Missions rock!! They're hard. They're emotionally and physically taxing. They're exhausting. They sometimes want to make you throw heavy glass objects at the wall just so you can have the satisfaction of watching something shatter. But, at the end of the day, there's still that little hint of satisfaction deep within you that loves being in the service of God. And there's also that little hint of sadness knowing that you are one day closer to the end of your mission. Even amidst all all the difficulty and frustration, I can say that I love it here. Missions rock. True story.
No, I've never thrown a heavy glass object at the wall. I've entertained that thought from time to time though. I did break our portable DVD player. That was an accident. Promise!
Just a quick note, I am feeling so much better. I felt happy and healthy all week! And Mom, thank you for the package!!! The skirt fits. :) The bread is delicious! Love you lots!
Time is kind of short today, so I will try to fit in as much as possible! Ready . . . set . . type!!
Ok. . We went to lunch with the assistants again, and we went to Wasabi, a place that is exactly like Tepanyakki (or however you spell it). It was delicious! It was entertaining to watch too. Today we're going to Olive Garden! The assistants spoil us. I love being in an area close by!! They're awesome. We're going with the zone leaders too. Makes me feel all important inside.
Tuesday we went to see Maryann again and we read from the Book of Mormon with her. She's doing great! She was just invited to a temple prep class, and she's working on some names to take to the temple to do baptisms in September!! Hooray!! We're so excited for her!!! She's so solid. Tuesday night we say Haney. I learned how to spell his name!! It's actually Genny. Who knew? I can't read Venezuelan. Anywho. He's starting to progress! He has been reading the Book of Mormon a little bit, and he's thinking about coming to church! He's pretty much a dry Mormon. He agrees with everything we say, and his heart is wide open. I love people like him! He fed us this week too! He makes really tasty Hispanic food. Not Americanized Hispanic, but real Hispanic food. It was so good! He loves having us over. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he agreed with basically all of it. We just need to get him to church! And we need to get him with a baptism date. That's the goal for the week!
we had no appointments. What do you do on those days? Pray and act. We decided to go look up some potential investigators, and the first one we tried wasn't home. We didn't want to blow all the miles on our car, so we decided to do what we like to call a "faith in five." We knock on the doors of 5 neighboring houses. There was a convenient little culdesac right where we were! Nifty. 3rd door we knock on we meet Glenda. I'm so used to saying this, it has become a recitation almost, "Hi, we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and we're here to leave His peace and blessing . . ." before I could finish, she thanked the Lord and broke down in sobs. Finding Glenda was a miracle. We came right when she needed us; she has been going through some really tough family challenges. She's looking for a place to live and feels completely alone. She knows we were sent by God and she is completely open to hearing our message! We returned with the Relief Society President, who handled everything so perfectly. She offered assistance and bore a powerful testimony. After that we taught Glenda about the Book of Mormon, and she was so touched and excited to have her very own copy. She is so humble and so ready to receive this message. Once again, my heart has been able to feel the immense joy that comes from being an instrument in the hands of God to lift hands that hang down. We were able to restore within her a sense of hope, and a knowledge that she is never alone. God helped us find her, and now she will never be lost or forgotten. We went back to teach her the Restoration and it was the most powerful lesson I have taught on my mission thus far. All of us were in tears by the end, and Sister Paxton invited Glenda to be baptized. "Yes!! When??" was her response before Sister Paxton could finish the question. We set her date for ! She is so ready. She then offered one of the most sincere and heartfelt prayers I have ever heard, and it felt as if every fiber of my soul was on fire. This is why I came out on a mission. To be an instrument in the hands of God and restore hope to those who think all hope is lost. To change lives by helping people receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It changes hearts, it changes lives. I love seeing this happen. Even though moments like this are few and far between, they still keep me going when times are slow and hard. I know hearts are being prepared somewhere. We just need to find them. Finding is the hardest aspect of missionary work. But when we have found them, the feelings of elation go beyond what words can describe.
And that, family and friends, is why missions rock.
And y'all know what? We lost Suellen the same night we committed Glenda for baptism. To me, that timing was a tender mercy. I had the feeling that Suellen was slipping. But I wasn't sad; I felt so much peace knowing that I was doing the work of the Lord. I know we planted a seed in Suellen's heart. God will keep working with her, and one day she'll be ready.
We made a fantastic breakthrough with Chris, too. We went over to help him pack up some of his things. Sadly, he is moving. The good news is, it's only temporary. He found a place to stay in Farragut for the time being, but he's looking at a place to stay in our ward boundaries. Hopefully we'll be able to keep teaching him! I feel like we were finally able to break down some walls. He was really touched by our service, and he felt the spirit really strongly as we taught him the Plan of Salvation. He's progressing! And guess what?? He came to church !!!! Hurrah for Israel!!!! Do y'all know what this means?? This is the first investigator I have had at church in EIGHT. FLIPPIN. WEEKS! Maybe more. I may or may not have done a little victory dance in the foyer. It is so hard getting investigators to church. We have them meet people beforehand so they have friends when they go, we take them on tours, we set up rides, we do everything. And they still don't come! That gets frustrating. But Chris came!! And hopefully next week we can get Glenda to come too!! We don't know what kept her this week. Hopefully we'll see her tonight or tomorrow. Chris loved it! He loved how friendly everyone was and how we treat eachother like family. It was a beautiful testimony meeting too. Everything a testimony meeting should be. Everyone who bore their testimonies talked about what they believed, and it was one of the most powerful testimony meetings I have been to on a Fast . We were so happy Chris could be there! Yay!!
We made a little breathrough with a part member family this week as well! They seemed much more open and friendly, and they agreed that we could come back and teach their family the lessons!! Hooray!! New investigators! I like new investigators.
Last night we taught Daniel again. Do y'all remember him? Maybe this will ring a bell:
That was a fun lesson. I even used Chelise's box analogy a little bit. And now I call him a "box scholar." Ask Chelise if you want to know what that means. Basically he kept trying to deliberate on the historical evidence behind the Book of Mormon. We kept trying to push him to have faith, to pray about it, to seek truth from the Ultimate Source. He would have none of that. He finally said, "I will never consider reading this through if you can't prove that it's true." It was kind of sad to me. He was depriving himself of blessings because he had to see proven evidence.
So, how do you build faith in someone who relies completely on reason and hard evidence? That's a question I still struggle to answer. All I know for sure is, faith is a necessary factor in conversion. In fact, without it, we have nothing. Ether 12:4 teaches us that faith is what anchors us. When the adversary hits us with his hardest blows, the only thing keeping us sure and steadfast is not historical artifacts or the proven evidence of Book of Mormon origins, but our faith in Jesus Christ and the divinity of His great and marvelous latter-day work. There was a night and day difference between teaching him and sitting in testimony meeting. We may not be able to prove it's true. But we have experienced the doctrine. Our spirit has communed with His. We have come to feel that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that the Church is true. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it heal families. I have seen it restore hope to those who thought all hope was lost. I have felt directed and inspired every day. I would not receive this kind of inspiration or direction of this Church is not true, or if this work is not divine. We come to know, through our own experience in planting the seed, nourishing it, and helping it grow, of the truth.
So, how do you build faith in someone who refuses to act? It's hard to come to terms with this as a missionary, but really, you can't. They, ultimately, have to choose to act. They have to take that leap of faith. You can encourage them as much as you can, but the decision is theirs. And if they refuse to make it, you have done all. So we had to say goodbye to Daniel. I hope and pray God will keep working with him. One day I hope he finds the courage to take the leap of faith and learn to trust in God and not reason alone. But I am so grateful for all the people I have met who are willing to put all their faith and trust in God. They are so inspiring. And I am so grateful for this opportunity to be an inspiration to them, and to help them strengthen the faith they already have.
Well family and friends, that is it for now. Thank you so much for your letters, your support, and your prayers. It makes a huge difference. You never know what to expect out here. Some weeks like this one rock, and other ones are really difficult. But every day I feel God's hand in my life, and I see tender mercies all around me. I couldn't be out here without your prayers and support. The bad outnumbers the good, but the good outweighs the bad. And I know as I look back on my mission, though it feels like I'm constantly feeling thorns in my side, I will look back and see nothing but roses.
Love you all! Until next week,