Hello friends and family!Well, here I am in the West Hills North area. I am probably 10 minutes from my last area, so it's kind of weird. But I'm still in a completely different zone, so I will be seeing a lot of new faces. This email may sound a little scattered, because the stress that comes from training, transfers, and whitewashing kind of makes all the days blend together. It was a really good week though! So this is gonna be good.
and Tuesday were spent saying goodbye to some of my favorite people in the universe. It was super hard to say goodbye to Larry and Marlene. I would say they were probably the hardest. They have become my second set of parents, and I have grown so attached to their family. I am so excited to come back and visit though! It will happen. And it will be fantastic. :)
Tuesday we had an awesome lesson with Patrick. It had been a couple weeks since we had seen him, but we were able to go over the first half of the Plan of Salvation. I loved seeing his face light up as we testified of the peace and the healing that can come through Christ's atonement. He wants change in his life so badly. He had actually been praying 3-4 days before we showed up. He said he felt stuck in his life and had no idea what to do. He wanted guidance. Just a few days later, guess who knocked on his door?? Coincidence? I think not!! We also committed him to be baptized! It'll be sad to miss that one. I have absolute confidence that Sister Mortensen will do a great job seeing that through, though.
Wednesday we got up early and headed to our leadership training meeting at . There we learned principles of effective training and then we were assigned to our "goldens." You may be wondering why we call them Goldens. Well, the term "greenie" is a bit derogatory. And these new missionaries truly are Golden. They are fresh out of the MTC, with fresh views and ideas on missionary work, and they are so ready to do the Lord's work. I was actually slightly terrified of training, but my fears vanished when Sister Paxton stood up with a huge grin on her face and immediately started talking about how excited she was that I was her trainer. Who am I kidding? I don't need to train Sister Paxton; she came pre-trained! It has only been a few days, but I feel like she's training me more than I'm training her. She is super enthusiastic about the work, and she is a really hard worker. I never thought I would have a missionary beg me to go out and proselyte. It's true; it happened! Every after transfers we have a Zone Meeting, and that is followed by an hour long activity. She didn't want to stay for the activity; she just wanted to get out and work! So we left early and went to work. She reminds me of Elder Calhoun from Best Two Years, minus the nerdiness. She came out ready to go! And it has been go-go-go ever since.
I just love Sister Paxton! She's super cute. And she looks exactly like Anne Hathaway. If you don't believe me, look at the picture of us on the mission blog. True story. It's amazing how alike we are! For example, we both love peanut butter. I kid you not; we have 4 jars that each serve a different purpose. She has one she eats out of with a spoon, and so do I. Then we have one jar that we share when we make sandwiches. And then we have a backup jar for our sandwich jar when that runs out. Yeup. That's the life.
Wednesday afternoon through today is all kind of a blur. We have been doing a TON of tracting. West Hills North is a beautiful area and has an incredible ward. I have never seen a ward that is so focused on missionary work. We are fed every night and members come out and work with us every day. The only problem is . . .no investigators. You win some, you lose some. No area is perfect I guess. It was a hard transition to go from my last area, where we had 4 baptismal commitments and about 10 investigators, to this area, that has 1 progressing investigator. But! That's what we're here for! Sister Paxton and I are bound and determined to pick this area back up, and we have been tracting pretty much all day to pick up new investigators. We've met quite a few people with a lot of potential, so we are hoping to get the ball rolling! It kind of feels like being back in square one all over again, but we're excited to see the miracles that will occur here. It'll pick up, I just know it will!
But, as I said, we have one progressing investigator, and she is absolutely golden. Her name is Cheryl, and she originally came in contact with the church because of a school project. She wanted to learn more about the LDS church to help her with her research, but then she started gaining a testimony of its truth. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and is pretty much on board for baptism. She really wants this. The trick is getting her husband on board. He is a great man with an open mind, but his family is strong in the Catholic faith, and he's afraid of upsetting them. But once we get him on board, Cheryl will happily be baptized. Prayers on her and her husband's behalf will be much appreciated!!
Sister Paxton and I were on fire. We tracted for 2 1/2 hours straight in the hot Tennessee sun. But, it was so productive! We picked up 3 new investigators, and we're hoping these ones will really progress. Sometimes it's hard to tell what their commitment is when you first meet them, but we're hoping their doors are still open to us!
Poor Sister Paxton had to experience her first bible basher though. It was only her second day! That kind of surprised me, because it took me 3 transfers to meet my first bible basher. This one was a lot more cordial than the last one, though. These people are just funny. They always quote that same scripture in Revelations. Yes, that one. And no matter what you say to refute it, they'll ignore your rebuttal and throw something else at you, sometimes entirely unrelated. But, as we all know, the spirit of contention is not of Christ, but is of the adversary. So, instead of arguing, we testify. Which, I have seen, just makes these people angry. Go figure. Some hearts aren't ready, and some simply cannot be convinced. But it makes me all the more happy when I meet a heart that's open and ready. That seems to have happened a few times this week, and we're excited to teach those who have been prepared to receive the Gospel. Some people give you a hard time, some people give you an easy time, but all of it is a joyful experience when you keep your purpose in mind, and that is to invite others to access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As long as we are doing God's work, we are happy. Missionary work is so hard, beyond what words can describe. But it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done, and a decision I will never regret.
Chapter of the week is Moroni 7. I feel like it's really fitting when talking about those who judge us and refuse to listen because they think we're children of the devil. This chapter outlines perfectly the righteous way to judge. If it invites us to do good and to love God, it is inspired of God. Plain and simple. I think this is a great outline to go by when we have to make judgments about anything or anyone. It's not about where "the line" is. It's about who is making the offer. Take media for example. There are some perfectly good movies out there that are tainted by a few select scenes and words. But the rest of the movie is good. Does that make it justifiable to watch? Does it invite us to do good and to love God? Who is offering us this material? Is God offering it to us? Or the Adversary? How do we know? By the fruit. Food for thought. :)
So many people will believe the Adversary is the one offering them the Book of Mormon. It's crazy what kind of rumors spread out here, and how repulsed some people are when they see us carrying the Book of Mormon around. But the way for them to know who offers it is to experience how the Book of Mormon can bring them closer to Christ. That is what marks us as representatives of Jesus Christ; our desire to help others draw closer to Christ as well as our own desires to draw closer to Him. If you want to draw closer to Him, lay hold upon every good thing, and you will find His presence stronger in your lives. That's a promise.
The second half of the chapter about how faith, hope, and charity all relate is also inspiring. That chapter tells us step by step how to strengthen our faith and increase our hope. It's one of my favorites! That's going on the memorization list. After I finish Moroni 10. :)
Well family and friends, I guess it's time to close this letter. This one seems a little shorter. But like I said before, this week was a complete blur. It was really good though! The initial stress of training and whitewashing has pretty much dissipated, and now we're doing all we can to pick this area up. I love my companion, I love this ward, and I love this area. So no need to worry; I am happy and well! I love you all so much, and I appreciate your support, your letters, and your prayers. I hope y'all have an excellent week, and know I am always praying for all y'all!