It is another gorgeous 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. ;)
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!
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.
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 because 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.
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.
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!
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!