Monday, January 6, 2014

Spirit of Elijah

Hello Family and Friends and Fantastic People!

Another week come and gone, and this one felt particularly slow. Which is funny because usually they fly. After all the holiday commotion, life, and missionary work entirely, has slowed down drastically. We spent the first half the week looking for things to do, which is something I havne't been used to for a couple months. The rest of the week sped up though, so that was nice. I'll be honest, the first few days after Christmas were rough. It seemed as if the work hit a brick wall, and all I really wanted to do was hit my head against it repeatedly. But! It did get better. After the trial cometh the blessings!

So, this week was New Year's Eve. It wasn't very eventful, but I say we get points for effort. We had another delicious dinner at the Isaacsons, who were the ones who fed us on Christmas eve. It was delicious! Their father is a professional cook, so he always makes delicious things. He made a ton of different kinds of finger foods, and then they sent it all home with us. I love that family! No special exceptions applied to New Year's Eve, so we went to bed at 10:30. But! Come on. You have to usher in the new year. So Sister Schwab and I set the alarm for 11:57, grabbed some sparkling cider from the fridge, and took a sparkly plastic ornament off the Christmas tree. Atmidnight we chucked the ornament down the stairs. It was the closest we could get to seeing the ball drop. Stop laughing. Happy 2014!!

So, question! This is perfectly random. But. I'm unusually tired. Nothing to worry about, but I thought I'd ask RMs and family members for advice? We stick to the white handbook and get 8 hours of sleep every night, and I'm trying my best to eat healthy, but I feel unusually exhausted. I exercise too, 20-30 minutes a day. Insanity is wearing me out, so I do the warm-up and then do my own stuff for 15 minutes. I bought a multivitamin today in case I'm deficient, but does anyone else have any extra advice? I'm way tired. And my eye has been twitching on and off for 2 weeks. You think I'm kidding. No, I am not going insane.

Despite being tired, I am very happy! The work has been going well. Granted, this week got off to a rocky start, but things have been going well and I still love being a missionary! It is, in fact, the best thing ever. And I'm excited to write this email!

Might as well start off with the less-than-good things so we can get to the good stuff. We lost six investigators this week. One of them came as no surprise. He's a 17-year-old boy and started hitting on us hard core. We told him we don't date as missionaries and since then he has made no contact. Silly boy. It happens. Maybe we'll send some elders his way and see if he's interested in the message instead of the messengers. We lost Kim and her two daughters as well. Kim is very open minded and friendly, but her mom is a strong Methodist, so she is going to start attending the Methodist church with her mother. Ah well. She has friends and support in the ward so I know she's not gone for good. It's kind of sad though. And we lost John and Johnathan. I don't think I've even mentioned them. Sis Schwab OYMed Johnathan in the library and he seemed very interested in learning more. But this week we found out that he feigned interest so he could try to convert us to his faith. Sister Schwab taught him the Restoration on exchanges and said it went well, and this week was our return appointment. So we met up with him and his friend at Starbucks and they started subtly trying to convince us that our message is false. They pulled out the famous scripture in Revelations and tried to cross us with questions. I love the Spirit! I was praying my heart out at the beginning of the lesson that we wouldn't be confounded, because I could see instantly what they were trying to do. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't cross us in our words or confound us with questions. I attribute it all to the Spirit, and I'm so grateful that it was there! We finally left after one of them started pulling out false "evidences" that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself. I don't typically get angry until someone insults the prophet and denies the divinity of the Book of Mormon without cracking it open. It made my blood boil a bit, but I didn't let it show. We bore testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and his divine calling, as well as the divinity of the Book of Mormon. God is the source of all truth and cannot lie. If the Book of Mormon is true, our message is true. If you want to know our message is true, pray to God and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. The formula is provided for us. So many people try to discredit the restored Gospel by looking at "facts" and scriptures that they do not fully understand. If you want to know that it's true, put it to the test! It's like discovering for yourself whether or not you've found a real diamond. You can look up diamonds on the internet and see if it looks like the diamond you found. You can measure it, weigh it, and start philosophizing with other people about it. Or you can put it to the test and see if anything will scratch it. Same basic principle. Ahem. Anyway. Sermon over. We told them to pray about it and left. I hope they do. People deny themselves of so many incredible blessings simply because they do not want to continue searching for truth. I pray that one day they will!

We didn't see Tori this week. We haven't been able to meet with her for 2 weeks because her life has gotten crazy. Opposition strikes right after the baptismal commitment, every time. She is in our prayers, and we are desperately praying for a miracle to get back in the door!

But once again, the good outweighed the bad this week! It always does. :) We had a ton of miracles this week, and I attribute it to the truthfulness of our Gospel message and the Spirit of Elijah. The central theme that popped out of the work this week was eternal families. The message that our families can be together forever penetrates hearts and awakens in others a desire to find out how. We saw that over and over this week. I have a testimony of eternal families! Here it goes:

Miracle #1: Chad and Megan
We have been working with a family of investigators for the past few weeks, but we mainly focus on Austin. He is the athiest who doesn't really have a desire to believe in God. His uncle usually sits in on our lessons, but he hasn't said much. Once again we went over, and the lessno almost once again turned into a "let's try to convince Austin there is a God." As much as I wish we could, he will only receive that witness once he has a desire to exercise his faith. So we turned to Chad and started focusing on his faith. His wife Megan sat in on the lesson for the first time and asked a question about our doctrine concerning family relationships after death. She grew up Baptist, and they believe that we will recognize loved ones in the next life, but the relationship will no longer exist. We told her that family relationships can be perpetuated beyond the grave through sacred covenants we make with God. Our families truly can be together forever, and she will always be Chad's wife and the mother of her children. That penetrated her heart and we both started to cry.The Spirit was so thick you could cut it with a knife. She and Chad want to learn more! Ah! I love this Gospel!

Miracle #2: Sherman
Sherman is so humble. His life is rough, and he doesn't really have a family. What I love about this Gospel is that it's all about relationships and building unity with other people. Our family situations may be less than desirable, but we are to love and care about each other as we all go through life together. We told him that our congregation is like our family. As we have been away from our own families, we have felt the connection and the love from other ward members. We told him that he will find family-like love and support as he attends church. He has come the past couple weeks because his half-sister is in the ward. We taught him the Restoration and focused on the blessings we receive when we follow the prophet and keep the commandments of God. After the lesson he responded, "You girls are gonna have to tell me what I need to do!" It was a King Lamoni's father moment. He understood how this Gospel would bless him in this life and in the eternities, and he was willing to do anything to get it. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted! It is a miracle we found him in the first place. And this ward is incredible. They have reached out to him so much already, and they are willing to help him get back on his feet. I love this Gospel. It really does bless your life! We learn "by their fruits ye shall know them." I have seen nothing but good flow into the lives of those who accept the Gospel. It doesn't erase their challenges, but it provides them with the strength they have desperately been searching for throughout their lives. The Church is true!

Miracle #3: Barbara
Barbara lives in a nursing home that we volunteer at every weekend. The man in charge had nothing for us to do, so we decided to go around and visit people. We popped in on Barbara and decided to sing her a hymn. We're done with Christmas carols, so we just started pulling out our favorite hymns. We sang one of them, I don't remember which one, and she requested that we do another one. Sister Schwab opened up to "Families Can Be Together Forever." So we sang that one. The Spirit was incredible. We finished the song, "I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can." After we finished she said, "How?" We replied, "Pardon?" She replied, "In the song, you said that the Lord can show us how to be with our families forever. How? I want to know how!" We were not expecting that. We told her that our message teaches us that through making promises under God's priesthood authority our family relationships can exist throughout the eternities. We invited her to take the discussions and she accepted! The Church is true and the Gospel blesses families!

Miracle #4: John
Different John than the one mentioned above. We sang a Christmas carol to him last week because his neighbor, who is a member, requested it. At first he didn't let us in, but after his 7-year-old granddaughter started nailing us with questions he invited us in. At first he wasn't interested, but we started talking about families and family history and that sparked his interest. He requested a return appointment, so we went back to his house this pastSaturday and taught the restoration. It went really well! We sparked his interest in the Book of Mormon and he said he would read and pray about it! Woohoo!! The Church is true!

Miracle #5: Melanie
Melanie is a less-active member of the church, and her kids aren't baptized. It has been hard for her to get to church because her husband is so against it. It has been hard to even get in the door. We knocked on her door yesterday and there was no answer. We were turning to leave when we saw her mom, who is an active member of the church, pull up in the driveway. She said, "I can get you in the door," and she did! We all sat down and talked about how the Gospel unites families in this life and in the next. Christ's message truly is centered on the family. Our words penetrated her heart and I could tell she desired these blessings for her family. She invited us to come back and have a family home evening with her and her kids! Her husband is against it, so we are still praying that his heart will soften. This was a huge breakthrough though; we have been trying to get in her door for months. The Church is true and the Gospel blesses families!

Miracle #6: Smiths
I attribute this miracle to the Spirit of Elijah. Some people may not be interested in hearing about what we believe, but millions of hearts are being touched by the Spirit of Elijah. Peope want to know about their ancestry. People love their families! It's a fact of life! If you ever get stuck in a conversation, always ask them about their family, and more than likely (especially in the South) they will want to talk to you for hours about their families and their family history. It is a FANTASTIC missionary tool. familysearch.org is an incredible website; I've been checking it out during the extra hour of computer time we are allotted each week. I didn't realize how cool it is! I have such a strong testimony of using family history in missionary work. We shared a lesson about family history with the Smiths, a less-active family in the ward that we have been working with for months. I talked about my favorite family history story from They Came Alone about Mary Wanlass and they thought it was pretty spectacular. They want to start looking up their roots as well. They agreed to meet with the bishop to get their membership records and get started! This may not seem like a huge step, but it is quite the breakthrough.

So POOF! There ya have it! The Gospel message is not just a message of hope for individuals; it's a message of hope for families. Families can be together forever. We can be with our loved ones for eternity, never subject to the possibility of permanent separation. This is why I'm on a mission. I've left my family for 18 months so I can help other families be together forever, and that is the message that brings hope back into people's lives. That is what sparks interest. Eternal life is family life. And I am so grateful for this opportunity to share it with people!

Well, sadly, I am out of time. I love you all! I love being a missionary. I'm exhausted but I'm happy because I'm doing the will and work of the Lord. Nothing is more satisfying. I can feel the strength of y'alls prayers every single day. Thank you for offering them on my behalf. I hope and pray that mine reciprocate. Love y'all!! Have a fantastic week!

-Sister Fox

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