Sunday, March 10, 2013
"Before you ladies showed up..."
And friends. Can't forget friends. 'Cuz I love all y'all!
And Tennessean accents. I'm actually starting to talk to myself in a Tennessean accent. And I am already using tons of southern slang. Apparently if you say "bless their heart," you can insult just about anyone. Not like I ever do that! I'm nice to people. I promise. :) The first time someone said "Bless your heart" to me I knew whatever was coming next probably wasn't going to be all that friendly. But I digress.
I also use "all y'all" all the time. And "honey." Everyone here calls you "honey." That one is catching on really fast.
I still am not, nor will I ever, use "fixin ta" or "done." Not gonna happen.
This week was nuts! Can I just say how much I love missionary work? The field is so white here in Clinton and Powell, and I feel so humbled and abundantly blessed to have the opportunity to serve here. It's a true blessing. We have met so many people this week and have seen the hand of the Lord guiding us every single day! We plan every night for the next day, but our daily plans rarely work out the way we think. God inspires us to deviate, and when we listen to the Spirit, we are led to people who are seeking the truth. We saw a lot of that this week, and it's both humbling and exciting!
So, I heard they are opening up 58 new missions?? That's so incredibly awesome!! The Church is growing fast! I am so unbelievably excited to hear those statistics in April. General Conference is coming up soon! Now that is going to rock. 'Cuz it always does. "General Conference is great . . . they teach everything good...yeah...yeah..."
Haha sorry. I am on one today. It has just been a really great week! And I'm on a sugar high. I had enough cake and pie this week to kill the average bear. But what does a missionary do when her investigators keep inviting her over for cake and pie? Ya can't say no. And ya gotta eat it. So I do. It's delicious! And gives me all this energy. Which is good, I guess, because being tired is not that fun as a missionary. But I digress again.
I don't even know where to start! I'll probably start raving about Shane. He is so golden! We finished teaching him all the lessons this week, we went over the baptismal interview questions, and he is so prepared! He is so excited for his baptism this Saturday. I just love teaching him! He glows more and more every time we visit him, and he has been so diligent in his scripture study and personal prayers. It's truly amazing to see how much he has changed and how accepting he has become just in the last two weeks. Nicole is so excited to see him get baptized!! I just love missionary work. It's a blessing to be an instrument in the hands of God and bringing them into His fold. What a blessing. Sis. Stone and I are really attached to Shane. As he walked into Church yesterday, he saw us, lit up, and exclaimed, "It's my FAVORITE sisters!!!" AH! I just love him. He's the best. :)
This week we finally got a hold of Marlene! I just love Marlene. She has been going through a really rough time, but Sis. Stone and I finally tracked her down and were able to have a really good lesson about personal revelation with her. But I should rewind a bit. Wednesday was the first time we finally heard from Larry and Marlene since they cancelled our appointment Sunday. We called on Wednesday to find out that their chimney had actually caught on fire the previous evening. Their house is already in pretty bad shape, and this just added to their pile of stress. It ended up being a blessing in disguise, though. Marlene was lucky enough to see the fire at an early stage, and so they put it out pretty quickly. And it gave the ward a perfect opportunity to come and help. They had only been to church once and didn't know many people. Sis. Stone and I were able to call the elders, the Priesthood leaders, and several sisters in the Relief Society, and we all went up there and started working on the house. The elders were able to assess the damage and start doing projects while the sisters helped clean smoke off the walls. This was a great opportunity for Marlene to see how willing the ward is to help and just how loving the members are. I feel like it was a huge turning point for her. On Friday we were able to visit with Marlene and she was still having a hard time dealing with stress. We called her home teacher, who happened to be just five minutes away! Coincidence? I think not! He came by and gave her a blessing. Even though he didn't know her situation at all, he still addressed every concern that she had disclosed to Sister Stone and I just ten minutes before. It's experiences like that that really strengthen my testimony of the power of the priesthood, and of personal revelation. That blessing was directly from God, and Marlene was able to recognize that. This is a huge turning point for her; she is getting so much stronger and is really growing in the gospel. She still has concerns about her baptism, but she'll pull through.
Yesterday was fantastic; Larry bore his testimony for the first time in 30 years. It was so touching; he talked about how we had changed his life and the life of his family. He finally had hope, after so many years, for his family to receive the Gospel. I was so touched and so humbled to know that I was an instrument in God's hands to bring not just Larry, but his whole family closer to Christ. A phrase I have come to truly adore out here is "Before you ladies showed up." We hear that a lot as we teach Larry and his family. "Before you ladies showed up, my husband wasn't even praying," or "Before you ladies showed up, my mother wanted nothing to do with your Church." I just love hearing things like that. It's a huge blessing to know that we have blessed others' lives by bringing them the Gospel. Hearts have been softened, and people have come so much closer to Christ. Their family has been brought closer together as well. That's what missionary work is all about; it's about changing people's lives. And it is an incredible blessing. The mission is tough, and sometimes it feels like the refiners fire, but it has also been one of the most incredible blessings I have experienced in my life thus far.
We're also working with her daughter Sheila, who is so prepared to receive the Gospel. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she already bought highlighters and bookmarks to mark her favorite scriptures. She has been diligently studying it, and we know she's ready to commit to baptism. The only problem is her husband; he's a devout Baptist. He wants nothing to do with the Mormon Church, so poor Sheila feels super stuck. We're all praying that her husband will soften his heart and allow her to be baptized. I've seen so many hearts grow soft out here, and I truly believe in miracles. She'll get baptized, I know it! I don't know if I will be here to see it, but I do know her whole family will be able to one day grow and progress in the Gospel. And I'm so grateful for that confidence; I know it comes directly from God.
We met more new investigators this week! We met Ruby, who is an elderly black woman who is affiliated with the Baptist Church. There are lots of Baptists here. Shocking, no? But her heart is pretty open to the Gospel. We taught her the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, and she said that she is pretty sure it could be true. But she wants to know for herself. We committed her to read and pray, and we hope that she will be able to recognize her answer. We keep inviting her to be baptized, but she says she has already been baptized. She hasn't quite grasped the idea of priesthood authority yet. We try to teach her, but we haven't been too blunt about it yet. We'll keep working with her. I'm excited to see where the gospel takes her!
Another rockstar we met this week is Caitlyn. She's about my age, and she is also affiliated with the Baptist church. She has an incredible spirit about her, and a profound love for God. Her friends told her that she shouldn't be meeting with us, but she let us in because she saw that we were here to help her strengthen her relationship with Christ. She said she doesn't plan to be converted, but she loves how we teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ, so she has been letting us come over. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and she's excited to start reading it! She's so awesome. She's the most loving, non-judgmental person. I just love her to death already!
We were also be able to get a hold of Kathy and Jerry this week! They were working with the elders, but since the elders left the area we haven't been able to get a hold of them. Finally we called Kathy and she said she was feeling sick and didn't feel well enough to meet with us. Sister Stone leaped at the opportunity to do some service, so we made some soup and brought it over. Kathy was really touched by our service, and she invited us back! We went there just last night to celebrate her birthday, and her whole family was there! So we had the opportunity to share a little gospel message with her whole family! Kathy and Jerry are an incredible couple. They just love the missionaries, and they said they want to try to come to Church next Sunday! That made Sister Stone and I pretty excited. They are so golden! I love them. So so much.
Last night we also were able to visit a new part member family we hadn't met yet. We met with Brother Braden, who is a member, and his mother, who is a Baptist. We didn't even have to ask her to take the lessons. We were only there for about five minutes before Bro. Braden turned to his mother and asked her if it would be ok that we come by every once in a while and teach her more about the Church. Wasn't expecting that. But she accepted! Bro. Braden was super happy. He followed us out to our car to get a copy of the Book of Mormon and got emotional as he told us that he has wanted his mother to accept the Gospel for the longest time, and now he feels like she's finally ready. He really loves sister missionaries because sisters had converted him to the Gospel. Now sister missionaries are in the area and he is really excited for us to teach his mother! We're so excited too! Ah! I just love how white the field is here! It's fantastic!
We've also been working with less active members, and we committed two less active families to meet with us and take the lessons! We are really excited to work with them. They're very open and blunt about their feelings toward the Church, but their hearts are still open to receive the word. Teaching them is going to be a great opportunity!
Ok, I think I covered mostly everything that I wanted to. This week was just so great! Investigators are popping up all over the place, and it is so humbling to see how prepared this area is to receive the Gospel! The work is progressing, and I can't say it enough; it is such a blessing to be a missionary. I love being a missionary during a time when God is hastening His work. I can see it all over the place. For March we have 6 baptisms planned already in our ward alone, and we are hoping to have many more as we continue working with all our investigators!
I want to thank all of you for your prayers, your letters, and your support. I love all y'all so much and pray for all of you as often as I can. I can feel God answering your prayers for me, and I am so grateful for it. The Church is true! Go tell the world!
Lots of love,