Monday, December 9, 2013

Message of Hope

Hey y'all!

Greetings from Chattanooga! The field is white already to harvest! But it is not physically white because it doesn't snow here. No complaints. Apparently it's snowing up in Kingsport. Escaped that at the perfect time! I'm just tired of snow. I'm sure I'll miss it eventually, but now I'm really enjoying the rain. It is my favorite weather ya know!

Christmas is coming! I can't believe it's only 2 weeks away! I love this time of year! It's kind of sad that I only get one Christmas as a missionary. Proselyting during the holiday season is fantastic! There's just a certain spirit of love in the air that can get you into homes that would otherwise be closed to you. I'm excited to see miracles happen this December!

Speaking of Christmas, some of y'all are probably wondering what to get missionaries for Christmas. What I really want is a baptism, but we'll see how that one goes. Well I was looking through my cupboards today and saw an empty box of cliff bars. And I thought to myself, "Nothing spells Christmas joy for Sister Fox than a boat load of cliff bars." Because when I think to myself I think in 3rd person. Disclaimer: None of you should feel obligated to get me anything. But if you were already brainstorming, cliff bars would be the road less traveled that more people should travel by in my humble opinion. ;) Anyway. Moving on.

It was another good week; we saw several good things happen. Monday we drove up to Cleveland to get the Elders some new bikes because their old ones are falling apart. I always feel bad for the elders who have to bike in this cold weather. They spoil the sisters with cars. I am certainly grateful to have a car! Elder Houghton got a very nice bicycle that has been sitting in our apartment for the last 7 days. I'm sure he'll put it to use pretty soon . . .
After that we went to Chilis with the Cleveland missionaries, and I ran into two missionaries I went to the MTC with. It was really fun reminiscing with them! We had some good times in the MTC. Can't believe that was almost a year ago. Good grief. Anyway, that's just about as exciting as Monday gets.

Tuesday we had MLC! I love MLC! It's like Christmas once a month! This one was particularly good. We met in the Relief Society room of the church building instead of in the gym, and it made it much easier to counsel together. We have a huge MLC now, with 6 sets of Sister Training Leaders and 9 sets of Zone Leaders. They're all fantastic though! And I got to see Sister Day! I haven't really seen her my whole mission! That was way fun. We did a lot of catching up before the meeting. The meeting was one of the best I've been to thus far. We talked about finding ideas for the holidays, the difference between ministering and administering, and how to cultivate a vision to baptize in the missionaries as individuals. I love some of the ideas I heard from other members of the council. One zone leader in my group talked about what changed his mission was doing a serious study on eternal life. Once we understand what God has in store for the faithful, we have the vision and drive we need to accomplish His work. I decided to do the same thing. This past week I've been reading up on eternal life, what it means and what it will be like. As mortals we cannot comprehend the glory that lies on store for us, or the happiness that await those who access the Atonement through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But through the Holy Ghost we receive glimpses of the joy of eternal life. Ours is a message of hope. Eternal life means we can live with our families forever in the presence of God, in a state of "never ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41). Who doesn't want that? These blessings are what everyone wants, and they are so attainable! Once we realize the significance of the blessings of this Gospel, we want to share it with others. We want everyone to feel this same happiness and qualify for the same eternal blessings. A vision of where we are going significantly affects the kind of lives we live now.

After MLC we had dinner at the mission home! It was awesome! I haven't seen the mission home since the day I came out in February. February 5 to be exact. It felt so good to be there again. It brought back a lot of memories of my first day in the field. All I remember is feeling perfectly tired, terribly nervous, and incredibly excited for my mission ahead. And now I'm over halfway through. It's amazing to look back and see just how far I've come and how many lives have been blessed in these 11 months. I will always be grateful for it, and I will never regret it.

Wednesday we spent most of the day working with less actives and potential investigators. I don't remember too many details though. Being on a mission has completely fried my memory.

Thursday we had a little miracle. I think I mentioned Tori in my last email, but just a refresher, we OYMed Tori on the street as she was walking her dog home. She started talking to us about all the health problems that she has struggled with throughout her life. We went back to see her this week and she said she and her husband have desperately been looking for a church. In case anything happens to her, she wants her family to be in good hands. They were flat-out rejected by certain congregations in the area, and she's looking for a church that will accept her and her family with open arms. Her husband, John, has a friend who is LDS, and after talking with him on the phone, he told Tori to call us. He said if she called us, she would be in good hands. She took that as a sign that she needs to meet with us. We testified of eternal families and the glory of the resurrection and she just cried the whole time. Even though we were surrounded by distractions, the spirit was so strong. We are going to go back and teach her and her husband about the restoration tomorrow morning, and I am so excited! She needs this Gospel so desperately. It is everything she is looking for. She would have come to church yesterday but her son got sick. I have to say that one of the things that surprised me most about becoming a missionary is just how difficult it is to get investigators to church. But once they come they have an incredible experience! It's just a matter of getting them there!

After Tori we met with Janet, Chad, and Austin. This lesson was a little more on the frustrating side. Janet and Chad have a strong Christian background, and they have so much potential. We truly think they are ready to progress in this gospel. Austin is having a harder time. He is very much athiest and isn't really open to the idea of there being a God at all. We tried to teach the Plan of Salvation, and Janet and Chad were drinking it in, but the majority of the time was spent trying to get Austin to search for God in his life. He just doesn't want God to exist. He doesn't want a life after this one. That is so foreign to me. I hold different opinions in the deepest respect, but it is sad to see how people are so quick to reject our message. It's simply due to lack of understanding. If they truly understood the principle of eternal life, if they really knew what this message of hope offers, they would make like King Lamoni's father and be willing to give up everything to obtain this gift. As a missionary I feel like I'm walking around with this *box. And inside this box is eternal life. And I just want everyone to open it up and enjoy its contents with me. I want everyone to partake of these blessings and see just how much this gospel will bless their lives now and their lives in the eternities. Rejection is hard because I know how much it can bless their lives because of how it has blessed mine. I try my best to explain what God has in store for the faithful and still people don't want it or don't believe it. They don't want my box. They don't think eternal life is actually in the box. Or they don't want to have to sacrifice or change to open the box. Having that lesson with Tori and that lesson with Austin in the same day was really interesting to me. It shows how some people are ready for this Gospel, and others need more time. I'm grateful for a loving and merciful God who will give His children several opportunities to open this box and enjoy its contents. And I'm so grateful to see how it blesses the lives of the people I teach. Being a missionary really is the best thing ever.

*Note: Analogy borrowed from my favorite older sister.

In completely unrelated news, Friday night was the ward Christmas party! It was tons of fun. We had a huge potluck with tons of delicious food. It was like Thanksgiving all over again. I just love this ward! There are so many incredible people here! And we have dinner lined up for Christmas Eve and Christmas! Woohoo!! And I love both families a ton, so I'm really looking forward to it! Rest assured family, I will be in good hands this Christmas. And I'm excited to Skype! We'll be Skyping from the Barrott's home. I'll send more details next week or the week after.

So the main entertainment for the Christmas party got sick. Bishop Isaacson was trying to throw something together at the last minute but no entertainment seemed to be present. Guess who got to be the last-minute main entertainment? Woohoo!! It was divine intervention. I said I possibly could perform a Christmas solo on the piano if I could remember all of it. Bishop Isaacson leaped at the opportunity and had me play it. Before I played I said a prayer that I could remember the whole thing and I did it!! Woohoo!! It was "I Saw Three Ships" by John Schmidt, which I hadn't performed in 7 years. Luckily it stayed in my head! I got a lot of compliments on it afterwards. This ward is very validating. I just love them a lot! It was awesome!

Saturday we had our exchanges with Signal Mountain. I hosted this one in Kingsport with Sister Crapo. What's funny is that Sister Crapo was Sister Schwab's previous companion. So Sister Crapo was working in Hixson like . . . 2 weeks ago. And I barely know the area at all. So basically she was giving me suggestions about who we could go see and where everyone lived. It was a learning experience for both of us! It was a really good exchange though. We saw Donna and Sean again and had an excellent lesson on the Book of Mormon. They committed to read it! They won't come to church though. One step at a time. They'll be out of town for the holidays so sadly we won't be able to see them for a while. Only downside to proselyting during the holidays is that a lot of people will not be home. You win some, you lose some I guess. After Donna we saw Lisa, an investigator who has a son on a mission in Hawaii. She is not even semi interested in the gospel right now. It's kind of sad. She's really supportive of her son though, and that is inspiring. She's in our prayers! We also got a new investigator! Her name is Joan. She was investigating the church like 5 years ago and still wants to learn more! She likes to discuss religion academically, so this will be a bit of a challenge, but I'm excited to start working with her. She believes that the Book of Mormon is true, so she has a ton of potential!

Overall, good exchange. I love Sister Crapo. She has a lot of Sister Schwab's mannerisms, which I thought was pretty funny. It was fun for her to be back in Hixson again. I couldn't imagine going on an exchange back in Kingsport again. She did a fantastic job!

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day for me but I saw tender mercies throughout the entire day that completely made up for it. The elders gave us caramels, we got permission to take a nap because we had to get up at 5:15am for a meeting, and we had a fantastic lesson with a couple less-actives, James and Hayes. They haven't been to church in a long while, but we took a couple team-ups with us and they were really bold. By the end of the lesson James wanted to start coming to church again. It was so fantastic. The Church is true! And last night's devotional was amazing. We watched it at the church, and I sat behind this adorable 2 year old who kept me giggling the whole time. I gave her a sticker and she had a party and a half with it the entire hour. She's adorable! The devotional itself was also really good. It's my favorite one of the year. I love spending this time to contemplate the significance of the birth of our Savior. Jesus Christ truly gave everything for us. What are we willing to give back to Him this Christmas season? Food for thought!

Well family and friends, that's all I have for y'all this week. Good week. Good times. Good work. I love being a missionary. I love serving in Hixson. I love my companion. Sister Schwab is one of the most tender-hearted Christlike people I have ever met. We are practically best friends already, and I feel so blessed to have her as a companion. This Christmas is definitely going to be a good one! Just know I am happy, in good hands, and that I am praying for all y'all every chance I get! Until next week, all my favorite people!

-Sister Fox

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