sis Morfey, who is a great member missionary. Just last year she converted three people to the gospel! We went to visit her and she told us about her boyfriend. She wants so desperately for him to accept the gospel in his life, but he is stubborn and so devout in his own Christian faith. She said she doesn't want to push it, so she denied us when we asked her to invite him for a lesson. I told her to pray about it and that the Lord will let her know what action to take. Well, sure enough, Monday afternoon, she gave us a call and said her boyfriend would be over that night and wants to talk to the missionaries! That was an exciting piece of news! So after we had an awesome lesson with Larry and Marlene's family, we went over to Sis. Morfey's and talked to her boyfriend. He had a lot of questions and concerns, but we committed him to take the lessons, to start praying, and to start reading the Book of Mormon. I'm so excited to work with him and see where the Gospel takes him. He really wants to know the truth, and even though he's taking the lessons for his girlfriend, I see so much potential in him and know he will gain his own testimony.
That's the incredible thing about being a missionary. You see potential. I see people wearing baptismal suits the moment I meet them. I see families who are strong in the gospel. I see it all before it happens. And it's incredible to be able to see a little piece of what God has in store for others. It's also a blessing to be able to feel the love God has for His children. There have been so many times I have sat in a lesson and have testified of God's love for them, and I have felt it surge through my veins as I have taught. You really learn to love people out here. Despite their quirks, weaknesses, and flaws. Not just investigators, companions as well. Sometimes Sister Stone and I clash because our personalities are so vastly different. Sometimes it can be difficult to move forward because we both combat stress in different ways. But I have learned so much about loving others who may do things differently than you. The worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God, and I have seen that manifested out here more than ever before. It's an incredible blessing to be a witness of that.
So you may be wondering about the title of the email. The experiences I just described to you were only about 2-3 days out of last week. The other days, I'll be honest, were hard. Several brought me to my knees. We tracted with no luck in a snowstorm. We were cut off mid-sentence again and again as people shut their doors. We have had people drop appointments and ignore our phonecalls. We've tried in vain to get a hold of people who have tried to disappear from the face of the earth. And those days can be hard to get through. But, in the words of Elder Holland, salvation is not supposed to be easy. Missionary work is tough. But these tough experiences are what refine us. One night I was talking to Sister Stone about how hard it was for me to cope on slower days. She told me something I will never forget. The bad days will outnumber the good. But the good days will outweigh the bad days. That is so true. Not just of missionary work, but of life as well. We will all hit bad days that will bring us to our knees, pleading for help. But whatever we are facing in life, help will come. The light of Christ will flow into our lives as we turn to Him. And He will show us our purpose. He will remind us what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and will remind us of the happiness that comes from following Him. I saw that a lot this week. The experiences I had with the Bainum family and with Sis. Morfey's boyfriend. Those experiences with the Spirit made everything worth it. Even the bad days. The good days have outweighed the bad by a huge margin. There's no comparison.
Well, that was my week! Even though we had a bit of snow this week, Tennessee is as beautiful as ever, and I'm looking forward to Spring when all of these trees will get some leaves. I absolutely love it here in Clinton. We spend most of our time in Clinton and don't go up to Lake City unless there's a member present, so if you've been reading up on Lake City, don't worry. We always go by the Spirit and do whatever we can to be safe. :)
I'm definitely in good hands here. The members feed us every night, and they're always really nice, home-cooked meals. The members are super friendly and all really involved in missionary work. It's always a blessing to know that our investigators and converts will be in good hands after we leave.
I love all of you! Thank you so so much for all your letters, prayers, and support! It all means the world to me. Missionary work is tough, but I love it. I love the joy that comes from restoring hope to a soul wandering in darkness. I love that joy that comes from serving God. You all can feel that joy too as you reach out to others in love and service.
Better close for now! I will write all y'all next week! I love you!!