Hello Family and Friends!!
I kept trying to think of a clever title as I tried to compose this email. But there's this little yellow box in the corner of my screen counting down the seconds. And I don't have enough seconds to be clever right now. So that explains the title.
Hello! I felt like I just wrote y'all an email! Cuz. . . I did! And it actually hasn't been that eventful since Wednesday. But I'll try to keep this entertaining. Another reason why I couldn't think of a clever title; I can't think of something in particular that has characterized my week. But anyway.
So, Tennessee gets tons of rain and flash floods a lot. And every time it pours I think, "Wow. Utah just doesn't understand what rain and floods really are." And then I got tons of emails just barely talking about what's going on in Utah. It's crazy to hear about all the flooding! Last year it was fire, this year it's floods. Sounds like baptism backwards. Anyway, Utah will be in my prayers! I hope none of the damage is too extensive.
Do you know what struck me as odd this week? The necessity of rearranging schedules and plans to purposely avoid family members. Having Chelise in the Stake is the funniest thing! I cannot tell you how many narrow misses there have been already. Saturday we did our first exchange with the Watauga Sisters, who cover parts of Johnson City, Elizabethton, and Erwin. Because they're kind of far away we asked them to find members to drive us back to Kingsport Saturday night. They asked their Ward Mission Leader to find someone, and he volunteered himself. But he has to have a female with him due to mission rules. So he said he would love to do it, he would just bring a friend. When he asked who he would be picking up, and Sister Ison told him "Me and Sister Fox." He paused. "You mean Sister Fox . . ? Like . . Chelise's sister? Because . . that's who I was planning on bringing."
We found someone else to drive us back to Kingsport. It's the funniest thing! We're doing our exchange with the Johnson City sisters on Tuesday, and we had to rearrange our schedule so I wouldn't end up going to institute and running into Chelise. It's no inconvenience at all, it just strikes me as funny. What also strikes me as funny is that the common phrase "You're Chelise's sister!" that I used to hear all the time on BYU campus has carried over into the mission field. Now I just get it from missionaries who have run into Chelise.
We are Tennessee now. :)
I told President Irion via email that Chelise is here and that we have already had one accidental encounter. His email back was three words long: "That is crazy!" So . . . I guess he doesn't seem to mind. Which is good, because I certainly don't mind either! =D
Anyway. Long tangent. I s'pose I'll tell y'all about my week! Tuesday, as I mentioned in my last email, was Mission Leadership Conference, and it was fantastic. We discussed how we could increase our effectiveness in our finding efforts, how elders and sisters can work together in unity, how we can better develop Christlike attributes, and how we can influence the missionaries to develop a greater sense of urgency and diligence for the work. I heard a definition of diligence that I've shared before, but I love it so much I'm gonna share it again. Diligence is the ability to do, in our moment of weakness, what we set out to do in our moment of strength. As a missionary I have felt this all the time. In a moment of strength we accepted the call from the Lord. We got on the plane and entered the field. Now, throughout the slow days, the rejection, the disappointment, and the trials, we need to be diligent. When we are feeling exhausted, beaten down, broken, and discouraged, we choose to keep going. I love that diligence is mentioned in Preach My Gospel as a Christlike attribute. He was the perfect example of diligence. During moments of greatest weakness and agony, He still finished the work He set out to do. No matter the difficulty, the temptation, and the trial, He did His Father's will. That's what we are all asked to do. In our moments of weakness, when it seems almost impossible to do the will of God, we must be diligent. As we choose to move forward, we are promised angels on our right and on our left. I believe that it is not only faith, but diligence also, that precedes the miracle.
We also received a fantastic training on how to use the Book of Mormon in our teaching. It truly is the keystone of our faith. Every claim we make as a Church hinges on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. That is why we must all develop a sound testimony of the Book of Mormon. Any time that my testimony has been targeted and attacked, I have been able to fall back on the Book of Mormon. If that book is true, than every other piece of doctrine the Church teaches is true. And I know it is true with all my heart. It is the convincing evidence of the divinity of our message. All we are asked is to read it, to ponder it, and to pray about it. With these simple steps, we can know of a truth that is so precious it will bless our lives now and in the eternities. This promised knowledge is an amazing gift! And the way to obtain it is so simple! How blessed we are to have the Book of Mormon!
So here is my challenge I want to issue this week. Take on Moroni's promise and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. You don't have to read the whole book start to finish this week. Just read it and pray about it. If your testimony is shaking in any area, with any doctrine that the church teaches, fall back on the Book of Mormon. If that book is true, that's all that matters. If you already have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, pray about it anyway. Faith has a short shelf life; we must continue to act on it to keep it alive. And I promise you that as you read the Book of Mormon you will draw closer to Jesus Christ. That is one of the primary purposes of the Book of Mormon. 2nd Nephi 25:26 - Christ is the center of our message. I went through and marked all the references to Christ in the Book of Mormon at the beginning of my mission and it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. It truly testifies of Christ on almost every page! I know it to be true.
I wasn't actually planning on that tangent, but, y'all know how missionaries are. They love tangents!
Thursday we met a new investigator! Her name is Mary. She was a referral from another member, and when we met her, she spilled her whole story. She is going through a lot right now, and I am impressed with her faith. She asked for a blessing, which she received from the elders on Saturday (sadly I wasn't there because I was in Watauga). She loves the spirit that we bring and she wants to learn more! So we'll be going back to teach her! Woohoo!! The church is true!
Saturday we exchanged with Watauga (as I've said many times). I got to spend the day with Sister Ison, who is a firecracker! I was really impressed with her leadership and her love for her area. I think I learned more from her in that 24 hours than she learned from me. This is the best calling ever; I feel a little spoiled even. I get to meet and learn from so many sisters, and I get to meet all their investigators! We got to work with several incredible people on Saturday. They have several investigators with baptisms coming up in the next few weeks, and their testimonies are so inspiring. I love this work! It is moving forward!!
Speaking of the work moving forward, Debbie is getting baptized this Saturday! She officially went off cigarettes and coffee and she is good to go! She is so solid. I am so proud of her!! I barely know her and yet I love her already. That is the joy of being a missionary.
Last night we got to watch Elder Nelson's broadcast from BYU Hawaii. It was really good; I would like to encourage all the youth to go back and watch it if they haven't seen it already. He asked a really profound question, "What are you doing right now to prepare for your personal interview with the Savior?" That is something we can keep in mind in our daily activities. Are we anxiously engaged in a good cause? Could we be going about doing more good? That is something all of us should ponder and pray about in preparation for this upcoming General Conference. Elder Nelson already hinted at some things that will be addressed, and I have the feeling that each of us could be doing some introspection to see where we are in our personal preparation, and what we could do each day to bring us closer to the Savior. Food for thought!
Well family and friends, that's all I have for this week. I love all y'all so much! You are all in my prayers! Until next week,