Monday, November 25, 2013

Welcome to Chattanooga!

Hello Family and Friends and Followers and other Fantastic people who may for some strange reason not fit in those categories!

So, my 2nd night here we decided to meet our neighbors. We got to meet a nice older couple and their parents, and they were way friendly! We walked out of their apartment that night with arms full of suckers, oranges, candles, and incense.

Welcome to Chattanooga.

I love it here!! I have wanted to serve in Chattanooga for a long time; a lot of the missionaries talk about how much they loved serving down here. I went from the northermost part of the mission to the southernmost. With perfect timing too! It's not as cold down here. Still wearing short sleeves! :P That'll change soon though. Temperatures are starting to drop.

So I was way sad to leave Kingsport, and I miss my people, but I'm absolutely in love with my new area already! I am in Hixson North! Technically, I am serving in Soddy Daisy. Yeup. Doesn't that just sound . . . super southern? We're in Soddy Daisy, the District Leader is in Red Bank, and the Zone Leaders are in Hixson. There are 3 sets of missionaries in the Hixson ward! I haven't seen that for 6 months. It's fun though! I always love working closely with the District Leader and the Zone Leaders. They're awesome! I love them all to pieces already. I love my district too. We have a senior couple and another set of sisters along with the 6 in our ward. Woohoo!

The ward is fantastic! They are so friendly and outgoing. They love missionaries and they're way focused on member missionary work! As I sat in on Ward Council for the first time I thought I was in heaven. I can't believe how mission-focused this ward is. It's perfectly fantastic. I couldn't think of a better place to spend the holidays!!

And I love my new companion!! Her name is Sister Schwab. She was trained by Sister Mortensen!! So that makes her . . .my niece? I still can't wrap my mind around the mission family-tree stuff. But she was born in Pleasant Ridge too! So we talk a lot about that ward and how much we loved serving there. Good times. And now we're working together! She is so cute. And really really happy. I guarantee none of you have met a missionary who is happier than my current companion. She loves people, she loves the work, and she is really outgoig. She's not afraid of reaching out and talking to everyone! I have a lot to learn from her, that's for sure. She's really excited to be a Sister Training Leader too! We're going to do a lot of great things here in Chattanooga North. Bring it on!

So, my week! It was pretty good. I will traditionally start off with funny quotes:

"Because of me they don't have to squeeze so many cows all the time!"

"I want to be a stunning old woman!"

"How come I'm the one who ended up with the brain health pills?"

"No! Christmas is ruining everything!!!"

I may or may not have said all of those this week. Background stories available upon request.

We'll start off with MondayMonday was a shorter p-day because we spent the morning helping evict a few members in the ward. This ward is really good at last-minute evictions. They had to be out by 4:00 and we had them completely moved out, including furniture and appliances, at 1:00. Woohoo!! It was pretty fun. Hard work, but felt good. I can't tell y'all how many people I've helped move out here. I think about 4 or 5 at this point. I'm getting pretty expert at it! Monday night we had dinner with Sky, who is a laurel in the ward whom I absolutely love, and then we went to say goodbye to Sister Ward, an older widow in the ward. I love her a lot! I will miss her, but I promised to write. I promised a lot of people I would write. I should probably start writing people letters . . .

Tuesday we said goodbye to Sydney. I love Sydney with my heart and soul. We are friends on Facebook though (If Riss accepted the request) so we can keep in touch! Sydney's about my age. I'm gonna miss her. We had a good lesson about the Book of Mormon! We read 3 Nephi 17. A piece of my heart will always be in that chapter. It's one of my favorites!

After Sydney we went to lunch at Pal's with Sister Ellsworth. Apparently you can't leave Kingsport until you've eaten at Pal's. It's like In n' Out but a lot more classy. And they're fast! And the food is slightly healthier. Not bad! I enjoyed it. I think I've eaten out like 8 times this week. Good thing Sister Schwab loves Insanity as much as I do! Woohoo!! Tuesday night we said goodbye to Brother Ennis, who said he wants to come back to church! Hooray! And then we saw Debbie! Who gave me a beautiful Christmas package. I'm going to miss her!! Luckily she drove us to transfers so I didn't have to say goodbye to her until Wednesday. It was still hard though. I promised I'd write. I definitely want to go back and visit her!

Wednesday was transfers! Sister Stone gave her farewell testimony! She is home as we speak. Weird. I feel old; my trainer is home! We said goodbye to a lot of missionaries I know pretty well. I'm starting to be a part of the oldest age group in the TKM. It's weird how fast it flies by. Not ok. I loved that meeting though. I got to see Sister Paxton! She was in West Hills for 6 months and finally was transferred. I don't remember where she went. It was awesome seeing her again though! She's a fantastic person and I love her a lot. It's awesome how many friends you make while you're on your mission!

Thursday was District Meeting and I got to meet my new district and as I said before I love them all lots. Then we dropped in on a potential investigator, Janet. She has a strong Christian background and she's open to learning more about our church! Woohoo!! And her grandson was there with two of his friends! Now they were a bit harder. He's very much athiest. He kept leaning on facts and science and tried to use them to disprove the existence of God. He was really kind about it though. I think he's really just searching for truth. A few months ago I received an article from a follower of my blog entitled, "God Dragged Before Another Earthly Tribunal." It's by H. Wallace Goddard. I don't know if it's online, but if it is, y'all should look it up, because that article is solid gold! It talks about the relationship between religion and science and I think it ties the two together beautifully. It mentions that we need to discover God on His terms. Not based on fact alone, but based on qualities He wants us to cultivate, like faith, humility, love, and obedience. John 7:17- We know God's way if we do His will. It also mentions that God respects our agency and does not compel His children with scientific data to love Him or believe in Him. I can't do it justice. All y'all should go look it up. It has helped so much. Science definitely has its place, but if we are to really come to learn who God is and if He's there, it needs to be approached by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the Most Important Thing.

Friday was planning day. It took us 6.5 hours to weekly plan. Thankfully that's not that common. This area just has so much potential! It's awesome! We have a lot of investigators who can potentially progress toward baptism, and I'm excited to work with them all this week! Plus it took us a solid hour and a half to plan out exchanges. We only have to exchange with 6 companionships instead of 7, but because of Christmas and Thanksgiving, we had a really hard time fitting them all in our schedule (hence the quote about Christmas above). And one of them lives a whoppin' 2 hours away. We'll see how that goes!

Saturday was so tiring! We spent another 3 hours helping somebody move, and that was pretty fun. Then we met several less actives and potential investigators. So much to do! So little time!

SundaySunday was fantastic. Even though we had to get up at 5:15. It was still fantastic. We had an excellent correlation with the Ward Mission Leader, who is fantastic at what he does. I appreciate this ward so much already. They are so helpful to the missionaries! We had a good sacrament meeting too; Sister Schwab spoke on gratitude and I got to sit with a few members and get to know them better. And then we taught Young Womens on the fly! They literally asked us on the way to Relief Society. 10 months ago that would have scared me to death. But! We did it! And it was an awesome lesson about turning to God in times of hardship instead of turning to worldly influences. I was so impressed with the testimonies of these 4 valiant young women. They are so solid. Youth of the rising generation have inspiring testimonies, and it was a pleasure getting to know these young women better. A perfect way to start out the transfer!
Plus! We had a baptism right after church! Guess who gave a last-minute talk at that? This missionary! Which also would have freaked me out 10 months ago. I prepared a quick talk during Gospel Principles before I found out that Alexis, the girl getting baptized, was 9. So I rewrote my talk to tailor it to kids right before the service. It went well though! She seemed to have liked it, and I got quite a few compliments on it. Teaching kids about baptism and the kingdom of heaven is so different than teaching the same doctrine to adults. It's fun though! Alexis was way cute. After she came up out of the water she exclaimed, "WOOHOO!" She was so excited to be baptized. And rightly so! It was an awesome service.

And that was my week! And my time is running short so I will have to close. But I have to include a spiritual thought first! This one is about gratitude. It being Thanksgiving and everything. We are at our happiest when we are feeling grateful. In Mosiah, King Benjamin talks about how we would still be unprofitable servants if we were to render all the thanks and praise to our God who gave us life. Yet all He asks is to keep His commandments. And then He blesses us even more! (Mosiah 3? 4? One of those.) The best way we can show our gratitude to God is by keeping His commandments and doing His will. This week I heard from somewhere that a great way to show our gratitude to God is by searching out missionary opportunities--opportunities to bring His children the light and joy of the gospel. Fantastic idea!! Truly inspired. Another thing Sister Schwab talked about in her talk was a prayer of gratitude. I have a firm testimony of prayers of gratitude. Even though you may have a million things you feel like you need to pray for, I challenge all of you to say a prayer of pure gratitude this week. As you tell your Heavenly Father all those things you are grateful for your heart will soften. Your countenance will grow lighter. Life will be brighter. And you will feel His love so much more in your life. No matter how hard your struggles, a spirit of gratitude will help you through anything.

I love you all! Speaking of gratitude, I am so grateful for all of you and your prayers on my behalf. I feel them strengthen me every day, and I am so grateful for it!! And the letters! They make my life!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!! I love you all! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trust in the Lord

Hello Family, Friends and other Favorite people of mine!

I can barely remember what happened this week so we'll just see how this email turns out.
I do have a couple quotes though.

(Same 4-year old as last week)

Me: I eat like a rabbit.
4-year-old: What?? You ate a rabbit???
Me: Yes Sweetie I just picked up a live rabbit and swallowed it whole.
*Next day at church*
4-year-old: Hey Sister Fox!!!! Did you eat a bunny with all its fur on it??
Me: No honey I was just kidding.
4-year-old: Oh. Mom!!! Sister Fox didn't eat a bunny!!!!
Mom: Sister Fox didn't eat a bunny . . . ?

I'm going to miss that girl.

This week was transfer calls. I had it all planned out in my head. Perfect plan. I would stay in Kingsport with Sister Bedke for her last transfer in the mission. We finally both know what's going on in the area and we're going to hit it with all we've got for the next six weeks. Then I'll get to stay with all my favorite people during the holidays. Then I'll stay one more transfer to show all the ropes of Kingsport to another STL. Then I'd get transferred. Perfect, right?

Nope.

Saturday I found out both Sister Roundy and I are getting transferred. I may or may not have cried after that phone call. This would be the first time I've cried after transfer calls. I've come to terms with it now, but I was not happy about it initially. I love Kingsport so much. I love my companions. I love my district, I love my district leader, my zone leaders, my ward, my bishop, my investigators, everything. I am going to miss Kingsport so much. But after a lot of pondering and prayer, I've come to feel that my work here really is finished. God needs me elsewhere, and I'm excited to plant myself in a new area. It'll be interesting to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in a semi-foreign place, but I know a lot of fantastic experiences await me there. So, I can finally honestly say I'm looking forward to it!

Oy, this week. Where to start? Ups and downs. I say that every week. That's the mission for ya.Monday was good. We played spud again. And sardines as companionships. Now that was an interesting game. It was fun though! I learned it's really hard to hide three people in a church building.

Monday night we heart-attacked a woman in our ward. She has been going through a really rough time so we thought we would send her some encouraging messages. I haven't seen her since but it felt really good! I hope it made her day. I just love doing things like that!

Tuesday . . . we saw Vivian! And we taught her the Plan of Salvation. It was one of the most incredible Plan of Salvation lessons I've ever taught. We were all so in tune with the Spirit and we all learned so much from that experience. Vivian accepted a baptismal date for December 7th!

Right after Vivian we saw Marge. We didn't have time to teach her a whole lesson but we shared a thought and then set up a return appointment. She is so solid. She said she wanted to come to church Sunday!
Tuesday night we saw Kim. I love Kim. With all my heart and soul. I don't know if I've talked about Kim yet? Quick rundown. Kim and Bobby are married with an adorable 18 month old named Trinity. Bobby was baptized about a year ago, around Halloween. Kim has been meeting with several sets of missionaries ever since, but she's a little more hesitant. Bobby has a lot of health problems, so it has been hard for us to meet with them. We had a fantastic lesson Tuesday night though. We did a little fast with Kim on Tuesday because she's trying to quit drinking sweet tea. She said she had a really rough day but she knows God wants her to learn something from it. She really wants to join the church but something is holding her back. Something more than sweet tea, anyway. She doesn't really know what it is. She's making great progress though! I just love her so much. So so so much. Can't even explain it.

Wednesday we had a fantastic zone conference on chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, which is all about using time wisely. At first I thought a 6 hour meeting about planning would be fairly dull, but this one was really good! We had some excellent trainings on how to plan and be wise with our time. I learned a ton about goal setting and faithfully owning your goals. After zone conference we went on exchanges with the Greeneville sisters. Greeneville is on fire right now! They're a tiny little branch but they're raking in the baptisms. It was fun to work with Sister Bohanon for the day. They are really hard working and keep pretty busy. I got to meet all sorts of fun people! I love exchanges. They're just the best.

Thursday we received our first piece of bad news for the week. Apparently while I was on exchangesThursday morning, Sister Bedke, Roundy, and Hatch were supposed to be meeting with Vivian. Instead, they found a note she had left outside her door asking us not to see her anymore. She is afraid of betraying the faith she grew up with for so many years and doesn't want to make any changes. I truly feel like she knows it's true, but she's too afraid to act. It was devastating. I love Vivian so much. She is so open, loving, and friendly, and I was so excited when she committed to a date. This was the first lesson of the week about trusting in God. I need to trust that God desires her salvation more than I do, and that He will continue working with her until she finds the truth. I had to let go. Let go and let God.

However, Thursday Sister Bedke, Roundy, and Hatch had an excellent lesson with Marge. They taught her the Plan of Salvation in the chapel after they gave her a church tour. They said it was amazing. Marge had started crying and the spirit was so profound. Before the lesson she was apparently pretty hesitant to get baptized, but after the lesson was over she knew that she wanted it. We were waiting outside the chapel to exchange back and when she saw me she lit up. I love her so much! I could tell she had just had an incredible and enlightening experience. It's these simple joys that make missionary work so worthwhile.
Friday. We saw Debbie again and she is doing well! She painted her house and it looks amazing! She is going to be taking us to transfers. I'm really excited! Saying goodbye to her is not going to be fun, but I'm glad I'll get a whole 2 hour car ride with her Wednesday morning. I just love her to pieces! She keeps making us treats and feeding us dinner and doing all sorts of nice things for us. She really has become a second mother to me out here. Oh heavens I'm going to miss her a ton!

Friday night we had a FANTASTIC lesson with Kim. We gave her D&C 89 as an assignment because we had planned to talk about the Word of Wisdom. Well, when we got there, she told us she thought she was supposed to have read D&C 39. That was inspired by the Spirit. D&C 39 nailed her every concern. She thought we had given it to her on purpose because it related to her so well. She knew God was speaking directly to her. She started asking us about our personal conversion stories and how we came to know it was true. We had a fantastic lesson about how it is okay to question things. But doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. Honestly question, but don't doubt your faith. She is making some great progress. I connected so well with her Friday night. Gosh dang it I'm going to miss her so much!!! Leaving Kingsport is going to be a trial in and of itself!

Saturday was transfer calls. I've already gone over how I feel about it. I was fairly sad all day Saturdaybut I've come to terms with it now. I'm so sad to leave Kingsport but excited for the experiences that lie ahead. Someone needs me out there! Time to go find 'em.

Sunday. Oi. Sunday morning we called Marge at 7:30 to make sure she would be at church. She said she was planning on coming. We were so excited to finally get an investigator at church. 9:00 rolls around and she's not there yet. 9:10 we finally send her a text. Right before the sacrament started she texted us saying that she wasn't coming to church that day. She said she didn't want to jump into something she wasn't ready for yet and just needs some time to figure things out. With that she told us to cancel our return appointment for this Tuesday. My heart fell to the floor. I tried to make things right by texting her back and I asked her if we could stop by Tuesday to say goodbye before Sister Roundy and I left for transfers. She said no. One thing I've learned, no matter how long you've been a missionary, and how many times you've faced rejection, rejection always hurts. Getting that text on top of receiving news about transfers left me feeling broken. I silently and desperately prayed for relief. In answer to my prayer, I heard one of the best sacrament meeting talks about trusting in the Lord in times of trial. He was a high council speaker and he did a fantastic job. One thing he said that really stood out to me, after he talked about the story of Abraham and Isaac, is that "God knows what heart strings to pull that will hurt the most. He will only pull on our heart strings because He wants us to discover who we are and what we're capable of." With that he shared the scripture, "Be not afraid, only believe." I cried through his entire talk. God will let us face times of trial to test us. Not necessarily so that we will prove ourselves to Him, but so we, like Abraham, can discover what we're willing to sacrifice and the things we are capable of. We are more resilient than we think. We are stronger than we think. And as we put our trust in God, we find that with His power we can overcome all things, no matter how difficult.

I heard about what happened in the Philippines this week. This put a lot of things into perspective for me. God will let hard things happen. And we don't really know why. But we need to trust in Him. Trust Him to heal us, trust Him to help us, and trust Him to make our trials into something that will refine us and help us become like Him. Because that is why we're here. The jump between where we are and where we can be cannot be crossed without facing opposition and difficult times. But God will never let the refiner's fire burn too hot. And it will keep burning until we reflect His image in our countenance. Receiving news from the Philippines was terrifying. I have friends who are serving there as missionaries. It is truly a miracle that every one of them survived. My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones due to that terrible tragedy. I know that God will be with them and will send angels to be with them in their time of need. We live in frightening times. It is vitally important to learn to trust in God. Trust that every trial given to us is essential to our salvation. Trust that through the Atonement of Christ everything will turn out right. Be not afraid, only believe.

Family and friends, I love you all so much. I appreciate your letters, love, and support. I hope you all know that I am happy. This week was full of ups and downs, and I faced some disappointing days, but I'm happy. Because you are at your happiest when you are serving the Lord. You are all in my prayers and I wish you all the best! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Friday, November 15, 2013

Glimpse of Heaven

Hello Friends and Family and other Fantastic people!

Hola! It is Monday again and I am very happy that I can still write this email despite the national holiday! Family History Library. I am very grateful for it.
I thought I would start off this letter with a couple quotes/observations.

4-year-old: Sing me a song!!!
Me: I wish I could, but I have a frog in my throat.
4-year-old: You have a FROG in your THROAT??
* 5 minutes later*
4-year-old: Mom! Sister Fox ate a frog!
7-year-old: What? Why did you eat a frog? That's disgusting!
Me: I was hungry.

Observation #1: The phrase, "It's just an expression" means nothing to a 4-year-old.
Brother Passey (And Sydney and probably 50 other people): What does the Fox say?
Me: Uhh . . . well . . . I preach the gospel  . . . is that what you're asking?

Observation #2: These people are not actually referring to me as The Fox, nor are they actually asking for my opinion.

Observation #3: The vast majority of Americans are now satisfied with how the word "Fox" is spelled and have shifted to inquiring after what sound a fox makes.

Observation #4: I have ceased to understand Youtube sensations.

Yesterday Elder Woolums gave the three of us bookmarks with dead cockroaches glued to them. The quote underneath it reads, "Fire and Brimstone still can't kill me . . ."

Observation #5: The Elders have cockroaches. The Sisters are grateful that they don't have cockroaches.

Observation #6: The Elders are bored.

Yes, I'm keeping the bookmark.

That's it for now. More of those to come next week I'm sure. Missions can be . . .kinda weird.
So this week was fantastic!! I love being a missionary. In fact, there were several times this week when we had little happy outbursts in the car as a companionship rejoicing about how great it is to be a missionary. Because, let's be honest. It's great. It's hard and frustrating and tiring and perfectly fantastic.

Anyway.
Monday was good! We played a new sport called "Spud." As I mentioned in the recording, it involves chucking soccer balls at each other and lots of running and funny poses and laughter. And guess who won the second round?? This missionary!! Woohoo!! Against 6 elders and 4 other sisters. Bragging rights.
I loved Tuesday. Tuesday was MLC, and I look forward to this meeting every month. There's a powerful spirit in a room full of mission leadership. Each zone leader and sister training leader brings an incredible spirit with them, as well as plenty of inspired ideas that help keep the mission running. We had incredible trainings on how to use time wisely and how to instill a sense of urgency in our missionaries. We also talked a lot about goal setting and accountability. This was one of my favorite MLC's thus far. Fingers crossed that President will let me stay a Sister Training Leader for a couple more transfers so I can keep going to MLC! We find out transfer information on Saturday. Dying.

Good grief this hour and a half goes so fast!! I'm gonna have to fly through the rest of this email. Ready, set, go!

So, Wednesday was fantastic! We went on exchanges with the Rogersville sisters and I had the opportunity to host this exchange with Sister Stewart. She is so cute; she's from Australia and has the most wicked accent. We're basically all jealous. She is also an incredible teacher. We had the opportunity to teach Marge the Restoration, and it was fantastic! It went so well, it was one of the best Restoration lessons I have taught. Our eyes were fixed as I related the account of Joseph Smith's Vision, and I loved seeing a look of recognition fill her eyes as I bore testimony of the Father and the Son appearing to Joseph Smith in that grove of trees. What faith! She accepted a baptismal date forNovember 30th!! Woohoo!!!! The Church is true! Sister Roundy and I almost pulled an Ammon and passed out in the hallway. We didn't, but we were still so excited! It's the best feeling when you meet someone who is ready to begin making the steps to receive exaltation. Most exhilarating and joyful feeling ever. Gives you a little glimpse of heaven.

Wednesday night we had a fantastic lesson with a less-active named Tony. We taught the Plan of Salvation and she soaked it all in. I love teaching the Plan of Salvation and testifying of the importance of keeping an eternal perspective. It's amazing and humbling to see what our Heavenly Father has in store for us. We are so blessed to have this knowledge. We know exactly what we need to do to qualify for eternal life. We have the knowledge that everyone wants! We know how to be happy! Everyone needs this. Everyone wants this. Some people just don't know it yet. Our calling as missionaries and as member missionaries is to find those who need this knowledge and share it with them. And the feeling that comes when you share it fills your heart with joy beyond comprehension. Gives you a little glimpse of heaven.

Thursday we had a fantastic lesson with Sydney. She is doing really well. We talked about self-worth and seeing ourselves the way God sees us. This is one of my favorite messages to share with the young women in the church. Too few know who they truly are or what they truly deserve. Sharing the truth with them is the best thing ever. We also had a breakthrough Thursday night, which gave me the inspiration for the title of this email. We met with the Mathes family, who is a less-active family. She was baptized years ago but didn't remember much about it at first. It seemed, after our first visit, that the church didn't make much of an imprint on her at all. But when we came back the second time, memories flooded back. She told us the details of her baptism and it was absolutely beautiful. As she went under the water she said she caught a glimpse of heaven. It's something beyond what she could even describe. As I reflected on her experience I started thinking about the role of the church in my life. Everything gives you a glimpse of heaven. When you are baptized, you feel clean, and all the burden of sin is lifted from your shoulders. You are given the Holy Ghost, who gives you a glimpse of heaven every time you feel his influence. You get a glimpse of heaven every time you go to church and partake of the sacrament, when you associate with those whom you love, when you come to learn and understand spiritual truths that will help prepare you to live in the kingdom of God. I was talking about this with my companions in the car on the way home as we were rejoicing after how awesome that lesson went. Why wouldn't anyone want to be a member of this church? It brings nothing but blessings, comfort, hope, and peace in times of trial and heartache. It teaches us how to bring our families closer together. It makes us happy. It gives us a glimpse of heaven. We are so lucky to have this Gospel in our lives!! Doesn't it just make y'all want to share it with everyone? =D

Which brings me to SaturdaySaturday rocked. Sis Bedke and I went down to Johnson City to give Sister Roundy a chance to host an exchange in Kingsport. We started the day with going to the Veterans Hospital with a group of girl scouts who wanted to give cards to the veterans and thank them for their service. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. I loved seeing the faces of the veterans light up as these little girls wished them a happy Veterans Day. One day I want to do things like that with my kids. The joy that comes from serving others is something else. I just love it a lot!

Saturday I also got to see a baptism in the Johnson City Ward, and once again I ran into Chelise. That was perfectly awesome! I didn't expect to see her there. I don't know why. But it was fantastic.

AH there's still so much to tell!! And no time to do it!! Good thing I keep a journal. Missions are awesome!! And I love them so much!! They're just. . . so great. I love being a missionary. I can't believe I'm reaching 10 months. Double digits. That's insane. I just hope that in the time I have left I can become the missionary God has always wanted me to be, and bless as many lives as I can in the process. Because that is what this Church does. It blesses lives. It leads people to happiness. It gives us all a glimpse of heaven. Church is true, Book is blue, JOIN IT!! =D

Love y'all lots!! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Monday, November 4, 2013

Through Heaven's Eyes

Hello Family and Friends!!

It's P-day again!! Good grief, time goes by so fast. It just kind of refuses to slow down. Even though I ask it to. Silly time. It's not very accommodating, is it?

This week was pretty good! It was and it wasn't. So might as well just call it good. Because, from an eternal perspective, it was good. First we'll start off with funny quotes for the week!

"Baptismal font of awesome!! Look at all those drops of awesome in there!"

"Ammon is a stud. I wonder if he's been sealed to anyone yet?"

*Gasp* "What would Ammon think??"
"I don't like being made fun of for my Book of Mormon character preferences."
"Yes you do."
"You're right it's actually kind of funny."

I don't really know how Ammon became the center of our inside jokes this week. But he is pretty legit so. . . I love my companions. 'Nuff said.

Monday! It was p-day. And I was particularly ill. So I happily embraced my anti-sociality and slept on the couch in the foyer while the other missionaries played sports. Points to Sister Bedke; she came out and checked on me several times and even found me a blanket. My companions take such good care of me!! I had a pretty nasty cold and it lasted through Wednesday. I feel much better now though!!

Wednesday we had an exchange with the Powell Valley sisters. I was kind of sad that I didn't go up to work in Powell Valley because it's a beautiful area with a lot of humble people, but we had to plan it a little differently. I did, however, get to work with Sister Cady again!! She spent the day with me and Sister Roundy in Kingsport. She is so awesome. I learned so much from my exchange with her 6 months ago, and I learned a ton from her during this exchange as well. She is amazing! I love her a lot. I will be including a lot of her thoughts in my spiritual thought at the end of this email.

We had some good lessons Wednesday! We saw Sydney again and she really clicked with Sister Cady. We talked a lot about finding our stories in the Book of Mormon. Each of us has a part of our story in there. I told Sydney an experience I had when I was really struggling and found answers through Book of Mormon stories, and Sister Cady did the same. She is getting really excited to read it! I know that as she does she will gain a much stronger testimony. I'm so glad she's coming back to church!! She came on Sunday!!! Happy day!!!

We also had a quick lesson with Marge. She is really open and friendly! The last time we saw her we just caught her on a bad day and she wasn't in the mood to talk to us. She was happy to see us this time! She invited us right in and we started talking about going to church. She wants to get back into church but she doesn't know which one to join. I love it when people have that problem. We told her about the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our purpose as missionaries to help people come unto Christ, be forgiven of their sins, and qualify for eternal life. She agreed to take the lessons! We'll be seeing her again this week and I'm really excited about it!! WoohoO!!

Thursday was Halloween! And it was basically like any other day. I dressed up as a missionary. I had this knee-length skirt with a matching blouse, worn-out shoes, and a pretty convincing name tag. I also had worn-out scriptures in a bag with tons of holes and pass-along cards in it to accessorize. Super convincing. Didn't get any candy for it though.

We spent Halloween basically visiting all our favorite people. We had a good lesson with Debbie and had a delicious dinner with some members. We spent the evening at the Carter's house reading the scriptures together. It was a pretty good day! It really wasn't all that different, but it was good. And it marked a year since the day I opened my mission call. Does it feel like a year? Nope. I can't believe that was a whole year ago!! That was an exciting time. Now here I am, in Tennessee, preaching the gospel and having a blast!
And Halloween was the day we learned that my sister-in-law is having a girl!! Sorry for freaking out on y'all an hour ago. I've been looking forward to hearing that news all week and it didn't end up in my inbox. But it's okay because I know now!! Thanks for the quick responses!! =D I'm so excited to have a niece!! I had a feeling it would be a girl. It's funny, a lot of people asked me this week what changes I would see once I went home, and I kept telling them that I would go home to a 2 year old nephew and a new niece. Then I caught myself because I didn't actually know it was a girl. But now I do! Validated.

Friday was district meeting! It was a really good one. It started out with a pretty hilarious moment. Sister Roundy was giving a training and she was absolutely terrified. We were giving the elders a ride to the church, and Elder Woolums said, "Oh, by the way, the assistants are coming." He said that just to freak Sister Roundy out, but it was a total joke. So we pull up in the parking lot and who do we see piling out of the van? Elder Mills. One of the assistants. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Sister Roundy didn't think it was funny. She did a fantastic job though! She gave an excellent training on diligence. One thing she said that I loved was that diligence is not just an action, but an attitude. It's one thing to do God's will. It's another thing to do it happily and willingly! Diligence is not just the ability to do what we set out to do, but the ability to do it with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance. Points to Sister Roundy!  That was one of the best district meetings I've been to, actually. The Zone Leaders gave another fantastic training on Elder Corbridge's MIT, then we had a couple role plays so we could practice teaching investigators the importance of keeping commitments in light of the MIT. I love district meetings!

Saturday we had an exchange with Bristol. This time I went up to Bristol to work with Sister Parkinson. Sister Stone went to Bristol right after she was with me in Pleasant Ridge, so it was fun seeing that area. We worked with a couple less actives. I really clicked with them! One of them was named Mitch; he joined the church just a couple years ago. We talked about the importance of attending church in light of the Most Important Thing. It's amazing how people respond when you talk about keeping your priorities in life straight. We had a fantastic lesson about church attendance and he came to church the next day!! For the first time in 2 years!!! Woohoo!!! Victory!! Hurrah for Israel! The Church is true!

Yesterday was also really good! Sadly, we didn't have any investigators at church again. But surprisingly, I felt perfectly happy. The Elders did!! They got a whole family to church!! I was really happy for them. If I can't rejoice in my own success, at least I can rejoice in the success of others! The elders have 5 baptismal dates right now!!  I am seriously so happy for them. We are all on the same team trying to build the kingdom, and it's certainly growing in the Kingsport area! It's fantastic!

These past few weeks certainly have been interesting. They've been the slowest of my mission. This is the longest I've gone without teaching a lesson from PMG chapter 3. I have never gone this long without teaching an investigator. And yet I feel perfectly content. I feel patient. I feel happy. And that is a gift from God, and the result of hundreds of prayers on my behalf, I am certain. I feel like I have grown so much. And I'm at peace knowing I'm trying my hardest. I'm giving this area everything I have. If things don't pick up, I guess it's not God's will. But I will continually find joy in the service of God, because that is where true joy is found. And I am so grateful for this opportunity. Missionary work really is the best. Where else do you learn this much or experience this kind of growth? I can't believe I only have 9 months of it yet. I am so far from being ready to say goodbye to this lifestyle. So better embrace it now! Enjoy it while it lasts, hope for the best, and focus on the Most Important Thing (I added that last part after Elder Corbridge).

The title for the email this week goes beyond the song that has been stuck in my head for the last five days. Sister Cady pointed out a chapter of scripture that has really changed my perspective of personal growth, change, and potential. It's found in Moses chapter 6, specifically verses 34-36. It's the story of Enoch. I love the Lord's response after Enoch doubts his own potential. Christ promises Enoch that He will abide in him, "Therefore walk with me." We are given power as we walk with Christ. Power to reach our own potential. Power to bless those around us. Power beyond our natural capacity as mortals. But how do we know what we are truly capable of? How do we recognize our potential? I love what happens next. In verse 35 Enoch is told to anoint his eyes with clay, then wipe it from his eyes. In 36 he sees that which can only be spiritually discerned. How do we see our potential? We must look at ourselves through heaven's eyes. We look at the person God knows that we can be. And we do that by wiping the world from our eyes. There are too many worldly influences and lies that blind us. But as we walk with Christ and wipe the world away from our eyes, we can see ourselves through heaven's eyes. We can see who we have the potential to become. And then we become that person through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Sister Cady suggested creating a characterization of yourself. Like you are a character in a play. Who are you? What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? No matter who you are now, or what problems you are struggling with, you can change. You can add any trait to your character. You can become a completely different person. Write out the character you want to be. Then ask for heavenly help. Ask for the ability to see yourself through Heaven's eyes. Let God help you see your potential. Then write it out. Become that person. God will respect who you want to become and will shape your life and bless you with experiences that will help you become that person. Because that's what this life is about! It's about becoming more like God. It's about becoming someone who is comfortable living in His presence again. It's about following the footsteps of Christ and having His image engraven on our countenances. It all starts with desire. Who do you want to be? With God, all things are possible. You can become that person. You can grow, you can change. You are never stagnant. You are either moving forward or moving backward. So choose to move forward. Choose to become the person God knows you can be.

That is all for now! Time is running short. I hope you all know how much I love you! The prayers make a difference every day. I love your letters, your emails, your thoughts, and your support. It keeps me going! I hope that something I say each week will help each one of you in some way. It's the least I can do to repay everything that all y'all have done for me!! I just love you all so much!!!

Until next week, all you fantastic people!

-Sister Fox