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

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