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

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