Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let it Snow! Let it Sno..Wait. No. Make it Stop.

Some say the world will end in fire.
Tennesseans say in ice.
Since ice has ripped me from desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate,
to know that destruction ice,
is a huge pain.
Make it stop.

Hey y'all!! I'll give y'all three guesses as to what kind of weather we had in Tennessee these past couple weeks. Ok. Weirdest cultural phenomenon ever. So, in 1993 (if I had a nickel for every time I heard 'the Blizzard of '93 this week . . . ) apparently there was this huge snowstorm that shut down the state of Tennessee for 2 weeks, leaving thousands without electricity or transportation. The roads here are skinny, and because it is so humid, ice freezes fast to the roads and makes them hard to drive on. They have no snowplows, no salt for the backroads, nothing. Every time it snows the schools shut down, so they have to plan for 20+ snowdays every school year. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen! Even if the snow sticks just a little bit, the entire state shuts down. Restaurants close, schools let out, work lets out, people run to the nearest grocery store and empty the shelves of staples (mostly milk and bread) and shut themselves inside. What does that mean for missionary work? A whole lot of sitting inside and wishing that everyone learned to drive in Utah. :)

But it wasn't all bad. We actually had a really good week this week considering all the time we lost to the icy weather. Monday we had a fantastic p-day followed by a fantastic lesson with Daniel and Olivia. I love these two with all my heart. Can't say it enough!

Tuesday was the real adventure. It started snowing early in the morning, but that wasn't going to stop us Utah drivers from going to Knoxville. So we drove to Knoxville for MLC. I look forward to MLC like Christmas, so no weather was going to keep us from going. We drove down with the Zone Leaders and had a fantastic meeting with the rest of the mission leadership. After the meeting we walked outside and the snow was piling up on the roads. Which isn't very common in Tennessee. It doesn't snow all that often, and when it does, it doesn't stick like this. But it was totally stuck to the roads. So we were shuttled to the mission home for a warm dinner and got to stay the night! It was so fun! The missionaries who lived within an hour drive had to go home, but all of us missionaries who were about 2 hours away got to stay! One of those was Sister Day, who happens to be in Asheville, so we got to spend the night together! It was so much fun. We played games, laughed, talked about our missions, and had a fun time catching up with the other missionaries. It was like one giant sleepover of pure joy. And we got waffles in the morning! Bonus! I feel spoiled. Usually only goldens and missionaries who are going home get to spend the night in the mission home. :)

Wednesday was absolutely crazy. The snow seemed to melt pretty fast off the roads in my opinion, but nobody else from Tennessee seemed to think so. It was a clear drive from Knoxville down to Chattanooga and we made it with no problem. The ice was almost gone, just a rough patch here and there. Nothing compared to the ice in Utah. But EVERYONE was too scared to set foot outside. It was crazy. I've never seen anything like it. Every single appointment called and cancelled because they didn't want us out on the roads. So Sister Schwab and I weekly planned and then took it upon ourselves to go out and walk to the nearest neighborhood (Pres. Irion said no driving mission cars that day either). We tried to see Tori but she has some people living with her who really don't like us. One of them came to the door and swore when she saw us standing outside and left us out in the cold. Sister Schwab and I turned around and concluded that it was okay because we like the cold and she's still a child of God. Needless to say, we haven't been able to contact Tori at all. We did get in the door of a less active though! And we made some great progress with her. We talked about the importance of personal prayer and scripture study and she began to open up to us. She came to church last week! Wooohoo!! I love it when that happens. :)

Wednesday night we also had a huge tender mercy. So we walked to the nearest neighborhood, but it was actually 2 miles away. And by the time we left aforementioned less active's house, it was dark outside. And I wasn't about to walk home in that. We went to see the Adamz family *snap snap* and I concluded that Sister Adamz is the best human being alive. She let us warm up by her fire and then whipped us up a delicious meal in about 20 minutes, then drove us home. I. Love. Members. SO. Much.

Thursday we had a really good lesson with Angela, who is a less-active. She has hit a rough patch in her life lately and we taught her the importance of receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon. My mission has given me an entirely new perspective on the Book of Mormon. Even though it was written thousands of years ago, each of us can relate to it personally at every stage in life. We talked about moments we have had where we were able to find our own stories in the Book of Mormon. I related an experience when I found my own story in Alma 31. We challenged her to find her own story in the Book of Mormon, and I think it will go well!

Do you know what I love about Tennessee? Is that Tennesseeans will take their useless junk and put it on the side of the road and they don't care what happens to it next. Do you know what this means?? Free stuff for missionaries!! You know what they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Sister Schwab and I were trying to contact a less-active when we found an abandoned banana chair on the side of the road. It was pretty much in the same condition that mine is in back at home. So needless to say, we totally stuffed it in our trunk and now we have a banana chair! Today we're gonna take zebra duct tape to it. And we're really excited about it.

Friday we got a new investigator! There is a member in our congregation, Sister Ward, who is basically related to everyone in the city of Soddy Daisy. We go on team-ups with her a lot because she loves missionary work. She introduced us to her sister in law, who has been going through a rough time due to the recent death of her husband. We talked about the doctrine of eternal families and how the power to bind families together in heaven has been restored. She loved it and wants to learn more! We'll be teaching her later on this week. We're excited!

Friday night we had another awesome lesson with Daniel and Olivia, and we went over the practice interview questions. Passed with flying colors! They will be baptized this Saturday! Guess what?? The Leadership Conference Call this Saturday had to be rescheduled because the mission is going to be having 25 baptisms!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!! We're hearing rumors that there's supposed to be a huge snowstorm Friday night, so if that happens, the entire state with shut down Saturday. Prayers from the West Coast would be greatly appreciated. :)

Saturday we went back up to Knoxville to Elder Perry's leadership conference. Oh heavens. It was amazing. Words cannot do it justice. Elder Perry has an incredible presence, and when he speaks, you can truly feel that he speaks with the power and authority of God. The conference was two hours long and I wish I had time to include every thought, but here are some things that really stood out to me.

First, he said that we are so honored and blessed to be a part of the most important era in church history. He said that there have been some incredibly important events in the history of the church, but this era is the most important. The Lord is truly hastening His work, and He has given all of us the opportunity to be a part of it. This conference was for all leadership in the surrounding stakes, so he wasn't just talking to missionaries. He told us to never underestimate the power and authority that comes from our callings. We should always carry on with the assurance that God has called us to this position and this time for a reason. He wants us to help Him build His kingdom, and it is the most glorious work we can be a part of.

I loved his focus on individuals. He had one of the Relief Society Presidents stand up and he asked her how many members of her ward were in Relief Society. Then he asked her how many were less active. She said, "About . . . " before he cut her off. He asked another one and she said, "Approximately . . ." He called both of them out. It is so hard to keep track of less-actives out here because there are so many, but he said that we need to know every single one of our members by name. No more abouts, no more approximates. He also talked about how the work of salvation goes all the way to the temple. It's not just about find, teach, and baptize, but to help these people endure to the end. In each of our congregations are members who need someone to reach out to them and take them to the temple.

After his remarks we had a 1 hour question and answer session with Elder Perry, Elder Kopischke, and other members of the quoroum of the seventy. It was so revelatory. So many people asked questions about how to contact less-actives who have turned against the church, how we can get members to be less apathetic toward missionary work, and how we can combat discouragement. The univesral problem solver that came up again and again was enthusiasm. The leaders of the church need to be enthusiastic about their callings. All of us, might I add, need to be enthusiastic about our callings. Elder Perry said enthusiasm is contagious! We should all come out of our ward councils "like we've been shot out of a gun," in the words of Elder Perry. He told us that enthusiasm, patience, and perseverance will help us see success as we strive to build up our wards. He is in his 90s and he is full of energy and vitality. He drilled again and again how amazing it is that we get to build up zion during this period in history, and we should be excited about it!
He ended with the most incredible testimony I have ever heard from an apostle of the Lord (which is saying something). He talked about experiences he has had with the quorum of the twelve in the temple, and bore solemn testimony that we are not alone. He said with emphasis and vitality, "No man leads this church." God is with us, and He is in control. We must always trust that He has put us into our positions for a purpose, and He intends for His church to always be growing.

Like I said, words can't do it justice. I wish they would've broadcasted it worldwide, but I hope something in the summary above is penetrating.

Yesterday was awesome! I was so flippin' tired though. Can't complain, just had to get up early a few times this week, leaving me completely drained yesterday. We had an awesome Zone Conference though, followed by a fantastic lesson with Daniel and Olivia. We talked about the importance of going to church, praying, and reading. Church, Pray, Read, CPR. It clicked really well with them. Sister Schwab then asked why they wanted to be baptized, and Olivia said, "Because I want the church of Jesus Christ in my life" and Daniel said, "because I want to be closer to God." I just about exploded with happiness. It was the best feeling ever. Missionary work is the best thing ever. Can't say it enough!

We also have another new investigator! His name is Ethan, and he is 9. He wants to be baptized!! So we set a date with him yesterday for March 1! Awesome. We are so excited! I love how much I've been able to work with kids and youth on my mission. Teaching them is my favorite thing on the planet. I'm so grateful for my opportunities!

And I am so out of time! But I hope y'all know how much I appreciate the love and support! I have the best family and friends ever. :) I feel the strength from your prayers every day, and it means the world to me! So thank you!!

Saturday we find out about transfers. I have a gut feeling Sister Schwab is leaving me because she has been in the area for six months. :( But I also have a feeling that my next companion is going to be awesome, and I'm determined to see Hixson continue to grow! Next Monday y'all will get to hear the news, and the following week we will see who my new companion will be.

Love y'all! Have a fantastic week!!

-Sister Fox

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