Saturday, April 20, 2013

No Growth in your Comfort Zone and No Comfort in your Growth Zone

Family!
Friends!
And others who may not fit into either category for whatever reason!
Hello there! It's p-day again! And my 12th one! Do you know what this means?! I've been out here 3 months and time flies. That's what I have concluded anyway. Moving on.
I have a lot of random fun to detail this week. But first, I should give a public congratulations to my beautiful cousin who got married this last Friday. I wish you all the best! I also want to congratulate one of my preschool friends who is getting married in a couple weeks. I wish you all the best as well!
So my week was pretty good.  I'll begin with the story of when we were driving in the car with the window rolled down and a bee landed on Sister Stone. I am still saying prayers of gratitude that she wasn't the one driving this time. The commotion that ensued was nothing short of hysterical. Sister Mortensen and I would have gladly helped her had we not been doubled over laughing in the back seat. Sister Stone has a phobia of bees. 'Nuff said. Even the member who was driving us to our appointment thought it was hysterical. Her six year old daughter totally kept her composure in the back seat and was shouting at Sister Stone, "Sister Stone!! Don't scream, it'll sting you!!" She looked at me and said, "I'm not afraid of bees. I just squish them." Oh she's adorable!
I have this random urge to tell you about my climbing adventures last Monday. Even though. It wasn't adventurous. Like, at all. But our trio and another group of sisters found a playground outside a recreation center to hang out at last week, and there was a climbing wall! Of sorts. It was plastic. And probably six feet tall. Was I up it in seconds anyway? Yes. Yes I was. So that was fun. We also played basketball together as a district. Sorta. Sister Mortensen and I didn't want to join the Elders' game because it was getting really intense and we don't like basketball all that much. So we found another basketball and started shooting hoops. Except our ball was full of so much air, it kept bouncing right out of the rim. So we decided to add a little spice to it and hit the ball against the ground and watch it fly. I actually made several baskets that way! It was awesome. And a great way to relieve stress, let me tell ya. Missionaries are really easily entertained.
Well, it's definitely Spring here! Do ya know how I know? Because everyone and their dog are buying puppies. Well . . . I guess just everyone. Minus the dogs. Because . . .they're buying dogs. So they don't actually have the dogs until they buy the puppies. Moving on. We visited two different families this week who had bought newborn chihuahuas. Now, I don't like chihuahuas. But they are super adorable as puppies. They were small enough to cup in one hand. I even could fit one in my bag! But they wouldn't let me take him home. Bother.
And the trees are blooming! It's so gorgeous! Oh my heavens, Tennessee. I love Utah, and I miss those mountains, but the trees here are something else. It's so beautiful seeing thousands of trees all turn green, white, and pink all at once. It's beautiful!! I'm really happy I get to spend two Springs here. And it's super warm! I love it. Nice and humid. That won't be fun in the Summer, but for now I love it.
OOOOh speaking of weather, I got to experience my very first Tornado warning!! Oh it was awesome. Sadly, there was no tornado. I was disappointed. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. But the storm was super neat! It put thunderstorms in Utah to SHAME. It's cool, because the lightning here lights up the entire sky, and you can see the silhouette of all of the trees. It looks super cool! And every thunderclap is a ground-shaking explosion. The rain is torrential; it comes down in sheets. I think it rained more that one night than it has in Utah for the past year and a half. It's so legit. I hear storms like that happen all Summer! Bring it on!
So, the work isn't flying as fast as it has the past few weeks, but we have hit milestones with several of our investigators! I am still in awe at just how prepared this area is. The people here are so ready to hear the Gospel, and the people we are teaching, for the most part, are so penitent and willing to yield their hearts to God. It's truly a blessing to serve here. I have a few stories this week concerning our investigators I would like to share! We'll start with Travis. This week we finally did the right thing and handed him off to the Elders in that area. It was hard because Travis was an investigator of ours who was progressing the fastest, but he doesn't actually live in our area. He seemed fine with the handoff though, and took to the Elders really well. We had another lesson with him this week and read a few scriptures in the Book of Mormon about faith, hope, and charity. After discussing what those are, he asked us, "I'm going to have to lose my earrings, aren't I?" We  just sat there. Where did that come from? We hadn't taught him about the importance of not defiling our bodies, but he told us that the Spirit told him he needed to take them out. So before we even answered he reached up and took them out. He's willing to do all it takes to turn his life around and follow the Savior. What an example.
And we received excellent news from him yesterday! His girlfriend, Angel, committed to be baptized! We were sad we couldn't be there to witness it, but the news made us happy all the same. And they're going to be married! After we taught them chastity we told them they would have to marry or separate, and they decided together to be married the day of their baptism. We're so happy and excited for them! I just love how their whole family is coming together. It has been so cool to witness the changes in this family. It started with Larry and Marlene, and now Travis and Angel are turning their lives around, we committed Marty to be baptized, and once we get Sheila's husband okay with the idea, we will commit Sheila to be baptized. And then their entire family will have been baptized! I just love them. I hope I get to stick around to see their stories continue to take shape. Transfers are coming up next Wednesday and I won't know until this Saturday morning if I stay or go. It would be tough to go; leaving this area would be like dropping a novel right in the middle without picking it up again. I want to see how these people continue to progress toward the temple. But even if I don't get to see it, I know that God will always watch out for them. And that gives me comfort, knowing the people I love are always in good hands.
This week we also met twice with Sharon, who is a recent convert with two sons, Quentin and Trevin. It has been a challenge trying to meet with both her sons at once, but we finally got a little lesson in this week. Sharon has been going through a really rough time as of late; she lives in a rough patch of neighborhood, and her sons are struggling with their own problems as well. We recommended a talk to her by Elder Holland entitled, "Lessons Learned in Liberty Jail." I wasn't too familiar with it, so the three of us decided to listen to it yesterday on our way to Church. Wow. If you are going through a rough time, read it. If you're not going through a rough time, read it anyway. This is your homework assignment. This is one of the most powerful talks I have ever heard. He talks about how some of the hardest trials in our lives can be as sacred as the moments we spend in the temple, because they bring us closer to Christ. I can't do it justice. Go read it. You'll be glad you did.
Kathy and Jerry are progressing as well. After her surgery, Kathy has been really tired and hasn't had much time to read. But the last time we paid her a visit, she said her dad was involved in an accident that left his face badly burned. She was so hysterical that the only thing that could calm her down was reading the Book of Mormon. I thought I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon before I came on my mission, but it has grown so much stronger out here. There is no pain that cannot be alleviated by the simple, pure truths taught in the Book of Mormon.  It gave her so much comfort and strength, and helped build her faith that she could be healed from her cancer. Listening to her testimony was incredible. Her husband, Jerry, expressed his desires for the first time to come to Church. Sadly we didn't see them there yesterday and haven't been able to get a hold of them, so we were thinking Kathy got really sick yesterday. Hopefully they're okay; we're keeping them in our prayers! Hopefully next Sunday we'll see them in Church. It's hard asking people to come to a Church that's located 20 miles away. It's a sacrifice, but everyone who makes the trip is richly blessed.
We did see Marty at Church yesterday! He came with his parents, and he really enjoyed it. He is progressing quickly and is excited for his baptism on the 4th. He has a pretty solid testimony already; he believes the Book of Mormon is true, and to deny it would be to turn against God. He's progressing so fast; we're so proud of him!  I hope I get to stay for his baptism!
Well, those are the highlights of the week. This week, overall, was good. Though we have seen hard days, our little trio pulls through. Sister Stone and Sister Mortensen burst into song the other day. To the tune of Dory's "just keep swimming," they started singing, "Just keep praying, just keep praying, just keep praying praying praying, what do we do? We pray . . . *opera voices* I love to prrrraaaaaaay . . ." It was hysterical! I love our trio. Granted, it's hard being a trio, but we still have good times together, and we've overcome a lot together. I love how much my mission has helped me grow. Sister Stone taught me something I will never forget, "There is no growth in your comfort zone, and there is no comfort in your growth zone." My mission has pushed me way outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. I do things every day that just make me uncomfortable. But they help me grow so much, and I'm so grateful for each and every experience. If you stay within your comfort zone, you won't grow. It's so tempting to retreat back into it, but you just can't if you want to progress. The refiner's fire is not meant to be a pleasant experience. We can experience joy along the way, but the most growth will come at the hardest of times, if we let it. Once again I need to refer to you to Elder Holland's talk. It is so good. Please read it; it's worth it.
I guess that's all for now! I love you all dearly and hope everything is well back at home. Thank you all for writing me letters, and I'm sorry if I'm slow on the response. P-days are just as crazy as any other day, and I'm slowly but surely cranking letters out. I haven't forgotten y'all, I promise! I pray for all of you every night and know that God is blessing you.
One more thing before I sign off. Another little homework assignment, I guess you can call it. We have been going to members homes a lot this week to get them excited about missionary work, and I figured it would be effective as well to try to get everyone at home excited about it too. I encourage all of you to pray for a missionary opportunity. Whether you live in Mormonville or not, you are surrounded by opportunities to teach the Gospel. Even if you don't have any nonmember friends, surely you know someone who is less active or someone who needs a Gospel message. If you pray for an opportunity to share the Gospel, God will provide you with that opportunity. And when you find it, take it. Write your testimony in a Book of Mormon and hand it out. Or go visit a less-active. Share your testimony with a stranger. Planting even just the smallest of seeds can produce incredible results; I have seen that on my mission. And I want all y'all to report back to me on your awesome missionary experiences! I would love to use examples from back home when I'm encouraging members to seek for missionary opportunities. So I would love it if all y'all could help me out!
Love you all so much!! I will write again next week with news of transfers and all sorts of fun adventures! Until then, have an excellent week! May God bless all of you.
-Sister Fox

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