Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blessings In Disguise

Why hello friends and family!!

Oh my heavens. I knew missionary work is a series of ups and downs, but I had no idea just how quickly things can turn around! Y'all would not believe my week this week. Prayers were answered and miracles occurred. I don't even know where to start. Thank you all so much for your prayers on my behalf and on behalf of my investigators, they have made all the difference in the world! I cannot tell y'all how excited I am to write this letter! The Church is true!

I suppose I'll start with MondayMonday we saw Kathy and Jerry, and we were happy to see that they were out of the hospital and had nothing but a few bruises. They had certainly had a rough weekend, but they came out on top. Jerry is even thinking about getting baptized! That's a pretty big step for him; we've been trying to commit him for weeks and he kept shooting it down. So it's a start! I just love them. :)

Monday evening we saw Caitlin again and re-committed her for baptism! She, of course, was already planning on getting baptized, but she missed her date because she couldn't come to sacrament meeting enough times, so we re-committed her for the second week of June. We're all praying our hearts out that she will get Sundays off! But I know God answers prayers and all things are done according to His will. Caitlin will pull through, I know it!

Tuesday we saw Evangeline again! I don't know if I mentioned Evangeline in my last letter, but she is this adorable Spanish lady we tracted into. She thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses, who come visit her all the time, so she let us in. She was surprised to find out we were LDS, but she listened to our message and accepted a Book of Mormon. We taught her the Restoration this week and she responded pretty well to it! We're going to teach her again tonight. I'm excited!

Wednesday was probably the best day of my mission thus far. Well . . . one of the best. Those are hard to measure. We got a call from Larry in the morning letting us know that Travis was released from jail! He really was supposed to have court the day after he was arrested, but they put it off a week for some reason. I testify to you all, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Travis was put in jail under false charges, but it was a huge blessing in disguise. Not only did it help him entirely overcome his struggles with the Word of Wisdom, but he also met someone who was ready to receive the Gospel. According to Travis, while all the other inmates were talking about drugs and worldly things, he taught the Gospel to Wesley. Wesley is an incredible individual. Oh my heavens. We met him on Wednesday, and he blew me away. I have never met anyone who is so starving for truth. We all sat down together, and as I pulled out my Book of Mormon he nearly leaped out of his seat, grabbed my hand, and said, "Aren't we going to pray first?" I was so taken aback. Wow. This man is so solid. So we all joined hands and said a prayer, after which we studied the words of the Gospel. Wesley drank it in. He wants to turn his life around. He and Travis are already the best of friends, and Wesley wanted to be baptized with him, but we told him he has to take the lessons first. He is committed to be baptized though!! Sadly we're actually not the missionaries that will be teaching him, because he lives in Oak Ridge, but I hope we will be able to attend his baptism!! Words cannot adequately describe the joy I felt as we testified to Wesley about the power of repentance and turning your life over to God. He wants this so badly. What an example. I love missionary work! I cannot say it enough!

My friends and family, it is by small and simple things that God will carry out His great and marvelous works. My favorite moment was telling Wesley about how God has a very special, intricate plan for each of us. I told him about the story regarding Travis's whole family. How Sister Stone and I were at a loss of things to do, so we decided to pull out the roster. I asked one simple question, "Should we pick a random person or just go in alphabetical order?" Sister Stone said alphabetical order. So we called the person at the top, who happened to be Larry. Through him we met Marlene, and through teaching her the gospel, we were able to teach Marty and Travis the gospel, and it started a whole domino effect. Marlene's, Marty's, Travis's, and Wesley's conversion stories are certainly miraculous ones, and I love seeing how all the pieces of God's plan for Travis, his family, and Wesley are coming together. After all the miracles we've seen, I know we will be able to reach Sheila. She wants this, but her husband is still against it. I know through prayers she can be baptized. Miracles do happen!

The stress this week came from pulling together a last minute baptism. I tell ya, the best kind of stress on the mission is the stress that comes from having to put a baptism together at the last minute. We had no idea that Travis would be ready, so we combined with the Oak Ridge ward, made tons of phone calls, and got programs together just two days before Marty and Travis were baptized. It was such an incredible service. Larry gave one of the best talks I have ever heard at a baptism. He spoke to his sons about continuing their walk and maintaining their Faith in Jesus Christ. It was so beautiful. I may just have to get a copy. Marty and Travis were then baptized, and once again, I cannot adequately express in words the immense joy I felt as these two people, whom I have come to truly love, entered into the waters of baptism. Their countenances are so different from when we first met them. They have grown and changed so much, and I am so immensely grateful for the opportunity I had to be an instrument in the hands of God. Marlene came up and hugged me afterwards, and said they couldn't have done it without me. I was brought to my knees in humble gratitude several times this week, thanking God for the incredible blessings and miracles we have seen. Being a missionary is one of the most tremendous blessings. Just as a diamond on black velvet, this week stands out in brilliant contrast to the heartache we experienced last week. But I was able to learn through experience that the joyful moments in life are so much sweeter when we understand pain and heartache. There is an opposition in all things, and it is only by tasting of the bitter that we truly can understand the joy.

So, my beloved family and friends, trust in God. Blessings can be found during the most trying of times. Many trials can be tremendous blessings in disguise. We may not be able to see the end of the road, but God does. It is only after we have climbed the mountain that we can look at the bottom and see how far we have come. And though the climb is difficult, it can still be enjoyed by appreciating the beauty along the way. God's plan for us is so elaborate, so intricate, so perfect. In the midst of the storm, Christ called out, "Be of good cheer, it is I. Be not afraid." So He calls out to us. In the midst of the storms and tempests in our lives, Christ is right there with us, watching us, and guiding us. It is all part of His plan. Keeping an eternal perspective and knowing that God wants what is best for us will help us through the hardest of times. So trust in God. As I said last week, trust in His plan for you and His plan for your loved ones. He wants what is best for you, and for them, even more than you do. And He will help you, and them, pull through.

Well, that is all for now. I hope you know how much I love you all and how much I am praying for all of you. Your support means the world to me, and I could not be the missionary I am now without your love and prayers. This week's scripture is Philippians 4:11-13. Read it; it's good.

Love you all! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mark 6:48-50

Well hello there, friends and family!

This email is going to be all over the place, but I thought I would start with funny stories, because I always do. And last night I totally forgot about all of them, so I'll include them today! First funny story starts with last Monday. Sista M and I were tracting, and we started up someone's driveway. We couldn't see the house because of all the trees, but we figured it wasn't that far. Well, we kept on walking, and there was more and more driveway. And it kept getting steeper and steeper! Oh my heavens, it was like hiking the Y. We finally got to the top and we were panting. We knocked on the door and a very confused woman, who was talking on the phone, answered. Before we could say anything, she asked, "Did you . . .just walk up my driveway?" All we could do was nod. "You WALKED up my driveway?? Seriously? Do you need a glass of water or something?" She even hung up the phone, "I'm gonna have to call you back, these girls just walked up my driveway." We proceeded to talk to her about the Gospel for 30 minutes. She said she usually doesn't talk to church people, but she was impressed we walked up her driveway. I guess that shows dedication! Sadly she didn't invite us back, she just agreed to disagree on religion. But at least we made an impression!
Another funny moment was when Sista M and I were doing our daily planning. We were making backup plans, and we had no dinner appointments this week, so we were saying, "Well, dinner isn't going to fall through, so we don't need a backup for that. Unless . . .we stand ourselves up . . ." To which Sister Mortensen replied, "That's it self, we're over! It's not you, it's me." That had us rolling on the floor for a while. Everything is twice as funny when you're a missionary.
And I said this last night, but for those who haven't heard it, Sister M and I are starting to get really unified, to the point where we will start saying the same things at the same time. This week we both burst out singing "Lester's Possum Park" from A Goofy Movie. Simultaneously. That was probably the funniest thing that happened this week!
Well, another week has come and gone, and I feel kind of bad that Mothers' Day fell on a day that followed the most difficult week of my mission thus far. But it was so fun seeing and talking to everyone! It certainly made my week. :) And I hope you all know that I love you lots and despite all odds, I'm still quite happy. And this email, rather than going over the details of my week (because I really don't want to relive it if I can help it) I'll be focusing more on what I've learned about the character of the Savior.
Though I will give a little bit of background. What made this week tough was that everything was beyond our control. Every appointment, save one, fell through. We had an investigator chase us off her porch, several ignore our phonecalls and visits, none could make it to church, and, due to purposeful human injustice and indecency, two investigators were hospitalized and one was thrown in jail. I can handle rejection, but it's difficult to see people I love go through so much hardship.
Sometimes things happen in life that make you want to throw your hands up in the air and just ask, "Why?" And not always "Why is this happening to me?" but "Why is this happening to him? To her? To them?" And this week the latter two were the questions I struggled with most. But, in a way, I look back at these seven days and see just how much I learned about our Savior, and how much I felt His love.
This week can be summed up in the scripture in the title. I received two letters this week, one of which was from my grandpa. It was short and sweet, and exactly what I needed to hear. He wrote about the account of when the Savior sat back and let his apostles toil all night through a terrible tempest. Quoting my grandpa, "He wanted them to exert all their own energy and reach deep down within themselves to discover strength they never knew they had before he came to their aid. He knew where significant growth was born. But he was always watching them."
How true that is. Growth comes from those moments when elements beyond our control compel us to discover our own strength. There are several more accounts of this: Joseph Smith, as he prayed in the grove of trees, was about to give in to the incredible power of the adversary just as the light appeared. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown into a furnace before they were rescued. Abraham had the knife in his hand and was just about to slay his son before the angel appeared. God will let us toil so we can discover our own strength. He will help us discover our own character through these periods of hardship. And He will step in right when He is needed. But the important thing to keep in mind is that He is always watching us.
Despite the hardship we and our investigators faced this week, I knew God was watching, because of all the tender mercies that I saw every day. Every day, at the peak of our discouragement, God blessed us with a tender mercy. They ranged from something as simple as a beautiful sunset or a cool breeze to people signing up to feed us dinner last minute, or someone letting us into their home, or members who just so happened to run into us at Pizza Hut and paid for our bill without our knowledge. At least once a day, we met someone who made my day in some little way. There was Evangeline, an adorably Spanish lady who let us in because she thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses. But when she found out we were Mormons she still listened to our message and gratefully accepted a Book of Mormon. There was Matt, whose family has been struggling, who graciously invited us back to see him. There was Debbie, who talked with us on her porch for an hour about Mormons and what we believe, and how she would love to learn more. There were the Curtis's, a nice older couple who cried as we prayed for them, and said one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard for us. There was a nice young woman, Angela, who gratefully accepted a prayer and thanked us profusely, saying it made her day and that she wanted us to come back. There was Emma, who didn't have much time to speak with us, but still happily invited us into her home and prayed with us. She listened as we taught her some brief points of our unique message, and she was so interested she talked about how she may even become a Mormon herself. She said she wanted us to teach her everything we know about our religion, and she would love it if we could teach her whole family.
And even now, after writing that paragraph, I feel so much better. It's incredible to see that no matter how dark it gets, if we focus on the positive, and pay attention to the tender mercies the Lord blesses us with each day, we can still find happiness and joy in the journey. I told my family this last night, but life is like a heart monitor. You know the person is alive when you see all the ups and downs. You never want to see it go flat.
I also want to pull a few quotes from a letter I received a year ago from a very dear friend of mine. He wrote about the miracle of the Atonement. When we are at our lowest, this is the time for which Christ suffered, so that we might never be alone in our afflictions. He walked the path utterly alone so that we would not have to. And through Christ we can find joy as exceeding as our pain, just as Alma did. Everything we are given--experiences, trials, sufferings--are all to help us become more like the Savior. And there is nothing we cannot overcome because there is nothing Christ could not overcome. He descended below all things. And when He asks us to make sacrifices, there is always a reason for it. When we sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and succumb to the will of God, we will receive something so much better that we could not have received before.
Last thought comes from district meeting this week on battling discouragement. I think I have said this before, but there is a connection between faith in ourselves and faith in Jesus Christ. When we doubt ourselves, or our futures, we doubt the Savior and His plan for us. Christ will never, ever create feelings of discouragement or inadequacy. Don't you believe God knows you have potential? That you have traces of the divine and celestial in you? Do not doubt God's plan for you, or for your loved ones. Through Christ, all things are possible. Disappointments come, but we must take the assurance that God is making a masterpiece out of us, and the ones we love, through the enabling power of His Son's infinite atonement.
Just a couple scriptures to look up on your own that also stood out to me this week: Alma 31: 31-35, 38 and D&C 123:16-17.
I hope you all know how much I love you, and how much I love missionary work. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the best decision I've ever made. Each moment, whether it be good or bad, becomes precious as it enables me to draw closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Words cannot adequately explain the happiness that comes from completely devoting all my time, talents, and energy to the service of my Savior, who suffered beyond all comprehension out of His infinite love for me and all of God's children. You are all in my prayers, and I thank you all for the prayers in my behalf. They lift me up every day, and your support means the world. Until next week!
-Sister Fox

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Develop a Backbone, not a Wishbone

Family! Friends!

Why, hello there! It's Monday again? Where did this week even go? I do not know the answer to that. But no matter. This week was weird. I don't even know what really happened. We had some good things. And some bad things. Yet every day felt like a joyful journey. That is a tender mercy. I think a big part of why every day feels like a joyful journey is because of my awesome companion. Sister Mortensen truly is awesome. She keeps me laughing, and she is always willing to get out and work, even if we are having bad days. She certainly keeps me going! She's just the best. We're totally getting this unity thing down too! We're finishing each other's thoughts, and saying the exact same thing, at the same time, with the same voice inflection. Once you start sharing brainwaves you know you've got unity down. It's pretty cool.
So, I thought I would start out this email with a joke that I heard at Stake Conference. There were two men, Ben and George, who liked to compete with each other. Everything to them was a competition. One day Ben told George, "Every morning when the sun comes up, I drive around the perimeter of my property, and I don't get home until the sun goes down." George replied, "Every morning when the sun comes up, I start driving around the perimeter of my property, and when the sun goes down, I have only gotten halfway around it." Ben replied, "Yeah, I used to have a truck like that."
Oh! Here's another one! Why did the chicken cross the road?
To show the possum it could be done.
That one I find particularly funny, but maybe you just have to be a missionary in Tennessee.
Speaking of being a missionary in Tennessee, I thought I would share a few thoughts about what my mission is doing to me. Firstly, I have an intense desire to learn to play the banjo. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. I really really want to take banjo lessons. In fact, Sista M and I just went into a music store lined with banjos all around the walls. It kind of reminded me of Stranger Than Fiction, but Tennessee style. It was cool! We took pictures. Maybe I'll send a few. Also, I have developed a taste for bluegrass music. You think I'm kidding. Still not. But you listen to "Man of Constant Sorrows" and tell me that bluegrass can't be super catchy. That song gets stuck in my head all the time! And I'm starting to adore country music. My Nashville C.D. is my favorite one to listen to (Thank you Thomas!). And I get giddy when I see sidewalks. I also never want to own a chihuahua. Ever. And sometimes I get a little nervous while tracting because everyone seems to have baby angel statues in their yard. Everyone. You would be nervous too if you watched Season 4 of Doctor Who before leaving on your mission. So . . . yeah.
I feel like I'm sinking more and more into Southern culture every day down here. I absolutely love it! I just love the people down here. I love everyone with whom I come in contact. That's the wonderful blessing of being a missionary--an increase in your capacity to love. I've only been out in the field for 3 months, but I can say that Tennessee will always be a really big part of who I am. I can't say enough how much I love it here!
Random side note, I watched the CES fireside last night and saw Kevin and Thomas in the choir! I got super excited; I think I might have startled Marlene. I just get super excited about these things. :) It was cool to see you two!
So, my week. This week was a whole lot of tracting. But we had some pretty good experiences! There was one time in particular, Sister Mortensen and I found ourselves at the bottom of a hill as we were tracting. We looked to the left and to the right and found out that whichever way we decided to go, we would have to go uphill. So we went tracting. In the rain. Uphill. Both ways.
But in all seriousness, we did have some neat experiences! Yesterday we had one of those "just one more door" moments. We had been tracting for over an hour and it was time for dinner. Sister Mortensen wanted to knock on just one more door, so we did. We met a really nice woman who had a death in her family just the day before. She got really emotional when we told her we wanted to pray with her. She didn't accept our message, but she was super sweet, and she said the prayer really helped her feel at ease. It's a seed planted, and I felt the assurance that God sent us to her to ease her pain. It was a neat experience. We had a similar experience just a few doors before, when we met a man who had been facing several challenges in his family. He also gratefully accepted a prayer and invited us back. It was cool to see this week how we seemed to find people just at the moment they needed us most. It goes to show that God answers prayers, and He knows exactly what we need exactly when we need it. From tracting we were able to find 4 new investigators this week, and we're excited to start working with them!
It's just amazing to see, in only three months, how much my mission has changed me already. I feel like a completely new person. Back home I was so shy and was anything but bold when it came to talking to strangers. Now God has granted me the confidence I have needed to approach perfectly random strangers and testify of the Gospel. I've noticed that sometimes, in the moment, we can't tell how much we have progressed. There were a few days this week when I looked at myself and thought, "You're not bold enough. You need to try harder, you're not growing at all." But then I looked back and saw just how far I came. It's like climbing a mountain. Sometimes you can only see the trail ahead, and it's steep and slow, but once your view clears and you look back, you can see just how far you've come. Sometimes we need to be more patient with ourselves and our growth. Dramatic changes don't happen overnight, it takes just one step at a time.
Anyway, here is an update on the work in the Pleasant Ridge North area! Like I said at the beginning of the email, we had some good things and some not so good things. This week was potentially discouraging, due to ignored phone calls, dropped appointments, and rejections. But I realized that's normal. I truly began to understand diligence this week. When we are diligent, we may face disappointments, but we're not disappointed in ourselves. So even though we experienced disappointments with trying to visit countless investigators and less-actives, I wasn't disappointed in myself. And that helped me find joy in the journey.
There are a lot of people I wish I could give updates for. All y'all are probably just as curious as I am to see how certain individuals are progressing, but we haven't been able to get a hold of just about anyone: Crystal, Rhonda, Casey, Brandon, Brittany, the list goes on. Sometimes people just drop off the face of the planet, or they're just not ready to meet with you yet. What keeps me going is the knowledge that God loves them even more than I do, and they are in good hands.
So, now for the good news! Good news is, we got to teach Kathy and Jerry a ton this week! Kathy seems to be recovering from her surgery, though we still haven't received an update on the stage of her cancer. She is really progressing in the Gospel; we finally re-committed her for baptism May 18th! We're still working with Jerry. He knows it's true, he just struggles with the idea of getting baptized again. He doesn't quite believe he needs to. And though we've explained priesthood power several times and in several different ways, we think he just needs to develop his own testimony of it at this point. It will take some time, but he is progressing. Kathy is such a sweetheart. She made the best barbecue ribs for us that I have ever had, and we sat out on her patio and talked about the Gospel. She said something that was really touching to me. She said how attached she was to the elders, but now she has grown attached to us, and she said, "See, and now you don't even miss your families because you have us!" Now of course I miss my family, but it is through people like Kathy that I feel the love and comfort that I felt at home. Homesickness doesn't bother me because I have developed deep and loving friendships with the people here in Tennessee. I just love Kathy to pieces, and we are so excited to see her progress toward baptism!
Guess what else?? The Church is true and God answers prayers! Guess what happened yesterday? There's only one minute left in my brain. Time is running out! Guess . . . guess! (Sorry, Kid History withdrawals) Caitlyn came to church!! Her boss gave her Sunday morning off!!! HOORAH FOR ISRAEL! This girl is so golden. You don't understand. She is so ready for baptism; we went through all the interview questions with her, and she is so ready. She just needs to come to Church twice. She thought she would have to work 10 to 7 Sunday, but she didn't have to work until 3!! So she came to Church!! And loved it! Sister Mortensen and I did another little victory dance. She just needs to come one more time and she can finally be baptized!! Hopefully her schedule will allow her to come to Church every Sunday! Yay!
Marty had his interview this week and is ready for his baptism as well! Except they want to push it back to the 18th because they have family that will be in town that weekend. Oh well. If missionary work teaches you anything, it teaches you patience! Travis will probably be baptized the same day as Marty, and we're excited for both of them! We're still working on Sheila. Sadly we didn't get to see her at all this week, but we're still praying for her!
That's pretty much all the updates I have on the Clinton area. The work is slowing down a bit, but I still love it out here! I know my first transfer was pretty rare with all the success we saw, and now it's getting back to normal, but that doesn't mean I'm not still having fun!
I suppose I will share a few thoughts from Stake Conference before I close this letter. Because if I don't explain the title it would be confusing. The main theme of this Stake Conference was "rescuing the rising generation." There was one talk in particular that really stood out to me. He talked about how the rising generation is in danger of feeling entitled to the world and everything the world has to offer. The thing that stood out to me most was when he said, "develop a backbone, not a wishbone." Too often people tend to sit back in the shade and start wishing their circumstances were different without the intent to do anything about it. The world cannot be handed to us on a silver platter, we have to get up and work for what we want. I felt that ring true to me just this week. It's certainly typical of a missionary to wish for success, though sometimes we fall into the lazy trap and hope for investigators to fall into our laps. But we have to work for them! We have to get out there and find them. Sometimes that means knocking on doors for several hours every day. But God will reward our efforts. God blesses us according to our faith, heed, and diligence. The same principle rings true to life. We have to do our best, and leave the rest to God. But change won't happen until we get up and work for it.
Another thing that really hit me was when he talked about the importance of forgetting ourselves and focusing on others. He said that most of the problems involving low self-esteem and depression in teenagers can be resolved by serving others. He said this was by divine design. That hit me; I had never thought about that before. It's so true though. When we turn outward instead of inward, we are so much happier. Surely God made things that way on purpose? I can bear testimony to the fact that you feel much more confident about yourself when you serve the people around you. Confidence in yourself comes from confidence in Christ, and confidence in Christ is manifested by how much you emulate His love. Self-esteem/confidence = Charity. Food for thought!
Well, that's it for this week! I hope everyone is doing well back home. Thank you so much for your letters, your prayers, and your support. I just love you all so much! You're all the best! I attribute the missionary I am to all of you and everything you have all done for me. Talk to y'all on Mothers' Day! Love yeuns! (Yes I just used that word. Get over it.)
-Sister Fox

Sunday, May 5, 2013

And Then There Were Two


Hello there! It's Monday again, and sadly today I only have an hour, so it's a really good thing I type an average of 110 wpm. Because I have lots to say.

First I have just one request: I want pictures! Of basically everyone. Everything, everyone. I want pictures of my nephew, and pictures of my family and fun things they're doing, and maybe pictures of my friends because I have a surprising lack of those, and Chelise, you know who I want pictures of. I bought a shiny new photo album! But there aren't very many pictures in it. I didn't bring very many. Thank you Marissa for sending me some!!

So, this week was just plain weird. Sister Stone was transferred Wednesday morning, and Sister Mortensen and I have been out on our own. We both just finished our training, so now we are doing our best to figure things out. Things are going really well though! The first thing we did is purchase a GPS. You would too if you had to navigate this state. No mountains, no numbers, just winding street names. And the street names change right in the middle of the street. You think I'm kidding. We named our GPS Lia (short for Liahona. I know. We're so clever), and renamed our car Nephi. It makes us happy inside.
I absolutely love Sister Mortensen! It's so much easier to click with companions when there are only two of you instead of three. These past few days have been a blast getting to know eachother better, and we have hit it right off. We're always laughing and having fun together, and she's a real powerhouse. I was impressed by how assertive she has been the past few days; she's a fantastic missionary. I'm excited to take on this area with her this transfer!

I thought I would begin this email with a few quotes. We had two absolutely hilarious dinner appointments, with two different families with tons of kids. Here is how the first dinner appointment went with the Rose family:

4 year old girl: (incredulously) Are you *real* missionaries?
me: Yes, we're real live missionaries.
4 year old: Boy missionaries are real missionaries.

9 year old girl: I love sister missionaries! I've never met them. But they've always been my favorite.

6 year old boy: How old are you?
9 year old girl: Don't ask that, that's rude!!
Me: It's ok, I'm 20 and she's 19.
9 year old girl: Well, you *look* really young.

6 year old boy: My name is Parker!
Sis M: Really? The town I'm from is named Parker! You must be named after it or something!
8 year old boy: I'm named after a prophet!
6 year old boy: Prophet of the United States??

6 year old boy: Are you mommies?
Sis M: Heavens, no!
9 year old girl: Do you even like boys?
Me: Well, I have a boyfriend on a mission in Argentina.
9 year old girl: OooOOOoo

And dinner at the Moberly family:

5 year old boy: Do carrots have lungs?
7 year old boy: No vegetables have lungs. Except meat . .."

7 year old boy: A bun . . .is a cow . . .with two breads on it.

7 year old boy: A heart isn't really heart shaped, it's more of a squooshy circle.

4 year old girl: *carrying a piece of string* It's a puppy! Pet it! Ooh it's so cute!

Kids. Aren't they the cutest?

So I guess this week's email will basically consist of updates on the investigators we were able to work with this week. We had a pretty good week! First of all, Sister Mortensen and I have done a ton more tracting. Sister Stone never really liked it, so I only went about 5 or 6 times my first two transfers. Sister Mortensen and I want to do it a lot more often, so we're trying to go almost every day. We've had all sorts of fun adventures so far! I am pleased to announce that I pet a possum. This is a vital part of the Tennesseean experience. It was a little baby possum that one of our potential investigators had rescued. It was actually a cool experience, we knocked on her door and offered to share a prayer with her. She said she really needed someone to pray for her family, so we prayed with her on her doorstep for her family, and she was in tears by the end. She said she really needed that. We told her we were missionaries and wanted to share a message with her, and she invited us back! We're going to go back Tuesday. Sis M really wants to hold her baby possum. I do too, actually. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually get to hold a possum! That would make my life.

This week we were able to see Travis for a short while. His whole family put together a huge dinner to see Sister Stone off. Travis is progressing really well! When we saw him he said he was having a rough time giving all of his drugs up cold turkey, and he had purchased a box of cigarettes. But, after talking to him for a few minutes, he threw them in the trash! We were so proud of him! He then allowed us to break them. It was actually really entertaining. We even got pictures! We're so excited for him and Angel! They are going to be married this weekend and will be baptized next weekend with Marty! Happy day! Happy missionary. =D

We also got to see Caitlyn this week. She is also progressing really well; she has been reading her Book of Mormon and she really wants to go to church. Unfortunately her boss keeps giving her ridiculous hours to work on Sundays. We told her the story of Esther and talked about how she was able to obtain the courage to approach the king uninvited after her people had fasted and prayed for her. We told her approaching her boss would be difficult and she would need to take a leap of faith, but we would all pray for her. Hopefully she will be able to approach her boss this week and ask for Sundays off. We're praying for her! She needs to come to church!!

Speaking of coming to church, guess who we FINALLY got to church this week? Kathy and Jerry!! There was much rejoicing. Sister Mortensen and I even did a little dance in the foyer. They have been wanting to come to church the past three weeks, but something always comes up in their family that keeps them from going. We visited them Saturday night and by divine intervention, their four year old grandson was there. The secret to getting people to church is actually getting to the kids. Jerry said they wouldn't be able to come because they had to take care of their grandson. So we turned to their grandson and asked, "do you want to go to church tomorrow? You will get to be with a lot of other kids, and sing, and pray . . " "Sing?? I wanna go! I wanna go! I wanna sing!!" That did it. Brilliant. He ran to Kathy and started begging her to take him to church the next day. It was the cutest thing I think I've ever seen. She promised him she would, and he got super excited! If I had a nickel for every time he said, "I'm goin'?" I think I could pay off the rest of my mission. He kept begging her for about 30 minutes even after she said yes, and wanted to leave right at that moment. We had to keep telling him we wouldn't go until the next day, but I'm not sure he truly understood the "tomorrow" concept, because apparently he thought we went to church without him when we left their house.

Kids. Aren't they the cutest?

So, naturally, we saw Kathy, Jerry, their four year old grandson, and their 16 year old grandson at church the next day. Score.

This area is still thriving! The elders are doing a fantastic job in the southern areas of the ward, and they are reaping investigators left and right! Together, we have about 5 or 6 baptisms planned for May 11th. The missionaries in our adjacent area also have about 5 or 6 baptisms lined up for May 11th, so we're hoping to see about 10 to 12 people be baptized next week! I just love this gospel. The Church is true!!

Well, those were the highlights of my week. Sister Mortensen and I are really excited to see what's in store this next week!

Thank you so much for all your prayers, your love, and your support. I hope you all know I am always praying for my family back home. You are all the greatest! I love you all so much!!

Quick spiritual thought before I sign off:

Yesterday Sister Mortensen and I were discussing true discipleship as part of our companionship study yesterday. I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a true disciple. In Relief Society we were discussing what it means to be in the world, but not of the world. The mission has put that in a completely new perspective for me. We are in the world, but we are so separated from the world. Everything we do, every thought, every action, is focused on doing God's work. We center our lives in Christ and strive to help others do the same. Now we don't all have to live a missionary lifestyle to be in the world, but not of the world. But we should all do a little bit of soul-searching. What, or who, is at the center of our lives? Is Christ a big part of our lives, or is He at the very center? Sometimes we tend to put our religion on the backburner. We'll say our prayers, we'll read our scriptures, but then we'll go out and spend time on trivial things. Are we really centered on Christ? Are we devoting our time and talents to building up His Kingdom? Christ devoted His entire life to doing His Father's will. That's what life is about. That's why we're here. We are here to make it back to God, and to help our brothers and sisters do the same. What are we doing each day to help bring about this purpose? Food for thought!
Also, read Romans 8. It's a fantastic chapter.

Love you all! Until next week,

-Sister Fox