Monday, October 28, 2013

The MIT

Hello Family and Friends and other Fantastic people!

This week was much better than last, and I'm excited to talk about it. So I'm going to get right to the good stuff. Firstly, funny story/quotes.

So Sister Bedke talks in her sleep too. It was absolutely hilarious; just a few nights ago she got up in the middle of the night, sat up in her bed, and said the Mission Prayer. We say that prayer every morning at 7:30. We call it the Mission Vision; we pray that every companionship will be able to baptize every month (That's our mission vision) and that every missionary will become a Preach My Gospel Missionary. I was surprised at how coherent the prayer was. She didn't remember a thing the next morning. It was so funny! I was dying of laughter as I recounted the story the next day.

Funny quote of the week:
Me: I don't know if this toothpaste actually works (Crest 3D Whitening).
Sister Roundy: Whoooa!!! Your teeth are three-dimensional!!!!!
I love that girl a lot.

Last Monday was good. I sat on the stage and wrote letters as the other missionaries participated in some very violent and dangerous sports (okay so they weren't that bad, but I still can't open my mouth all the way due to the bruise that's still on the side of my head). Today I'm going to pass out on a couch outside the gym because I have a cold and the last thing I want to do is play sports. But that's okay because naps are the next best thing!

Monday night was excellent. After a rough week it was nice to have a family home evening with the bishop's family. We actually had dropped by to just drop off a hose (we used it to wash the car) but Sister Carter invited us in for PMG study and treats. It was just like being home again. A great evening to start out a great week! I love that family a lot.

Tuesday was fantastic!!! I got to meet Elder Corbridge!! And hear him speak for 6 hours!!! Family and friends, it doesn't get much better than that. I've said it over and over, but that man changed my life. He was doing a mission tour this last week, so we got to hear him on Tuesday. And I got to play the piano for it! It was perfectly terrifying, but perfectly awesome all the same! He said it was good. That's so validating. That man is my hero. More on what he talked about at the end of this email. I got to see Sister Stone there! We combined with 3 other zones and she was there! She's going home in 3 weeks. Weird, much? I feel so old! My mom is going home! I just love her so much there are no words to describe it. I would tell y'all to go to her homecoming but she's from Idaho and it's kind of far away. Maybe if she's ever in Utah I'll tell her to come visit y'all.

On the way home from Elder Corbridge's conference we made voice recordings with the Zone Leaders. My favorite was when we sang "When you Believe" from Prince of Egypt chipmunk style. Yes, this is how missionaries entertain themselves when they have to drive for several hours in the car.
Wednesday was pretty good. I went on Exchanges with Johnson City, so I spent the day in Johnson City with Sister Clove. She is so cute, I love her a lot. She works with Chelise a lot, so it was pretty cool to hear about all the missionary things Chelise is doing. So proud! *tear*. I almost met Cynthia, one of the investigators Chelise is working closely with. I'm so sad I didn't get to meet her though! She wasn't home. Maybe someday. It may have been weird for her to meet Chelise's little sister anyway. Who knows? Overall it was a good exchange though. Johnson City is doing some great things right now! And has some perfectly fantastic people in its ward, if I might add.

Friday we had the ward Halloween party and that was pretty fantastic. There were a lot of nonmembers there, and we're about to get a new investigator out of it! Woohoo!! I'm so excited! There were a lot of clever costumes too. I saw a kid who was dressed up like David Tennant. My only regret was that I didn't get a picture with said kid. It was also sad that my companions didn't recognize the costume. One day I will be able to spread the love that is Doctor Who to my companions. One day.

After the Halloween party we had exchanges with Abingdon. I got to work with Sister Avery for the day in Kingsport. It was a good exchange! It started out with a visit to Alicia and her boyfriend, Dee. Alicia is a less-active member, but she wants to get back into church. Dee isn't a member, but he is really friendly and open to learning more. We invited him to take the lessons and he accepted! Woohoo!! They also were going to come to church but couldn't make it. Story of every Sunday. But, one day, we'll have an investigator at Church. I'm just excited we got another investigator to work with! Our investigators kind of dropped off the face of the planet. Every single one of them. But at least we have been doing a lot of good less-active work. That has been productive. Just praying that our investigators will prioritize. Oy.

Saturday we had a little miracle. Sister Lane from our ward ran into a friend at the grocery store a few weeks ago. Her name is Julie, and she has been a member of the church for years, but we don't have her on our records. She found out her address and we were able to go see herSaturday morning. We showed up at the perfect time. She has been going through a lot of tough times with her family, and she had another death in the family this past Tuesday. Poor thing. She wants to get back into Church and she welcomed us with open arms. We were able to say a prayer for her and leave her with an uplifting message. I'm excited to start working with her. Working with less actives has been a newfound joy of mine. It's so great helping people keep the vital covenants they made at baptism. It's just as important as finding new people to teach. I just know that God sent us to her house at the perfect time, and it strengthens my testimony that He always knows our needs.

Saturday afternoon we met with Debbie again, and that was a fantastic lesson, as always. We tried to meet with Pam, but she didn't want to talk to us. She's kind of taken a step backwards in the last few days. Sometimes the work is frustrating. But, it teaches you patience. And heaven knows everybody needs a little patience in their character. We're trying to meet with her tonight, so we'll see how it goes!

Sunday was the Primary Program! I love those!! I haven't seen one in years. There are a ton of kids in this ward, and they are all perfectly adorable. We invited a ton of less actives and investigators to come and watch, but nobody showed up. Sad day. The elders had an investigator there though! They are on fire; they have 5 baptisms lined up right now. Even though our area is kind of slowing down, I'm glad the elders are still adding people to the ward. They certainly deserve it; they are some of the most faithful and hardworking missionaries I've met. And this ward is simply fantastic, they deserve lots of new members!

So, now on to what Elder Corbridge taught us on Tuesday. He had us brainstorm what the most important part of our message is. What is our purpose as missionaries? What is the message? Why should people want to join the church? What is the most important part of the message we bring? We all came up with good things, but nobody hit it. The Most Important Thing is that we can be forgiven of our sins and endowed with power to qualify us for eternal life. We call it the MIT. Everything we teach falls under this statement. This is the purpose of life. We are here to qualify for eternal life. The message we bring to others is that they can be forgiven of their sins. Through priesthood ordinances and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, people can be forgiven of their sins and endowed with power to qualify for eternal life. This is huge! As we teach people, we need to help them come up with that conclusion. Once they've concluded that the MIT is true, they would move heaven and earth to follow God's plan! Just take a look at King Lamoni's father, who was led to ask, "what shall I do that I may inherit this eternal life?" and was willing to give up all of his sins on top of his entire kingdom.Or the 3,000 people in the book of Acts who were led to ask the same question as they were taught about God's eternal plan. If people truly understood the MIT, they would give anything to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This changed my perspective on missionary work entirely. Of course I knew our purpose as missionaries was to help others come unto Christ and partake of salvation, but sometimes as we get too deep into doctrine that focus is blurred. We're here to help people qualify for eternal life. Be it members, nonmembers, or less actives. As I come in contact with anyone, I ask myself, "How can I help this person qualify for eternal life?"

It changed my perspective on life as well. I was thinking about this as we were talking with one of the members this week. She served a mission as well, and she talked about the day she came home from her mission. She woke up in the morning and thought, "Wow. I have nothing of eternal significance to do today." That thought was perfectly daunting to me. But then I realized it doesn't have to be like that. Life gets crazy and we cannot dedicate all our time and attention to building the kingdom, but surely we can do something of eternal significance every day. We should live each day with the MIT in mind. What can we do to qualify ourselves for eternal life today? What treasures are we going to lay up in heaven for ourselves today? What are we going to do today to help someone else prepare to meet God? There is something we can do every day, be it simple or complicated. So when you wake up in the morning ask yourself, "What can I do today that will be eternally significant?" The most important thing to keep in mind each day is the very purpose why we are here. We are here to become like God and help others do the same. Each day is precious. Embrace it!

Well family, that is all for now. It's crazy how quickly that 90 minutes flies. I love you all! Thank you all so much for your prayers and your love!! It means a lot! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let Go, But Don't Quit

Hey Y'all!! 

Do you know what makes me a really happy missionary? Seeing a nice full inbox on a Monday morning after an incredibly frustrating week. Y'all are the best. I just. Love you all lots. You have no idea how much your letters, emails, thoughts, and prayers make a difference. I got a letter this week from someone I barely even knew and I read it over twice because I just love letters so much. A million thank yous to everybody!!! You make this missionary happy!! =D

So. I'm really going to try to keep this positive. But I'm gonna start out with all the not so good stuff so I can end on a happy note. Plus the not so good stuff fits in with my spiritual thought, so these things must be shared.

It all started with Monday. One of the elders wasn't watching where he was going as we were playing sports and ran his elbow into my forehead. Luckily I only escaped with a bruise. But that was the note my week started out on.

One of our investigators has been ignoring us. She wants to attend the ward that's 90 minutes away so she only talks to those sisters and refuses to talk to us. It's good that she and her son want to be baptized, but it's frustrating that she's refusing our help. We went over there for an appointment, and when she found out we were at her house she refused to come home. We sat inside and talked to her daughters for over and hour before we finally decided to leave.

Right before we saw that investigator we were looking for less-actives and came across a very cranky lady. I have never been screamed at like that before. After screaming at us to get off her porch, she practically spat at us, "YOU FOLKS NEVER KNOW WHEN TO QUIT!"

We lost Betty. We texted her to confirm our appointment and she got mad at us for knowing her phone number. I'm pretty sure she gave it to us. She angrily told us never to use it again. What happened I will never know. That lesson was absolutely incredible and now she's barking at us.

We apparently offended Betty's sister as well. She told a member in her apartment complex that she would like a visit from us. We had visited her once before so we went back. We knocked on the door and she basically shut it in our face after explaining to us that she didn't want to see us because apparently we had offended her somehow.

We've been texting one of our less-actives a scripture every night, but she disappeared off the face of the planet and gave her phone to her roommate. Her roommate angrily told us to stop sending her scriptures and accused us of not being Christian.

We went on exchanges this week with someone who was in my first zone. I asked her about some recent-converts in that area. She told me one of my recent converts went off the deep end and left the church. That led to all kinds of personal questions, wondering if we let this person be baptized too early, whether or not this person was ready, what we could have done to make this person want to keep baptismal commitments, etc. Oh heavens.

And that, family and friends, was why this week was frustrating.

BUT.

Missionary work remains to be the best thing in the world. Because the world is still spinning. And the work is still going forward. All these people above don't want to listen. They got annoyed. They got offended. They are refusing help. But that is no reason to believe that the work won't keep moving forward. Missionary work has taught me to let go, but to never quit. Sometimes we offend people. We offend them sometimes because we're human and we make mistakes. Sometimes we offend them by doing something right. But the way they respond is completely up to them. It is so hard watching people you love turn on you and embrace their anger. So you let go. Let go and let God. These people aren't ready to hear the Gospel from us yet. Their hearts aren't ready to be touched yet. Doesn't mean that it will be that way forever. Letting go is a conscious decision. You make the choice in your head, and your heart follows. We are choosing to put their lives into God's hands. All we can do is love them, pray for them, and do what God would have us do. The rest is between them and the Lord. There are some hearts that we just can't touch. There are some wounds we just can't heal. We let go and realize only the Lord can do that. The Lord loves them and desires the best for them. Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved through obedience. All hatred and bitter feelings can be lifted. It can be so discouraging to be in the midst of so much hatred, bitterness, and hurt feelings. But in the end, everything is going to turn out right. We already know this. We're in act 2 of a three-act play. In the end, righteousness will win. God will keep working with these people. So we persevere and endure to the end. We let go, but we never quit. We don't lose hope with these people. We never give up. We keep trying. We never quit. In response to the cranky lady, it's not that we don't know when to quit. It's that we know that we should never quit.

Enduring to the end is more than just having a "grin and bear it" attitude though. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured. There are tender mercies along the way. And now I'm excited to tell y'all about all the tender mercies I saw this week that strengthened my testimony of the divinity of this great and marvelous work.
We finally met Debbie's husband! He is one of the kindest people I've ever met. He is so open and friendly. He is so supportive of Debbie. We didn't make too much headway, but Debbie is going to start inviting him to church every week. I know he will start progressing soon!

We saw Pam this week again. She has been going through a really rough time. Through the Spirit, I gave her the idea of going into a quiet place once a day and pouring her heart out to God. Lay all her burdens at His feet. Then listen and learn what He would have her do. When we went back she had taken my advice and had a really powerful experience with the Spirit. She said it really changed her. She wants to start coming back to Church again!

We saw another Debbie (We're probably working with about 6) this week. We'll call her Debbie H. She hasn't been to church in years. We took our recent convert Debbie (we'll call her RC Debbie) and had an incredible lesson. We shared the story of Peter and how he had the faith to leave the boat in the midst of the winds and the waves to walk toward the Savior. That really struck a chord with her, and she started breaking down and told us why she was afraid to come back to church. RC Debbie really clicked with Debbie H. She has been an answer to so many prayers already! I just love her so much!!

We also finally met an investigator we've been trying to get a hold of since the day we got here. Her name is Kim, and she has seen several sets of missionaries. We were able to hit it off and become friends. She wants to start learning again, but she's not quite ready to be baptized. We'll get her there, though. I know it!
We had a fantastic Relief Society activity on Thursday that was a perfect break from a hard week. We had hot chocolate and sat together on a huge couch and studied our scriptures. That was the best activity ever. I loved learning from everyone's insights and it was good spiritual rejuvenation. Loved it.

District Meeting was fantastic. We learned about patience. Perfect timing! Plus I love my district to pieces. Our zone leaders have a voice recorder too, and every time they get in the car they make a voice recording. When they play it back, they distort the voices so they sound really high-pitched and squeaky. They shared a few of them, and I laughed until I cried. It was the funniest thing ever. There were two other occasions this week when I laughed with my companions until we cried. This week was rough, but we pulled through it together. I love having amazing companions. I learn so much from them and I love how much I can laugh and be silly with them. They make the work that much more fun!

Sydney!!! Sydney Sydney Sydney!! Sydney was our recent convert who texted us about a month ago and said she didn't want to be a Mormon anymore. We had an amazing visit with her on Saturday. It was as if she never left. We had her tell her conversion story and her eyes just filled with light again. She said she missed the Church and that it's the only Church that has ever felt like home. We invited her back and she came!! She showed up yesterday and I almost cried tears of joy. I love her so much! She's about my age. We even got her excited about reading the Book of Mormon! She hasn't really had much desire to yet. She committed to 2 verses a day! It's a start. :)

GLORIA! We've been trying to get a hold of Gloria for weeks and weeks. She is the one we saw the first week I came up to Kingsport who said she wanted to be baptized and quit smoking. She fell off the face of the earth, but we finally caught her at her work yesterday. We were afraid she had turned her heart from the Church. Not so! Her life has just been crazy. But she has been reading the Book of Mormon faithfully every single day, and has been reading the works of Joseph Smith. She looked at us in the eye and said, "It's true; it has to be true." I cried on my way out the door. That moment made the entire week worth it. It's moments like that that fill me with hope. Not every heart is ready to be touched by the gospel, but a lot of hearts are! We just need to find these people. And never ever quit trying!

We had a fantastic lesson with Patty too. Unfortunately she's leaving for an entire month to go spend time with family out of state, but she's strong. She's so close!! We had a lesson about the atonement. We read her Alma 7 and talked about how Christ not only atoned for our sins, but our pains, sicknesses, weaknesses, frustrations, and heartaches. She had never heard that doctrine before. I love teaching this to people. Perhaps no one on this earth understands what they're going through, but Christ does. He knows our hearts inside and out. He knows exactly how to help us. He didn't want us to go through this life alone, and because of His pure, selfless love, we don't have to. So many times this week I found myself casting my burdens at His feet. And although my burdens may be trivial compared to others, He still cares, because He understands. Every time I've prayed I've felt a weight lifted. I have felt God's love for me, His love for the people I love, and even His love for the people who spurned me this week. He will always give us strength when we need it, no matter what we're going through. So cast your burden at His feet. He is waiting there to take it from you, and from those you love. Pray for them. Let go of your burdens, your frustrations, your grudges, your doubts, and your discouragements, and let Christ take them from you. And never quit trying to live each day to the fullest. Through the strength of the Lord we can do all things. I know these things to be true. Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

My family and friends, the Church is true. The Gospel has been restored. It is our light, it is our hope, it is our source of comfort, healing, and happiness. No matter how hard it gets, there is always something to hold on to. Missionary work is the best. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing I've ever done. I love it so much. I love my Savior. I love His Gospel, I love His work. I love you all. God has blessed me with an incredible family and friends who love and support me. I am truly indebted to Him forever. I'm sorry to all those who had rough weeks this week like mine. But things will get better. Things will look up. Let go but don't quit! On to the victory. :)

Lots of love,

-Sister Fox

Monday, October 14, 2013

Enjoy it While it Lasts, Hope for the Best, and Focus

Hey Y'all!! 

It is another gorgeous Monday morning in October and I am a very happy missionary because it's p-day and missionaries are typically happy on days of the preparation variety. And this week just felt good. This week was a normal proselyting week! I haven't seen one of those for a transfer. We didn't have any leadership meetings to be at, no exchanges, and we didn't have to be at the transfer meeting because we weren't gaining/losing anyone in this companionship (Score!!). So we got seven whole days all to ourselves to work in our area!! It felt very productive.

I was going to start this email off with funny quotes but I didn't write any down this week! Just so everyone is clear: we're hilarious. I'm just bad at documenting it. ;) I just love my companions so much! I'm so excited that I get to keep them both for 6 more weeks! Spoiled missionary. :)

Last p-day wasn't really any different from any other p-day; we played more volleyball and tomahawk and it was lots of fun. But it was also kind of sad because it was the last p-day together as a district. They shrunk our district down a lot, sadly. But we'll still have fun volleyball games. That's what matters. ;)

Tuesday we saw Debbie again and I just love her so much I can't even describe it. She's like a second mom to me. I love hearing her story. I don't know if I've told it . . ? She tells it to basically every person she comes in contact with. In case I haven't shared it, here it goes. She had been praying to God for guidance because she felt that something was missing in her life. She knew there was more. Well, two elders knocked on her door and she invited them back. Sadly, when they came back, she was upstairs running the washer and didn't hear them knock at the door. They were at the end of the road by the time she realized she had missed them. When Sister Johnson (My fantastic MTC companion) and Sister Burningham were transferred in, the elders told them to go see Debbie. And they did! They taught her for a while but her life was so crazy she wasn't really getting anywhere. They put her on the backburner for a couple weeks, and then Sister Bedke was transferred in. As they were driving one random day Sister Burningham said, "Stop the car. We need to see Debbie right now." So they did, and she was having a really terrible day that day. She started taking the lessons again and was baptized the second week I was here! And she is so happy. She loves the church so much. We just love her a lot! The Church is true!

Thursday we spent a good portion of the afternoon raking leaves at a widow's house. This week we did a ton of less-active work and visited a lot of widows. I find the testimony of James to be true - pure religion is visiting the widows. I have come to learn really quickly out here that everyone needs help and so many people just feel lonely. It feels so good to sit down and talk with them and provide our service. That visit was particularly enjoyable because I adore fall so much and raking leaves is my all-time favorite chore! We didn't jump in them though. One day.

Friday we finally saw Pam again. We kind of dropped her a month ago because she wasn't keeping her commitments. But she had been driving in the car and listening to a Christian station. A preacher came on the radio and said, "If you want to be right with God, call your friends, and they can help you." She took that as a sign that she needed to talk to us! So she called us up and we set up an appointment. She really wants to get her life in order, and she knows we can help her. It's just a matter of whether or not she's willing to go through all the motions. Sadly she didn't make it to church Sundaybecause she was sick, but hopefully we can help her progress. I say that a lot. If a mission teaches you anything, it's hope! And patience. Can't forget that one.

Friday night we met our landlord. I just love him so much. He's really friendly, and he is very very Southern. I have a special love for these kind of people. :) I just love Tennessee so much. He wrestled a raccoon in our apartment with his bare hands once. I wish I could have been there to see it! It was before I got here. Sister Bedke and Sister Burningham left the door open once and a raccoon ran inside and took refuge in the bathroom. They called the landlord and he came and wrestled it into a box. Now we call him the "Coon man" with his permission. I love that story. Oh Tennessee.

Saturday we had an awesome lesson with a new investigator! Her name is Betty, and she was a referral from member in the Rotherwood ward. She is such a sweetheart! She lost her son a few months ago and has been really struggling. It was a huge blessing being able to testify of eternal families and the restored Gospel. She drank in every word and accepted a Book of Mormon! It was an incredible lesson. I just love being a missionary. It's the best job ever. Nothing can match it. The Church is true!

Saturday night we had two dinner appointments back to back. Remind me to never do that in the South again. They were both delicious! And I think I gained 50 pounds. But that's why I'm getting Insanity for Christmas. We double-booked accidentally and didn't have the heart to cancel either one. So! We ate a lot. I am slightly terrified at the prospect of Thanksgiving. Sister Bedke tells me she had 4 huge meals that day.  . . . Bring it on.

I just love this ward. It's always hard having to feed yourself on Sundays for whatever reason. So last night the bishop's wife sent out a little memo to the ward saying that we didn't have a dinner appointment. The Veeches called us last minute and said they would feed us dinner! I love them so much. We already had a dinner appointment lined up for tonight, but they were fine with feeding us two nights in a row. I love this ward so much. They are so friendly and so helpful. These people are the salt of the earth over here. They give me hope for humanity. Not just because they feed us, but because of their pure, Christlike love toward others. They are the most selfless, loving, happy people. I just love them so much!! I say that a lot too. If a mission teaches you anything, it's how to love!!

So, there you have it. This week was pretty good. We got to meet a ton of new people, worked with a lot of less-actives, and had a lot of great lesson. We didn't get to see any of our regulars this week because they have all kind of fallen off the face of the earth into a realm called "work." But we're really stubborn. We're going to set up appointments with these people, gosh dang it.

Spiritual thought of the week comes from a really long and complicated thought process I put myself through this week that was completely unrelated to the mission. But with a lot of prayer and contemplation, I emerged from this whole experience with a new mission motto. Basically I found that I had lost joy in something that I had once loved because of my fear that it would end too quickly. In a moment of inspiration I answered my concerns with the statement, "Enjoy it while it lasts, hope for the best, and focus." Missions are short. It's hard to see time fly so fast. Life is short too. So many glorious moments in life are just too short for our liking. So why ruin the joy of these precious moments with fear of loss or change? Enjoy it while it lasts. And hope for the best. Don't lose hope in a bright future just because you know change is coming. Life is full of changes, otherwise no growth would occur anywhere. Whatever joy you are experiencing may be short or long, but regardless, we should hope for the best. Because we have every reason to hope through Christ. He gave us a reason to hope not just for happiness now, but for a future of endless happiness. The victory is won. All we have to do now is choose to be happy now and choose to be happy in the future. And focus. Focus on the most important things in life. Live your life in the present. Focus outward and upward. As we do this, we will find life to be so much more enjoyable. So whatever you may be experiencing, enjoy it while it lasts. Hope for the best. And focus. :)

I love you all! I hope you know how much I love being a missionary. I couldn't ask for a better learning experience. I couldn't ask for a more fulfilling experience. We change lives every day. Some days it's only mine. But every day someone draws closer to God, and that is what brings  joy and fulfillment. I think of the 80,000 missionaries in the field bringing at least one soul closer to God every single day. This work is so grand, so glorious, and it is ever expanding. And it's not just the missionaries who get to participate! Come, join with us! Lift up those around you. Bring a soul closer to Christ every day. That is experiencing true joy.

Love you all!

-Sister Fox

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Upward and Outward

Hello hello hello friends and family and other folks! 

Guess what?? This week was *almost* spiritual overload. Except you can never have too much of a Spiritual high. Therefore, this week was like getting blasted with a spiritual fire hose. Very refreshing, especially because it's like, 80 degrees still. In the middle of October. It happens. Anyway. What I'm trying to say is that this week rocked because I can't recall a time, except for in the MTC, when I have received so much spiritual instruction and edification. It was awesome!! "Let's rewind to my favorite part, shall we?" (10 points to the person who names that movie. And maybe a brownie.)

Monday was a blast! Not of the fire hose variety. Our district got together and played more volleyball, and I'm starting to get better at my overhand serve! I probably make it over 1 in 10. So . . . could use some improvement. But it's coming! Then we played Tomahawk! That game is so fun!! I want to publicly express my gratitude toward my dad for teaching me how to throw and catch a football. Tomahawk is so much fun! And I'm actually somewhat good at it! It's like ultimate frisbee with a football. The hard part is getting the football to go in the basketball hoop. I made a couple shots though! Points. Except missionaries aren't allowed to keep score.

I am really. REALLY. Hyper.

After P-Day ended we had dinner with the Nesbits again, and we had another great lesson about the importance of the Book of Mormon in the conversion process. Patty is soooo close. I can't actually tell what's holding her back at this point. It's probably just not time yet. Another lesson in patience! A mission will teach you that. It kind of force-feeds you patience. But I guess that's good for people like me who need to learn it. Bother.

Tuesday was MLC! MLC = 6 hours of training + 4 hours of driving. We drove with the Zone Leaders down to Knoxville and then counselled together as leadership in the mission about what we can do to help the missionaries. We learned a ton about having a vision, setting goals, and making plans to own your goals. What's so neat about the things we learn as missionaries is that these principles apply to life outside of missionary work. I am already making tons of goals and plans about the kind of person I want to be in the future when I get home. Until then, I will learn all I can!

Wednesday was Zone Meeting! Zone Meeting = 3 hours of training + 15 minutes of driving. I'm glad we don't have to go as far. Zone Meeting was amazing. This month as a mission we're focusing on developing Christlike attributes. We're each picking an attribute we would like to develop. A few months ago I started a BOM study on the topic of charity, so I decided to take it a step further and do all I can to develop it. It's amazing what I've learned about charity thus far. As the BOM is the keystone of our religion, so is charity the keystone of all Christlike attributes. When our thoughts and actions are motivated by pure, Christlike love, His character slowly becomes engraved in our own countenances. As we read about Charity in Moroni 7 and in other places in the Book of Mormon, we find that all the Christlike attributes fall into place as we develop the pure, selfless love of Jesus Christ.

After Zone Meeting we played more volleyball and then we did exchanges with Rogersville. That was one of my favorites! I went up to Rogersville to serve with Sister Brown. She's a firecracker, that one. She will be done with her training by the end of this transfer. Which is in . . . 2 days. I would have never guessed that she was still in training though. She's an amazing missionary. We had tons of fun! I got to meet a couple of her investigators and less-actives, and I learned a lot from her. I even got to see somebody from the West Hills Ward! That was cool. And we did Insanity in the morning. I didn't realize how much I missed those workout videos. Um . . . Christmas? =D

Thursday we had an amazing lesson with our recent convert Debbie. Debbie is so sweet! We brought a ward member with us and they instantly clicked. It was the best moment ever. It's hard as a missionary to see so many converts fall through the cracks into inactivity. Every time I've baptized someone I've worried about them receiving the fellowship they need. But now Debbie has a friend in the church and I can breathe easily. So, be friends with everyone! It just makes the work of salvation that much easier and takes a huge load off the shoulders of the missionaries.

Thursday night we had a lesson with Sky, a young woman in the ward. She is so cute. We talked a lot about individual worth and read her the poem "The Touch of the Master's Hand." I absolutely adore that poem! It came from a really good article in this month's ensign. If y'all haven't read it yet, read it! It's amazing. It just made my heart happy. Like the rest of this week.

Saturday and Sunday, of course, was General Conference!! I. Love. General Conference. So so much. It can never come soon enough. Weren't these sessions amazing? I clapped after Elder Oaks's talk. That one was my favorite. It made me feel even more awesome that I got to shake hands with him about 7 months ago. I just. Love him. So much. I also loved President Monson's, Elder Hollands, Elder Ballard's, Sister Nelson's, Elder Anderson's, Sister Oscarson's . . I just loved them all, really. Sunday morning was my favorite session. There were so many themes in this Conference that it's hard to pick one out. We heard a lot about developing Christlike attributes, loving our neighbors, honoring our roles as men and women in the church, member missionary work, obedience to God's unchanging commandments, and centering our lives on Jesus Christ. I think if I could pull out any overarching theme of this conference it's this: we need to turn our lives upward and outward. Where is our focus? Are we focusing on becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ by refining our character through His atonement? Are we humble, teachable, and allowing our Savior to shape us into profitable servants? Are we centering our lives on Him and His divine work to gather His children? Are we focusing on the blessings He has given us and thanking Him by turning outward and loving our neighbors? As we shift our focus upward and outward, His work will progress faster. His work must be our main focus. We need to work out our own salvation and turn outward to help others with theirs. That is mostly what I pulled out of Conference.

I just love missionary work. I love this Gospel. This world is kind of nuts. As a missionary it's weird, because you hear little tidbits of news here and there. Lots of strange news flying around about the status of the government, wars in foreign countries, and the condition of the economy. Things like that used to always bother and scare me. It's such a blessing to be a missionary at this time. We focus on giving others hope. And by doing so, we are instill in ourselves feelings of confidence and hope. We teach others that hope comes through Jesus Christ, and no matter how difficult or frightening things get, everything will work out in the end for those who love and follow the Savior. So although the world is getting to be a very frightening place, we do not have to be afraid, because the Savior is watching. All will turn out right, for "the standard of truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing" (Joseph Smith, Jr.) So hold to the faith you have. Know that Jesus Christ is always with you. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

The Church is true! Can't say it enough. I'm so blessed with the opportunity to tell people that here for 18 months! I'm almost halfway. It's amazing how time flies. Better step up my game!

Love y'all so much! Seriously. I appreciate so much your thoughts and prayers. Until next week!

-Sister Fox