Thursday, March 21, 2013
Silver Dollars, Blossoms, and Baptisms
Guess what? This week rocked!
And there are no items of business this week, besides a public THANK YOU! to everyone who sent me letters this week, so we can jump right to the good stuff! Isn't that great?!
I s'pose I'll start with transfers.
Transfers were great! We got ourselves a third sister! It is so weird being in a trio. But it's also fairly awesome. It's like a sleepover every night! And the three of us have hit it off pretty well. Sister Mortenson is super awesome! She is just what the doctor ordered. She has brought so much more laughter and joy into our companionship, and even though it's harder to teach with unity with three of us, we have all been able to connect pretty well with our investigators. I knew Sister Mortenson in the MTC, so it was super nice to bring a friendly face into our companionship! I love it.
After transfers we got right to work! We got to visit a lot of people this week, and so much has happened! We were first able to visit Quinton, who I think I mentioned last time. He is Sharon's son, and Sharon is a recent convert. She has two sons who she really wants to see accept the Gospel. They've been pretty closed off, but Quinton is slowly opening up. We showed him the Restoration video and it went really well! He was raised Baptist, and he said our religion is so different from his, but he has liked everything we've taught him thus far. He said the movie felt different, and he loved the feelings of peace that came from watching it. We committed him to come to Church! Sharon was in tears. It was an incredible lesson. I just love being a missionary!
We were also able to meet with my three favorite little girls this week! Mary, Kaitlin, and Bethany all came to the Church for the Baptismal interviews Wednesday night. Kaitlin even handpicked tiny yellow flowers and put them behind my and Sister Stone's name tags. It was so adorable! I just love these three little girls!! As we were waiting for their interviews, we played a pretty intense game of keep-away with a basketball. Kids. They're the best.
And I need to freak out about Shane for a moment. Shane is so awesome! He received the priesthood this week!! We didn't get to see his ordination, but we got to see him afterward, and he was just glowing. He went with Nicole to the ward temple trip on Saturday, and he was able to do baptisms for the dead for the first time. He absolutely loved it! And what's extra awesome, he did over 20 family names! I love this Gospel. Not only was Shane baptized last Saturday, but now the work is rolling fast for his family on the other side of the veil. It just goes to show that one soul brought into the kingdom can create a huge snowball effect. It's the best feeling! I love being a missionary! The Church is true!
Thursday we had an incredible zone meeting, followed by a lesson with Kathy and Jerry. Kathy isn't doing too well. She found out her cancer is really bad, and she has been trying to keep herself occupied to keep her mind off of things. We invited her to come to the Relief Society activity, and she accepted! She followed us out to the church with her friend Theresea, and they both had a wonderful time! It made me so happy! I believe the two of them will progress fairly fast. With Jerry it's a little harder, but I think he'll get there too. We just need to be patient with him.
Ooooh guess what? This is completely out of the blue, but we're doing a scripture memorization activity throughout the duration of our missions. If you memorize one scripture a day for two years you will get a photographic memory. There's a certain method you go about memorizing and reviewing, it's pretty cool! I've been doing it for a while now. And guess what?? I memorized 3rd Nephi chapter 11!! The whole thing! I feel so proud of myself; it's the longest thing I've ever memorized! Anyway. Sorry. Just had to get excited a minute there.
Saturday was fantastic! We went to have dinner with Marlene and Larry, and their whole family was there! We haven't been able to teach their children in a really long time, but we were finally able to commit Travis and his girlfriend Angel to take the lessons! He also saw how a priesthood blessing had really blessed his father and he wanted one too. He was able to receive one at Marlene's baptism, and I think it really made a change in him. He's eager to learn more about the gospel and follow in his parents' footsteps. We're super excited for him!
Larry did something Saturday night that was really touching to me. He said he wanted to give us something to remember their family by, and as a token of appreciation for bringing the Gospel back into his home. He gave each of us a silver dollar, and said he had kept these all his life. They were a gift from his grandparents I believe, from the year they were born. Mine was from 1922. It was really touching to me that he would give me something of so much sentimental value to him. Words still cannot describe just how happy it makes me, that I was able to bless the lives of an entire family by being an instrument in the hands of God and taking them the Gospel. What a blessing! I will keep that silver dollar forever.
Update on Amanda and William, we finally were able to see them for the first time in a month. Every time we went over there they weren't home or needed to reschedule. We finally dropped in when Amanda was home, and she was going through a really rough time. We had the elders come out and give her a priesthood blessing, and she said afterward she was speechless. We committed her to come to Church, but unfortunately she changed her mind. However, I believe that blessing did a lot of good, and even if she does drop us, it was a seed planted.
We also got to see Ruby again this week, and we found out she's not as interested as we thought in learning more about the Gospel. We'll keep trying though!
Sunday was fantastic! It was Marlene's baptism. AND it was the baptism for Mary, Bethany, and Kaitlyn! AND it was the baptism for two other investigators that the Elders were working with! We had six baptisms in one day! And it was the most incredible service. Don't worry, I took tons of pictures! AND the trees are starting to blossom!! I hear Tennessee in Spring is absolutely gorgeous. I can imagine!!! I'm kinda sick of dead trees. Bring on the colors!
It was such an incredible experience. When I had first met Marlene and Larry, I was able to clearly envision them both in baptismal jumpsuits. I could see her clearly in white, and I could see Larry in white, baptizing her. What a blessing it was to see that vision come true yesterday. After 30 years of inactivity in the church, Larry was able to baptize his wife, whom he thought would never accept the Gospel. When she came up out of the water I burst into tears. I have only cried tears of joy 4 times in my life. But I can tell you, this was one of the happiest moments of my life thus far. As I expressed in my last letter with Shane's baptism, words cannot do justice to the incomprehensible joy that overflows your heart when you see someone accept the Gospel, and see their lives changed by coming closer to Christ. Marlene and Larry are completely different people. Their relationship is so much stronger. They are both glowing. They are so happy! Marlene was confirmed right after the service and was promised beautiful blessings. She gave me the biggest hug, told me she loved me, and with tears in her eyes thanked me for bringing her into the Kingdom. I will never forget that moment. Ever. I can't find the right words to describe it; nothing can do it justice. You don't understand the joy of missionary work until you experience it for yourself. Being an instrument in the hands of God is a feeling unlike any other. Bringing other people the Gospel and seeing their lives changed by it is one of the most incredible blessings I have been able to enjoy. I know days like yesterday won't happen every day on my mission, but days like that will carry me through my mission. AH! I wish I could just describe to you how incredible this feeling is! The work is expanding, and it's expanding fast! It is such a blessing to bring souls to Christ. Changing lives has changed my life. I've been out only two months and I feel like a completely different person. It's just incredible. The only thing that I can really use to describe my joy is Alma 26. Read it. It's good! =D I can't remember if I already told you that last week. As a missionary, your brain also gets fried. But it's okay, because it's worth it.
God lives. This is His true Church. You wanna know how I know? Because it would not feel this good bringing others into it if this Church wasn't true. And it would not feel this good saying it. I know the Church is true. I have witnessed first hand just how much it has blessed the lives of others. It changes people. It softens hearts. It mends broken family relationships. It brings insurmountable peace and joy to all those who accept it and diligently study it. It's also amazing how much you learn from investigators out here. I have learned so much from Larry and Marlene about diligent study. Not only do they read the Book of Mormon together every day, but they've been reading in the Sunday School manuals too. They've been asking questions and diligently searching for answers. They truly hunger and thirst after righteousness, and feast upon the words of Christ. They've inspired me to be more diligent in my own studies. I haven't just taught them, they have taught me. They have incredible testimonies, and I am so grateful that I was able to help them discover those testimonies. They will be the source of bringing many more into the Kingdom of God, and they will bless the lives of many others, I just know it.
I cannot express it enough. I just love this Gospel. Men are that they might have joy! This life is not just a life of trying to tough it out and survive until the end. This life is about finding joy! The Plan of Happiness is not just meant to secure our happiness in the next life, it's meant to secure our happiness in this life. Christ atoned for us so that we can find relief and happiness. Our knowledge of the Gospel brings us happiness. Living Gospel principles brings us happiness. I've seen that in the lives of others, as well as my own. The Gospel works. Living by its precepts blesses your life. No matter how hard it gets, be grateful you have the Gospel. And take it to others! Everyone needs the Gospel. Share it. You'll be glad you did! :)
I suppose it is now time to close this letter. I love you all so much and hope you all know just how grateful I am for you, your prayers, your letters, and support. I would not be the missionary I am today without all of you and your love and support. I'll talk to all y'all next week!! Keep the faith!