Monday, April 14, 2014

Hope Returns

Hello Friends and Family and other Fantastic Blog Readers whose names I do not know unless you send me a letter and tell me!

This week was pretty good! And I don't have much time to write about it because I got carried away in my novel-long responses to individual emails.

That does not mean y'all should stop sending individual emails because I live for those.

What happened this week? Not much, actually. But it still *felt* good. And that's what made the difference I guess. As for the work, it has been painfully slow still. This week I discovered how a difference in attitude can change your entire experience, even if you are experiencing the same mundane events every single day. Pretty cool, huh? We'll get to that later.

It wasn't all mundane though. Oh heavens. Buckle up as I tell you about my Chatt Branch exchange.

Chatt Branch. So you know how I told y'all that Chatt Branch was similar to Salt Lake City? That was a filthy lie because I didn't want to scare anyone. But now that I'm 99.5% sure that I'm never going back there I can say that it was a very exciting and slightly terrifying exchange.

Ok so that sounds a bit dramatic. It wasn't that terrifying. Only when we went into the ghettos to hunt down some less actives. Luckily everyone who saw us walking down the street left us alone. I truly believe that missionaries are divinely protected. And the only reason I'm writing all this is because I have a pretty cool experience.

So, we're in the ghettos, right? Well it's 5:45 and Sister Button has the feeling that we need to leave the area ASAP. I actually felt pretty safe, because Sister Button did some law enforcement before her mission and was planning on entering the academy upon returning home. #cop. She could take on just about anyone. But she receives this prompting that we need to get out of there NOW. This is a bike and bus area, so we took the bus about 15 miles away from home and just walked around looking for less actives. Sister Button checks the bus schedule and the next one is due at 7:00. The Spirit doesn't want us to leave at 7:00. The Spirit wants us to leave now. Sister Button whipped out the phone and started calling members left and right, but NO ONE is answering the phone. Well now we're feeling kind of uneasy. But after a quick prayer, guess what happens? We turn around and here comes this bus. Out of nowhere! We thankfully get on and it takes us back to downtown, where we enjoy a lovely dinner at Jimmy Johns and a member picks us up to take us home. Sister Button checked the bus schedule three times over and could not find that bus anywhere on the schedule.

Coincidence? I think not. I thanked God on probably 50 separate occasions that night for that bus. Everyone is surprised that sisters are serving in that area, but I know they are divinely protected. I've heard story after story of miraculous occurrences that happen over there to keep them safe. Prayers of family members and friends are definitely working! So thanks y'all!

Wednesday morning we had a cool experience at the Health Care Center we volunteer at. They through a volunteer breakfast, where we had the opportunity to mingle with all the other volunteers. Turns out that most of the people who volunteer there are associated with different religious groups. It was cool to all come together and talk about the blessings that come from serving others. I even had a really good conversation about eternal rewards with a Presbyterian. Sometimes it can get frustrating when I'm trying to share the things that I know and love with people who have their own philosophies already. But I truly love the South. I love how good and devout people are here. In the end, we all believe in Christ. We all understand that it's time we reach out with love and service one toward another. There are so many good people down here, and it's a true blessing to serve among them.

The rest of Wednesday was particularly dead. As characterized by this conversation I had with the Zone Leaders after I called an emergency correlation with our Ward Mission Leader after all our plans had fallen through:

Bro Adamz (WML): I'm grateful that we were able to meet tonight.
Me: I'm just grateful for something to do.
Zone Leaders: That's why we make *backup* plans, Sister Fox.
Me: We DID make backup plans! They fell through too!!
Zone Leaders: And the backup plan to the backup plan is always . . . ?
Me: FINDING! That's why I CALLED this meeting!!

Sister Day and I have had to resort to a lot of tracting lately. At first I couldn't stand it, but it's starting to grow on me. Like I said earlier in the email, attitude really is everything. Tracting can be super fun or perfectly terrible depending on your attitude that day. It's all about perspective.

We did meet a new less active on Wednesday! Her name is Charla. She is super friendly and open and won't come back to church and won't tell us why. She wants to meet with us though, so it'll be fun to start working with her again! Because we're losing so many investigators, it has been a blessing to meet a few more individuals whom we can work with. There's always at least one person in every area who needs your help. Granted, you work 60 hours a week (yeah we calculated it. This doesn't include meal time or study time) proselyting, and you can't spend it all on one person, so it's easy to feel like your area is dead, but it's always a blessing making a difference in the life of another person.

Thursday we had district meeting and a relief society activity and that's all that I can remember.

Friday we saw Nina again! We read Alma 40 with her and taught her the rest of the Plan of Salvation. That is my favorite lesson to teach. It helps people see how merciful God is and how His plan is truly a plan that is meant to make each of us happy. Heaven is so attainable! All the commandments He gives us are for our benefit and prepare us for eternal joy. This Gospel is so purely fantastic; teaching it is the best thing ever.

Saturday we met with Shirley again, and then we dropped in on Angela, who has been super busy as of late. We did other things too, I know it. I just. Don't remember what they were.

Sunday we had a baby blessing, so there were a lot of visitors at the church. One huge tender mercy of this week was Amanda. She just moved in by Sister Larose, and it turns out that they went to highschool together! Amanda has been looking for a church and she came with Sister Larose yesterday! And loved it! They want us over to teach the first discussion on Thursday. Fingers crossed!!

Sadly we didn't get to see Ethan this week but hopefully we'll be seeing him tonight. Teaching that kid is the highlight of my week.

We've been seeing Ronnie too, and he came to church for the first time yesterday! He loved it too. We talked about the Plan of Salvation in Gospel Principles and he loved it. He's excited for his baptism! Right now we're trying to help him quit smoking, so if everybody could pray for him that would be fantastic!!

And that's all for this week. There were a lot of long days, but Sister Day and I have been exceptionally happy. I attribute the newfound attitude to the perspective I've obtained from my morning studies. I decided that I would start studying hope again. The change was surprisingly dramatic. I didn't realize I had lost so much of what I gained 3-4 months ago when I began studying hope. It was like visiting a long-lost friend. Y'all have probably noticed in my last few emails that Sister Day and I had been fighting a battle with discouragement, and it was looking pretty dismal. But as I started studying the joy of eternal life, and the hope that comes only through Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, my attitude completely changed all over again. It surprised me how quick we forget some of the principles of the Gospel that will change our lives only if we put them into practice! It really is all about perspective. What this world needs is hope. After Conference especially, people all around us have been expressing their fear left and right about the terrors that this world has to offer. It's true, it is frightening. But we must always remember that the victory is already won. Jesus Christ conquered all fear, sorrow, pain, and even death so we could taste the joy of eternal life. He truly is the source of all hope. When we turn our thoughts toward Him, hope returns. Elder F. Enzio Busche once said, "Put all grumblings, hurt feelings, and frustrations into the perspective of eternal hope. Light will flow into your soul." I can testify to that. The results are immediate. Like when Alma the Younger almost completely surrendered himself to the despair and the horror that came from his sins and misdeeds. Once he remembered Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, he cried out for His mercy. Light flooded his soul as he felt the incomprehensible joy that only comes from being healed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This joy is available to all who repent and come unto Him. Christ is the only source of hope that will never fail us. The eternal perspective that comes from reflecting on Him, His plan, and His atoning sacrifice will help us overcome any challenge or obstacle. I can testify to that because I have seen it over and over, especially over the last 15 months.

Speaking of, I'm at least 15 kinds of tired. But I'm super happy about it.

That is all for now! I love you all and hope you all have a fantastic week! You are all in my prayers, and I know God is watching out for you. Until next week!!

-Sister Fox

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