Monday, March 3, 2014

What is a Miracle?

Hello Friends and Family!!
 
This week was also painfully slow. Because when you get on the internet and tell the world you're trying to learn patience, God seizes that opportunity and showers you with plenty of experiences that will allow you to exercise patience if you choose to. But I still stand by what I said before, praying for patience is not praying for trials. You will get trials regardless. Praying for patience is praying for strength when the trials hit. End of short sermon.

Sister Day and I wrote a new song! It goes to the tune of the beloved Primary Children's Song, "What do you do in the Summertime?" It goes like this:

What do you do when appointments fall through,
As a missionary?
Do you sit in the car
And deliberate
Watching the time go by?
Is that what you do?
So do I.

Because. That's what we were reduced to this week. A lot. After all our plans and backup plans fell through and it was too dark to knock on random strangers' doors. But!! Good things still happened and I still learned a lot. God is so good to us. :)

Do you know what slow days do to a missionary? Or slow weeks, I should say? They make missionaries work harder. Because missionaries get desperate for teaching opportunities. So they try to be even more obedient. And even more diligent. And go way outside the boundaries of their comfort zone because at some point they are desperate to build their teaching pool. So these past weeks have been good for me. With Sister Schwab it was easier to talk to strangers because I would let her do all the talking. She is very social and loves talking to random strangers. I was not born with that talent; Sister Day and I are both fairly shy-ish. We've definitely improved in the last 14 months, but there's plenty of room for more improvement. We've been trying so hard to increase our teaching pool that we have gone out of the boundaries of our comfort zones multiple times this week. There was one moment in particular that was my favorite:

Sister Day and I were at a gas station, and I decided I should talk to the guy getting gas across the parking lot. Only problem was, he was across the parking lot. And we were filling the car with gas. And cars were whizzing past the busy highway. It was noisy. So I stood my ground and decided to project. They tell you to just open your mouth and words come out, so I found myself doing that and ended up saying/shouting: "COME HERE OFTEN????"  Brilliant. He thought it was funny and laughed, and I asked him his name, and then we exchanged small talk, and then we offered to share him a message about Jesus Christ and the Restoration of the Gospel and he said no. But. I am really proud of myself for being able to do that because that is not something I would have done back at home. I've learned that really awkward conversations aren't even that bad. And they're a way of showing God you're willing to act on promptings, no matter how awkward the situation may seem. So. Learning experience, I guess. "Come here often?" is now the inside joke of the district.
Monday night we did have a really good experience with a less active named Steven. He left the church years ago and we're not sure why, but we know he was really bitter and against it for several years. He went completely athiest. He really opened up to us though, and he committed to reading the Book of Mormon! Woohoo! His dad was thrilled; he's an active member of the church. I really do love working with less-actives. I feel like that is where we find most of our success in Soddy Daisy.

Tuesday we found a potential family of four. One of them is a less-active who had the wrong address on the roster. We found the right place and met her husband and two kids, who are looking for a church. So . . . potential! Hopefully that works out. If not I'm sure God has something else in store, even though He's not showing us right away.

Wednesday we went on power-ups with two different areas. Sister Day went to Athens, which was fun for her because she served there for a while. I went to Cleveland. Cleveland is doing really well; they were struggling at first with their teaching pool but they have found several golden investigators who are about to be baptized! Woohoo! I got to meet one of them, and he's awesome. He referred himself on mormon.org. That certainly doesn't happen often. I'm really happy for them. We're having a lot of success/miracles in the zone right now, so that's something to be excited about!

Thursday we met with Gatona; the less-active who cried when we gave her the Book of Mormon. She desperately wants us to teach her husband, who is fairly open to taking the lessons, but every appointment we made with them fell through this week. I guess it's not time yet or God has something else in mind. Sometimes missionary work feels like a lot of guesswork. But we try the best we can and wait for God's arm to be revealed. And it always is, even if it takes a while. Everything else fell through on Thursday and I don't really remember what we did instead. I'm sure it was important though.

Friday we had an appointment with the aforementioned family of four but it dropped. We had the feeling to drop in on a less-active before returning to our weekly planning, so we did and she ended up needing a lot of help in her yard. So we drove home, put on our work clothes, and helped dig out bulbs from her dead garden. It was actually really fun! I miss doing yardwork (yes, I know, I'm crazy). She even let me take a hammer to her planting boxes to take them apart! That was the fun part. Great way to relieve stress. :)

Saturday we had another really good appointment with Hayes. We took a couple members of the ward with us and we taught him the Plan of Salvation. When people aren't coming to church or doing anything to feed their spirituality, it's because they lack eternal perspective. It went really well, and it helped him understand the importance of the decisions we make here in this life. He and his dad promised they would be at church, but they didn't show. :( In fact, we were expecting 3 less active families, a family of recent converts, and 3 investigators and none of them showed. Rough day yesterday. Once again, lesson in patience. God's will, God's timing. :)
Saturday we also had a really good lesson with the Smith family, who are also less-active. We taught them the Plan of Salvation as well, and it was cool to see them get involved in the lesson. At first they weren't progressing at all. They wouldn't keep appointments and would get annoyed when we would drop by. But lately they've been holding appointments, contributing to lessons, and reading their scripture assignments. Slowly, but surely! They just need to get to church. All in due time.

Sunday, despite the lack of attendance at church, was actually pretty good. Well, before all our appointments fell through. We did get to see Shirley again though!! She's back in the health center we volunteer at. It was great to see her again; we've been trying to find her for two weeks. She agreed to have us come back and teach her the lessons (she's inactive and she's forgotten mostly everything) and her roommate (who is not a member) said she would love to learn! Her granddaughter (who is also not a member) said she would be interested too! So . . . potential!
Sunday evening, because our appointments fell through, we decided to drop in on Ethan and his mom. His mom was home and let us in to teach him! I don't have time to explain why that was a miracle, but I'm just going to take the liberty right now to say that it was a miracle. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he loved it! We had him draw it out on a piece of paper as we went along, and he took the liberty of drawing Sister Day and I burning in spirit prison. Disclaimer: He really loves us. He's just a goof. :) He's way fun to teach; he is the funniest kid with more spunk and vitality than I have seen in any other child. Teaching Ethan is always the highlight of my week!

So, there ya have it. Slow week, with good things still happening here and there. This week I actually focused a little less on patience and a little more on miracles. I was thinking about the email I wrote last week about wondering what happened to the miracles. I took the liberty to study miracles this week and loved the definition I found in the bible dictionary. It says that miracles, basically, are manifestations of God's hand in our lives. When God is with us, miracles happen naturally as a result. I decided to write down all the miracles--or all the times I've seen God's hand working in my life--so far this transfer. Though it has been extremely slow since the Transfer of Miracles has begun, I still was able to get a solid page of miracles I have seen.

Do you know what's a miracle? The fact that my best friend since elementary school is my missionary companion, who has been assigned to me during the transfer uncoincidentally dubbed, "The Transfer of Miracles."

Do you know what else is a miracle? The fact that I could escape the bounds of my comfort zone this week and approach completely random strangers in the most awkward and uncomfortable situations to share the Gospel. #Comehereoften??? (Yes, Sister Schwab got me in the habit of speaking in hashtags. Deal with it. :P)

Do you know what else is a miracle? That even though every appointment fell through this week and we had the hardest time finding something to do, we were always able to find something to do, or find something to learn, or basically find a way to accomplish our purpose each and every day.

We have three less-active families progressing in the gospel.

We have two athiests who are praying again.

We have a child who wants to be baptized and his family is finally starting to rally around him for support.

I saw a gorgeous sunset a few days ago.

The weather has been gorgeous every single day.

I have more energy than I have had in a long time.

Millions of people are praying for me.

Several friends are still writing me despite my inability to return their letters.

And I'm learning patience.

This week I have learned so much about the key to patience. It's looking for miracles in our lives. They happen every single day. Obvious and subtle. Happiness really comes from increasing our efforts to look for God's hand in our lives and acknowledging His hand each time it is manifest, whether it be grand or subtle. It's a great attribute to have, actually. I think I'll call it gratitude. :) When we are grateful for what we have, it is easier to be patient. Are these the miracles I was expecting and hoping for? Some of them. Not all of them. But they're enough to let me know that God is still walking beside me each and every day, He is hearing and answering my prayers, and He is still guiding and directing His work, even if it's something I cannot see with my natural eyes. I can feel that every day God is subtlely clicking pieces into place to allow for growth and change to occur in the hearts of His children in this area. I can't see it, but I know it's happening. I may not be able to reap what I've sown in this area, but I know I'm making a difference, because I've been doing all I can to do God's will. These are some of the slowest weeks I've had, but I still have the comfort of knowing God is with me and Sister Day. So we keep pushing. Good things are coming. And we're learning in the waiting. :)
I think back to the scripture in Nephi where Nephi explains why Laman and Lemuel were complaining all the time. I don't have time to look up the reference, but it is something along the lines of, "They murmured because they knew not the dealings of God." Points to whoever finds the reference. When we don't make the effort to try to understand God's will for us in our lives, of course we are going to complain and be impatient when the hard times hit. But when we allow ourselves to hope, and we try to see God's hand in our lives, we can be patient and be happy here and now, while we are waiting. Through small and simple things great things are brought to pass. :)

Well friends and family, this email is pretty short, but so is my time. So! I hope you all know that I love you. I'm praying for you. I'm grateful for all that you have done for me. All of you are personal miracles in my life. Each letter/email is a miracle because each one contains something I need to hear to keep me going. They serve as gentle reminders that God is aware of me and He wants to help me. :) So thank you all so much! God bless! Until next week! Which, by the way, will be Tuesday again because of Zone Conference on Monday (I don't know why they're doing that to us again but I can't complain). So, until next Tuesday! Love y'all!!

-Sister Fox

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