Hello friends and family!!
I am SO tired. I'm at least 14 kinds of tired. I don't think I've been this tired in my entire life. But it's a good kind of tired, and the Spirit is particularly talented at giving you the exact amount of energy you need every day to be productive. So! Still happy and well!
This week was so different. It was perfectly amazing. We saw so many miracles, and I saw a lot of changes in myself. I love missionary work. I love experiencing the rapid growth and witnessing rapid growth in others first-hand. Every single day my appreciation and love for my calling increases more and more. My heart grows more and more attached to the people here in Tennessee, and it breaks a little more at the end of each day knowing that it won't last forever. Turns out when you give your whole heart to a work, it's bound to break when the work is done. But it's the most glorious heartbreak one can ever experience. It's more than worth the difficulties that surround you on every side. The rewards cannot be put into words; they can only be felt through experience. I wish I had the eloquence to adequately express the profound joy that comes from being a missionary. It's this kind of joy that I wish would last forever. It's comforting to know that one day it will. :)
Monday we met with Austin and Megan again. Austin and Steven are so similar. They believe there could be a God, but they have little desire to really find out. I try to relate the best that I can, but I can't connect with the apathy. That is probably the strongest force that is keeping people from their potential, and the hardest thing to combat. It is so rewarding though, when desires and behavior change through learning the doctrine of Jesus Christ. They have a profound effect on people. Though Austin and Steven are not progressing very quickly, I still see a change in them. A little bit of light begins to grow as they decide to read the Book of Mormon. Even if I do not get the opportunity to witness their conversion, I feel pretty confident that they will gain a testimony for themselves one day. One step at a time. :)
Tuesday we spent most of the day finding and didn't have much success, but Sister Day and I have seen success in ourselves. It has been easier to go outside the boundaries of our comfort zones to spread the Gospel, and our approach is really improving (even though "Come here often??" is pretty hard to beat . . . ).
Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Signal Mountain sisters. They have been together for three transfers, so it was fun bringing Sister Crapo back to the area for a second time. She worked here with Sister Schwab in the past, so it was fun showing her how the area has grown and changed since our last exchange and since she served in the area herself. She has grown a lot too! Best thing about being a Sister Training Leader is witnessing the growth and the confidence boost in other missionaries. She is a firecracker! We spent the day going from one appointment to the next, which felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the slower pace of the past couple of weeks. One lesson that was particularly noteworthy was the one we had with Barbara. She is very in tune to the spirit and really wanted to know what happens to us after we die. We had a powerful lesson on the plan of salvation and she agreed to be baptized! We set a date for the end of March, but she really wants to gain her own personal testimony before she makes any life-changing decisions. So the date is subject to change, but I am glad that she understands the importance of gaining her own personal witness. That helps us know as missionaries if people are truly ready to be baptized. I'm so proud of her and excited for her progress!! She's like a grandmother to me. I love her!
After we talked to Barbara we OYMed a couple people in the facility and got a couple new investigators! We were also able to see Shirley; a long-lost member we recently found. She expressed her desire to get back into church and go to the temple once she gets well again. It truly is a miracle that we found her. We were able to hunt down her records and get members to fellowship her back into the church. The one of the ninety and nine has been found. There's no feeling like it. :)
Wednesday evening we were able to meet a new investigator for the first time, whose name is Vivian. Turns out she knows Daniel and Olivia! Small world. :) We taught her the Restoration and she accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon along with the challenge to read and pray about it. She is pretty promising; I'm excited to work with her. She won't be around all next week, so we'll have to wait for some time before we can teach her again. Bother.
Thursday morning we met with Nina before district meeting. We were able to teach her the Restoration and she believed everything. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and told her to read and pray about it the lesson before, and she had! She says she believes it's the word of God. She accepted to be baptized in April! And the date we extended just happened to be her birthday! She was surprised that we didn't know beforehand that it was her birthday. She knew that it was inspired! She's pretty solid. She has had people after her on all sides, attacking our faith and beliefs. She has stood her ground and has defended our faith with every verbal attack. She is so solid. I'm so excited to see her progress. There is already a light in her eyes that wasn't there before. I love seeing the change in others, as well as in the atmosphere of their homes. The Spirit can create miraculous changes in people. Witnessing those changes first-hand is the most incredible experience of my life. :)
Thursday night we also got to see Ethan and teach him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That kid is still a crack up! He said something about being a "human bean." We asked him what kind of bean. We started brainstorming what kind of beans that he could be, "Black bean? String bean? Kidney bean?" Sean, his mom's boyfriend, said, "More like a kidney stone. . ." And the three of us just busted up laughing. This family is the best. :)
Friday we did our weekly planning and then met with Barbara again to read the Book of Mormon with her. We also met with Shirley, then went to go see Daniel and Olivia. We had a really good lesson with Daniel and Olivia about Lehi's dream. We talked about the symbolism and the importance of continually holding fast to the rod throughout our lives so we can make it to the temple and ultimately the kingdom of God. Daniel was blowing my mind with the interpretations he pulled out of the scriptures. His spiritually has increased so dramatically and it has been the coolest thing to see! I just love this family so much. :)
Saturday we had a really good women's conference as a stake. We went to three different workshops and I learned more about maintaining peace in the home, family history, and fighting depression. Three very different topics, but they were all very interesting. I would go into detail but my time is going a lot faster than I would like. Bother. We also had a fantastic lesson with Amanda and Anthony, a couple less-actives in the ward. Sister Day and I have discovered that it helps investigators keep their commitments when they have a vision for where they want to be. Helping them set goals helps them change. We thought we would do the same with the less-actives in the ward and we have seen a few breakthroughs. We plainly asked if they wanted to go back to the temple and Amanda expressed her feelings that she wants to have her family sealed in the temple. We told them we want to help them reach that goal, and I think they're pretty excited! Sadly they didn't come to church due to getting sick. Everyone gets sick on Sundays. I think that if people get up and go to church anyway, they wouldn't feel sick anymore. Just my two cents.
Sunday was MLC! It was the best MLC I've been to since I became a Sister Training Leader 7 months ago. We talked about chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel and I received a ton of personal revelation as to how to help my investigators make and keep commitments, because that is one of the biggest roadblocks we have had to deal with. We also talked a lot about what it means to be a consecrated missionary, and being willing to sacrifice everything in order to do God's work. I also got to see Sister Schwab! And there was much rejoicing. :) She nailed me so hard with a hug that she knocked off my nametag. It was so good to see her! We did a lot of catching up and it was cool to report all the miracles occurring in Soddy Daisy. :) I just love her so much! I have had. The BEST. Companions. :)
We had the area seventy come to MLC this month and it was cool hearing his remarks. I've seen him dozens of times, simply because he's the area seventy. Well, Sunday morning we had to get up at 5:30 for correlation. Which really felt like 4:30. #daylightsavings. 4:30 + 3 hours of meetings + 2 hours of driving = braindead missionary. So the Area Seventy comes up to me as I walk in the door and shakes my hand and I say, "You look really familiar; have I met you before?" And then he said he was the Area Seventy. To which I replied, "Oh. That's embarrassing." He laughed really hard. :)
After MLC we met with the Area Seventy (I forgot his name so that's why I keep calling him that. #braindeadmissionary) and the Stake Presidents in the mission. We had a fantastic meeting about setting goals for number of baptisms per missionary per year. We set a goal together and all prayed together about it. Words could not describe the spirit that entered the room as we, the leadership of the mission and of the area, bowed our heads in prayer and sought revelation from God. Spiritual experiences like these are hard to describe, but they leave a strong imprint on your heart. Like I said, there are no words. Just profound feelings of love and gratitude.
Monday I was especially tired because it was supposed to be p-day but it wasn't and we didn't get to bed until 11:00 the night before due to MLC. So . . . still a braindead missionary. But! We had a fantastic zone meeting. It was one of the most life-changing zone meetings I have been to. And I couldn't really tell you why or how. We received revelation that really helped us click with our purpose as missionaries: to help others come unto Christ by helping them receive His restored gospel. I walked away with a greater sense of purpose than ever before, and it has shown in the way Sister Day and I have been approaching people on the street and how we work with them in lessons. The spirit is so much stronger, and I feel a greater love for the work and for these people than ever before. We had an incredible OYMing experience outside of Sister Ward's house. We met Tim, who has been struggling with his spirituality. We began to talk with him about Jesus Christ and His atonement, and Tim agreed to take the lessons and be baptized! He profusely thanked us and said no one has been so concerned for the welfare of his soul before. I had just met him and yet I felt a profound desire to see his life turn around. You develop a love for people as a missionary that cannot be put into words. It is the best work. Ever.
We also had a really good lesson with James and Hayes, and yet another successful OYMing experience. Things are clicking into place, and Sister Day and I are so tired but happier than ever to be missionaries and to be working together. This really is the greatest work. I love it so much. I wish I could adequately express it. I am so grateful that God has given me this opportunity to aid Him in His work, and for the incredible experiences I have had thus far. More is yet to come! It's not over yet and I am fixed with a determination to make the most of every second God has given me. I love this. I never want it to end, but when it does, I am excited to use the things I have learned to continue blessing lives.
Family and friends, I love you all so much. No words to describe that love either. :) Thank you so much for your emails and for your love and support. Have the best of weeks and I will write y'all again next week!