Monday, March 11, 2013

"How Great Shall Be Your Joy"

Family!

Friends!
Random Citizens reading my mission blog!
Hey y'all!!! Oh my heavens!! Can I just say how much I LOVE missionary work?? Because I do. A lot! This week was Fan. Tastic. Could it have gotten any better? I submit that it could NOT! Actually it could have. But I digress. The important thing is that it rocked. Lemme tell you why!
But first, items of business!
So. Y'all have probably heard. And if not, all y'all are gonna find out the new emailing policy from me. The missionary department has released a new emailing policy for missionaries. We can now send emails to, and receive emails from, family and friends. Yep! Now, before y'all get too excited, I have been given more time on p-days to write emails (90 minutes) but I am going to spend the majority of that time writing these weekly emails. I will respond to personal emails, but I can't promise a novel. But please, if you're too busy to write, please send me emails! I would absolutely love to hear from all of you, even if it is just a couple of lines. And it's free!! My address isbrianna.fox@myldsmail.net. And friends, I can't email any of you because I have no addresses. So send me emails so I have your addresses. Please and thank you! Or you can send me just a quick email with just your email address so I can start sending these emails straight to you.
Jason, even though I'll be sending these out to all of my friends, I still want my letters on my mission blog. Please and thank you! =D You're the best!
I do want to take the liberty right now and express my preference for dearelder/handwritten letters. There's just something about letters in the mailbox that make missionaries the happiest people alive. Just sayin'.
Also. Some people tend to make fun of Sister Stone and I because we get anxiety. Me? Anxious? Never. :P
Jacob 1:5. Validated.
I think that's all the business I have this week! Now on to the good stuff! Not like that wasn't good and exciting. Especially for Marissa, I'm sure she's freaking out right now. ;) But now for all the joy that was my week! Buckle. Up.
I'll have to write it day by day so I don't leave anything out! Last Monday was P-day, and it was so much fun! We got together as a district and played basketball. Can I play basketball? No I cannot. But that's what makes it fun. Sister Stone and I also took the liberty to go to Wal-Mart and get bright orange t-shirts for the University of Tennessee. Now we have matching Tennessee football shirts! I feel so acculturated ( I think that's the word I'm looking for . . .). It's great!
Monday night we got to visit Caitlyn again! I just love this girl. Even though she's Baptist, her mind and heart are so open to the Gospel. Her relationship with Christ is so strong, and she loves learning everything she can about Him. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she soaked it in like a sponge. And what's absolutely fantastic is that she's reading the Book of Mormon! AND she got one of her friends to start reading it too! We're meeting with both of them tonight to teach the Restoration. Exciting stuff! Wish us luck! And pray for us. Prayer works. I have a testimony of that.
Tuesday we had exchanges! It was my very first exchange (naturally) and it was quite the interesting experience! It felt weird leaving Sister Stone for a day, but it was interesting working with Sister Cluff for a day to see how she likes to go about doing the work. The only problem was that it was POURING rain, and Sister Cluff didn't want to tract in it. But, we spent the day visiting less-actives and members in the area, and it was fun meeting all sorts of new people! In fact, I got to meet a German rocket scientist who once shook hands with Hitler. You think I'm kidding. You meet all sorts of cool people out here! He and his wife are really neat people; they're strong members of the Church who love the Lord and His gospel. We also met an older woman who likes to make her own candy out of granola. It was . . . a new experience. Bless her heart.
Wednesday was fantastic! After exchanging back, Sister Stone and I went to visit Marlene. Oh my heavens! What a change. It was an hour of pure joy and sunshine. She was glowing when we walked in there! It was certainly a huge change from when I had last seen her. After the fire she was at one of the lowest points I had ever seen. But after she received her priesthood blessing and we talked to her more about personal revelation, things started clicking into place. She began reading more of the Book of Mormon on her own and with Larry, and it sparked a huge change in her. Sister Stone and Sister Hatch were able to teach her the rest of the Plan of Salvation on exchanges, and apparently she absolutely loved it! After that lesson she knew it was true. By the time I got to see her, she was a glowing ball of sunshine! She knows the Book of Mormon is true, and she recommitted to being baptized! She'll be baptized on Sunday with five, yes FIVE, other people! We're so excited for her and Larry! Larry has changed a lot too. He says he keeps having more and more flashbacks about his childhood in the church. He glows more and more when we go over there, and he and Marlene have grown so close together.
I cannot even begin to express the love I have for this family. As a missionary, even you are surprised by the immense increase in your own capacity to love. It's a true blessing to be able to feel the love God has for His children. As I teach Larry, Marlene, and their family, I can feel God's love for them fill my heart. Words can't even do it justice. I love being a missionary. I love seeing how the Gospel has changed this home. Where once it was a hopeless place of shattered dreams, it is now a place  filled with the Spirit of God, with the light of the Gospel, and with the joy that comes from bringing Christ into the home and the family. How humbling it is to be an instrument in the hands of God to make this all possible. I feel so immensely blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Larry and Marlene. Not only do I feel God's love for them, but I feel God's love for me as we teach them. The Gospel is incredible. It changes lives, it softens hearts, and it mends family relationships. I always knew it had this power, but there's something so different about witnessing it first hand. Words can't do it justice. I just love missionary work. Consider a mission. The choice is between you and God, but if you feel like you should go, do it. Don't be afraid. It's the hardest thing I've done and I've only been out two months. But it is also the most rewarding thing I've done. I can tell you how joyful it is all I want, but you can experience that joy for yourself. And if now isn't the time for you to go, pray for missionary opportunities. Yes, even you, living in Mormonville. Because there are missionary opportunities all around you. Even if you're surrounded by members, there are people who need you. They may need more of the light of Christ in their lives. A lot of the work we do is with the less actives. Missionary work isn't about just baptizing. It's about bringing people to Christ. And it's almost even more urgent to work with those who have been through the temple and have made those sacred covenants. Now is more important than ever to bring these people into activity. They need friends. They need a listening ear. They need to feel loved and validated. I promise you, yes you, that someone needs you. Pray for a missionary opportunity and you will find it. And you will feel the same kind of incomprehensible, exquisite joy that comes from bringing a soul closer to Christ. Changing lives will bless your life.
Missionary commitment of the week. I like committing people to do things. :)
Wednesday night we had dinner with one of the members, and they have this little dog I just have to tell you about. Now, everyone here has a dog. Like, everyone. And not just any dog. A tiny dog. That yaps. And yaps. And yaps. And not just one. But several. I love dogs. I do. Just. Not the ones here. I kind of want to punt them across the yard. But I digress. They have this dog that seriously, I kid you not, sounds like Daffy Duck every time it barks. It's so funny. I was laughing so hard! They call him their "little duck." I was dying all through dinner because it wouldn't quit quacking/barking. I just had to share that.
After dinner we had Shane's baptismal interview! When he came out he said he got an A++, so I guess he passed! =D He was glowing. He is so excited to be baptized! He is so solid. I just love him so much. Then I came home to a stack of 12 letters. Happy missionary!!!! Thank you all so much for sending me letters! I try to respond to all of them, but I'm swamped on P-days. I'll do my best though, I promise!!
Thursday it snowed! What the deuce? And it stuck!! There is a white blanket of snow in Tennessee. Snow. I thought I had escaped it. But hey. I didn't let it ruin my week because my week rocked. Take that, mother nature!
Just watch, there'll be a tornado or something next week.
Thursday we met with Sharon, a recent convert. She is the sweetest woman, and has a really hard story. It has been a huge blessing, being able to administer to her. She talks a lot about her sons, Trevin and Quinton, whose hearts are closed off to the Gospel. They were almost baptized, but something happened and they wandered. Well, we were visiting with her, and before we knew it, Trevin and Quinton both walked in the door within 10 minutes of each other. It was nuts! We had been meeting with Sharon for 5 weeks and we had never seen her sons. They stay away when missionaries are over. But they stayed! And they didn't even lock themselves in their rooms. They pulled out chairs and began to listen! Sister Stone and I were shocked. But very pleasantly surprised! We taught them a little bit about the Book of Mormon and invited them to take the lessons. They said yes! We were in awe. So was Sharon. When Sister Stone and I left the apartment we turned to each other and asked, "What just happened?" It was so awesome! Totally made our day. The work is hastening, and more people are prepared than you think!
Thursday night we met with Sheila, Larry's and Marlene's daughter. She is still working on her husband; he still isn't too wild about the Mormon Church, he being a devout Baptist and everything. But we're still praying for her, and I have a feeling of optimism in my heart about her situation. I know that his heart will soften and he will let her be baptized. It's just a matter of when. She really wants to be baptized. I know she will. It will just take a little more working with her husband.
"And where do you think he said we should go? The Gro-cer-y Store."
So, Sister Stone and I were hungry after our weekly planning on Friday morning. So we went to the grocery store. "Indigestion." "Inspiration!" We began talking to Brittany, the girl putting our food into bags. We asked her how her day was and she said she was actually going through a pretty hard time right now. She stared at our name tags for a solid 10-15 seconds and said " . . .Maybe y'all can help." Can I just tell you how much I love hearing that sentence? Cuz I do. A lot. "Ask the missionaries! They can help you!" True statement. We talked to her a little about the Church and how turning to Christ can help her overcome her trials. She accepted our number and we invited her to Shane's baptism. Unfortunately we didn't see her there, but she did say we could drop by sometime and teach her the lessons. You can find investigators just about anywhere you go! It's awesome to see just how white the field is over here in Clinton.
Friday night we visited with Kathy and Jerry. Poor Kathy is going through a really, really hard time right now. Her cancer is in a really bad state, and she doesn't know what to do about it. Friday night was incredible though. Sister Stone and I had a dinner appointment with Sis. Brewer, a solid member who was a missionary herself several years ago. At the last minute she decided to team up with us to visit Kathy. Turns out that Sis. Brewer's mother had the same type of cancer Kathy has and fought it. She and Kathy were really able to connect, and Sis Brewer started whipping out scriptures that really helped calm Kathy down and regain a sense of hope. It was absolutely incredible. All of our team-ups are inspired. It's amazing to see the hand of God everywhere we turn. Half the time we don't even know we're working by inspiration. It's another testimony that God puts specific people into the paths of His children in order to bless their lives and minister to them. It's truly amazing.
Saturday was Shane's baptism! That was easily the happiest day of the week! Sister Stone and I were singing all the way to the Church (which is saying something because it's a 40 minute drive). It was a beautiful service. I got to play the piano! Hooray! It feels good, being able to contribute your talents. The service went so well! The talks were fantastic, Shane was glowing, and Nicole was ecstatic. I just love them! They're planning on being married soon, and they'll go to the temple a year from now to be sealed! AH! It's all so exciting I can barely handle it!
Words cannot express the amount of joy I felt as I watched Shane be baptized. As he came up he started crying a little bit, and I almost lost it right then and there. Sister Stone and I were smiling so much it hurt. My skin was the only thing keeping me from going just about everywhere at once. It was, seriously, one of the happiest moments of my life. I know I've said it many times before, but it is such a joyful experience, being an instrument in the hands of God! As Shane entered the waters of baptism, I felt so humbled to have been the one, along with Sister Stone, to help him make it this far. I am richly blessed. I just love it. The Church is true!!
Saturday morning we got our transfer call! Oh, Sister Stone and I were dying. I really really really really didn't want to leave Pleasant Ridge. I am too much in love with this area, and with the people, to leave it. Luckily, I don't have to! But guess what blew my mind? We're getting another sister. We're gonna be a trio!! Now I have mixed feelings about that. I have never been in a trio, nor have I ever known anyone in a trio, so I have no idea how to even be a trio. With three sisters teaching instead of two, it may be hard maintaining unity. But we'll see how that goes!
Sunday rocked! Shane received the Holy Ghost and Larry received the Priesthood! More happiness and joy followed! I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK! Yes. This merits All-caps. And we're gonna have 46 baptisms in the month of March in our mission!! The Church is true! I really connected with Alma 26 this week. Read it, it's good!
I wish I could say more! Time is running short. I hope you know how much I love all y'all and how much I appreciate your letters!
God is hastening His work! The Church is true and blessing lives is the best!! I love you all so much! I can't say it enough!
Until next week!
-Sister Fox

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