Thursday, May 29, 2014

Power of Example

Hey Y'all!!

Happy Memorial Day yesterday!! It was a day to be remembered. Everything was closed, but we ended up going with the Bushes to downtown Chattanooga to a hole in the wall restaurant called Aretha Frankenstein's. It was. SO. Delicious. It's a breakfast place of joy! I ordered two pancakes. And I could only finish one. Know why?? Because they're probably the size of your average basketball. Okay so they're not that big. But one pancake is probably the equivalent of four or five regular-sized pancakes. It was glorious. Have I mentioned how much I love downtown Chattanooga? Probably not, because I have this knack of saying how terrifying it is. It really is a fantastic place!

This week was another good one!! There's a lot to tell! We'll go in chronological order again.

Monday we had to have the oil changed in the car, so we spent the p-day carless. We ended up shopping and stuff. It wasn't actually that exciting but that's okay because now I have a really cute new blouse from Ross.
Monday evening we had a lesson with the Smith's about faith, repentance, and how to transform righteous desires into action. It was really good! We discussed how we can conquer the natural man one decision at a time, and righteous desires grow with each righteous action we take. That theme has come up a lot lately. I would suggest the blog post entitled, "Drops of Awesome" to anyone who is struggling with transforming righteous desires into action. I don't remember the name of the woman who wrote it, but it's perfectly fantastic.

Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with Amanda, Justin, and the Laroses. I love these families! Justin is still planning on baptism this upcoming Saturday, and on Monday we taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a powerful lesson, especially when we started talking about the role the temple plays in enduring to the end. Brother Larose started getting emotional as he talked about the joy that comes from being sealed to your family in the temple, which made Amanda and Justin even more excited to obtain those blessings for themselves. Amanda has set an incredible example for her family. Justin has seen how it has changed her life, and now he wants those blessings for himself. She is also teaching her adorable 4-year old daughter, who absolutely loves going to church and attending primary. It's amazing to see how the power of one person's example can change an entire family. Teaching them has been one of the highlights of my entire mission! I just love this gospel, and I love teaching it to families!

I have a few funny quotes that came from that lesson as well:

Mattie: (age 4) I want to be baptized and live in the Sun Kingdom!!!
Blake (age 5): I'm going to be baptized when I'm 8!!
Mattie: WHAT?? *Faceplant*

Mattie: I want to be baptized when I'm 8 too!!! But I don't want daddy to do it. I want Blake to do it.
Blake: I don't know how to baptize!!!
Missionaries: You'll have to wait until he's 16!
Mattie: . . . Fine! I'll be baptized when I'm 16 then!

I love kids. :)

Wednesday we went on exchanges again!! Guess where I went?? Yeup!! Downtown Chattanooga!! I just can't stay away. :) I really do love that area; it has a whole different feel to it, and we met some incredible people. Though now I am 100% positive that I won't be going back. Which is kind of sad to me because I really love that area. I had some great experiences there this time. No getting stuck in ghettos without a bus or anything like that. There's one story I wanted to share in particular that goes along with the "power of example" theme.

Sister Husted, my companion for the day, had already planned out the day, but when we got up Wednesday morning she felt that something wasn't quite right. She had a random name of a former investigator pop into her head and she decided we should go see her instead of what we had originally intended to do. So we took the bus to her area and the gps took us a very roundabout way to get to her house. On the way we ended up knocking a few doors and met some fairly promising investigators! One even invited himself to church; that doesn't happen often! It was awesome. :) We ended up at Rosie's house about 30 minutes after we had intended, but it ended up being perfect timing. Why? About 20 minutes before we showed up she had kicked her kids out of the house after a particularly nasty shouting match. We went in and taught her about the Restoration, the power of repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins. She began to cry and said that she wanted a new life for herself and for her kids. She agreed to be baptized June 14th! Just after she agreed to baptism her 12 year old son timidly walked through the door and sat down beside her and began to cry. She held him tight, apologized profusely, asked for forgiveness, and said that the Sisters were here to help her become a better person. It was one of the most powerful moments I have witnessed on my mission. I love how this Gospel softens hearts. I love how it brings families together and heals relationships. I love the example this young mother set for her son in being the first to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I love the effect the Gospel of Jesus Christ has on individuals and families!

I met several other families and investigators in Downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday, and it was really fun. They are fun people with fun personalities! I want to come back and tour the area one day. There's so much stuff to do! What can be better than giant pancakes, huge bridges spanning the river, and funny-shaped aquariums? Look it up online. It's a pretty cool city.

Thursday was Zone Conference. And it was my last. :( Sad. Luckily I'll have a few more Zone Meetings, but I'm a Zone Conference fan. Sister Lee and I got to perform at this one! Y'all will be proud of me, because I don't sing in front of peers, and we sang a "This is the Christ" duet for everyone! It was less intimidating because I was playing the piano too so I got to hide. But it was really fun and it turned out well! It was a tender mercy that I didn't crack either; my allergies were taking their toll on my throat. We got a lot of positive feedback! Yay!

That evening everything fell through so I don't remember what we did instead. It must have been so fantastic that my brain just couldn't handle it or something.

Everything fell through Friday too. And I don't remember that day either. So. Same basic principle.

Saturday we met with Amanda and Justin again and taught most of the commandments from lesson 4 and it was awesome. Then we went on a "service tract" where we put on our p-day clothes and knocked random doors in a random neighborhood asking for service projects. We ended up weeding several front yards and clearing weeds/grass off the path from someone's front door to their driveway. It was pretty fun! A lot of people were touched by the service we gave. We didn't get any return appointments but we did make a lot of people happy!

We also wanted to do the service tract to get into the door of one of our investigators. While I was on exchanges, my companions met with a man named Kyle who is really interested in the message. His wife doesn't like missionaries, so we wanted to serve her, but Kyle wasn't home when we got there and she didn't answer the door. Sad day. We're going to try to go back this week, and we need all the prayers we can get! We know this Gospel can really bless their family, so we're hoping that we can get Kyle's wife to listen in on the discussions. Miracles can happen!

We also saw the Beards and got two new investigators! We met with a new investigator right after whose name is Andrew, and I guess my companions met him on exchanges as well. We taught him the Restoration and he agreed to be baptized in June! Woohoo!! He was really excited about the message and said he wanted to share it with his friends. He is so solid! We're excited for him! We're supposed to meet him in two hours. Except we don't have a team-up. But that's okay because we can meet with him outside at the Beards like we usually do. Except now it's . . . raining. We'll see what happens. To be continued.

Saturday evening we met with the Smiths again and showed them a video about the John Tanner story. Y'all can find it on lds.org or mormonchannel.org or something. If you haven't seen it, look it up! It's really good. It's all about giving everything we have to God in order to build His kingdom.

Sunday we met with Tori again and had a great lesson on Alma 36, then we met with the Beards again. And did some other stuff that was probably so fantastic that I simply cannot remember it. That seems to be a frequent occurrence.

The thought I wanted to leave this week came to me at last week's MLC. We had a remarkable training on the qualities of good leadership. Bishop Vaughn gave us advice on how to be a good leader. He talked a lot about leading by example. When people make mistakes, they usually know it. When we mess up, we feel the feelings of guilt and shame that come from falling short. The people around us already know when they're falling short. They usually don't need someone to point it out to them, and they certainly don't need our judgment. What they need is someone to love them into making better choices. They need their hearts to be turned quickly to the Lord. Richard G. Scott said in this past General Conference that as we love others with pure Christlike love, they learn to trust the Lord. We need to love others enough to share our personal conviction and our personal experiences with the Gospel, and then let them work out the details on their own. It is remarkable how one example can change lives. As we let charity rule every action and every thought, people will change. I know it because it worked on me. Sister Schwab showed me an incredible example of pure, Christlike love. She never pointed out my flaws, though I felt they were being magnified day by day. She loved me into being better. Because of her example I wanted to be a more positive, hopeful, charitable person. Incredible changes can be wrought through the power of one individual's example.

Well friends and family, that is all for now; we're short on time today. I am glad everyone is doing well! School is out and summer is here! That's unbelievably crazy. I hope everyone has a fantastic summer full of fun and adventure! I'll be over here in Tennessee enjoying my own kind of fun and adventure! God bless you all.

Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week of Miracles!

Hey Y'all!!

I'm pretty excited to write this email! This week was really good. Even though my allergies left my perfectly drained all week. 'Tis the season to be sneezin'. Which is funny, I've never had problems with allergies before back in Utah. Tennessee is the allergy capital of the country, however, so. Allergies. I love it here but I could never live here during the Spring.

Monday we spent the day with the Chattanooga zone down at Coolidge Park. It was tons of fun! We played ultimate frisbee, then I sat in the shade and wrote letters while everyone else played softball. I don't really like softball. One of the elders threw water on everyone who refused to play. So I got wet. But! I still enjoyed writing that letter on wet paper.
When P-day was over we had FHE with Amanda, her family, and the Larose family. It was so fun! We taught the Plan of Salvation to the kids and then enjoyed cookies afterward. It has been a while since I've been able to have a Family Home Evening, so it was really enjoyable! Their kids are just adorable. Pictures to come!

Tuesday we had MLC! I love MLC! I thought that my previous MLC was my last one so it was way fun going to this one. It was fantastic as always! We received incredible trainings on leadership and then counseled together about how we can improve our finding efforts as a mission, as well as our ability to work effectively with members. I got called to repentance a couple times, but that is what meetings like this are for. I really enjoyed it! Then, of course, we enjoyed a fantastic meal at the mission home. Cafe Rio style. My life became complete. I got to see so many of my favorite people! Like Sister Schwab! She and I did a lot of catching up, which was way fun. I just love her! A lot!

Wednesday was when my allergies started kicking in and the day itself was a little on the slow side. But I'm sure we did productive things. I just can't remember at the moment. One thing about being a missionary, it is shocking how quickly you forget things that happen. For example, I don't really remember what we did yesterday. Without my planner I wouldn't remember a single thing. Too much information swimming around inside your head just shuts your mind off, I guess. Hence my favorite saying, "The wheel is still spinning but the hamster's gone." I still use that fairly often.

Thursday was our day of miracles!!! One right after the other, it was fantastic! First, we were able to see a family that I have been trying to see since I got here in November. They are a part-member family, and we finally had the opportunity to sit down with two of them and visit. We got to visit with Sydney, who is 14. She's not a member, but her parents and grandparents are. We sat with her and her grandmother and taught the restoration. She accepted a Book of Mormon and said she would read and pray about it, but we're not sure how far that will go, because her mom has some anti-Mormon sentiments. It was a miracle we had the opportunity to teach her though! We're praying that hearts will soften and that we'll be able to visit with the whole family!

After that we finally saw Mickey again! He was the one who filled out the survey a few months ago saying that he wants to meet with missionaries. His wife just had surgery so it will be a few weeks before they can come to church, but he said that they are still interested and he accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon! Woohoo!! We have been knocking on that door once a week since Sister Day and I had our first lesson with them (which was perfectly awesome, by the way) a couple months ago. So! Progress!!

Then we saw Amanda and her husband. We taught the Restoration for her new member lesson, and we also directed it at Justin because he hasn't sat in on many lessons in the past. It went so well!! We committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and then he said that if he got his answer he would be baptized on May 31st!!! Woohoo!!! I love this family! Amanda was really excited. She loves the doctrine of families and that they can be together forever, and she wants more than anything to be sealed to Justin in the temple. One step closer! I love working with families. It's the best thing ever. :)

After that lesson we actually got to see Daniel, Olivia, and their mom!! I have been pounding on that door since their baptism and it has been nigh impossible to get in. Which has been a bit heart-wrenching, to be honest. But! I'm not giving up on this family because I love them way too much to see them go inactive. Melanie (their mom) let us in and she was so happy to see us! I don't really know what has been getting in the way, honestly. Just life, I guess. And lack of support from other family members. But we taught them about enduring to the end and committed them to a missionary discussion once a week, so hopefully things will turn around!

THEN! As we were driving home we got a call from a random potential investigator asking us why we didn't show up on Monday. We told him we didn't even have an appointment with him on Monday, but we set one up for this week! For those who haven't served a mission: potential investigators rarely call. Like . . . Ever. This is probably the second time I've received a call from a potential investigator. So! We're excited! Sister Johnson and Sister Lee will see him on exchanges, so we'll see how it goes!! WoohoO!!!

So POOF! There ya have it. Thursday rocked.

Friday wasn't as cool but that's okay because every day can be cool if you make it cool. Even if you take 6 hours weekly planning. Do you know how you can make a day like that cool? By going to Sweet Pea and getting the best frozen yogurt you have ever tasted. Ever. It tasted like Jolly Rancher deliciousness. Be jealous. It's so delicious my present self is jealous of my past self just thinking about it.

Saturday we were on exchanges with Signal Mountain, so Sister Lee switched places with Sister Crapo. It was fun! This was my third time hosting an exchange with Sister Crapo in Soddy Daisy, and I always love those exchanges because she served here before with Sister Schwab. So! She already knew everything that was going on! Except with our new investigators, of course. It's amazing how quickly your investigator pool will change. We had a full day! First we saw Gatona's husband, who is aspiring to be a politician. Apparently he's really famous, but I had never heard of him before. I'm told he's a Youtube sensation and has been on Glen Beck and Comedy Central. So! I taught the Restoration to a famous guy! He didn't like it though. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and I was more bold and direct than ever before, but he wasn't ready to accept the doctrine yet. He was afraid he would be letting God down by reading the Book of Mormon and we couldn't successfully talk him out of it. Maybe some day he will!!

After that lesson we taught Erica, who is another newer investigator of ours. We tried to teach the Plan of Salvation but she had kids and dogs running around and the lesson wasn't very focused. We extended the invitation for her to be baptized and she said she would pray about it. Hopefully that'll go somewhere!

Then we had Stake Conference! This one was really *really* good, especially the Saturday night session. One quick funny story, Sister Crapo, Sister Johnson and I were standing in the foyer right before we switched back with Signal Mountain and we were talking to a fairly new member of the church. He was staring at all of us and said, "I can't handle it!! It's too hard!" We gave him a funny look and he said, "I just want to hug you all SO BADLY! It's like Superman and KRYPTONITE!" All three of us simultaneously took a huge step backward. Oh the awkward joys of being a sister missionary.

Stake Conference was really good! We had Elder Arnold (Of the Seventy) give us really good counsel on being solid member missionaries. He made sharing the Gospel sound so easy. Cuz . . .it is! There are so many ways to share the Gospel. Like inviting nonmember friends to a family home evening, or handing out pass-along cards, or getting into Gospel-related conversations with people. You can relate ANY TOPIC back to the Restoration. Missionaries get particularly good at it. Sometimes it's a stretch. But! Your job really is the easy part. All you have to do is invite! The rest is up to them. I loved that meeting; it inspired me to be an active member-missionary upon returning home.

Sunday we had an extra session of Stake Conference for the new members and investigators and then we had the general session. Amanda gave the opening prayer at the general session and did and awesome job! I felt like a proud mother. Except. I don't actually know what proud mothers feel like. Once again Elder Arnold gave excellent remarks on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and it was a very uplifting meeting. I really enjoyed it!
Sunday night we had dinner at the Bushes and we laughed when they told us Sister Crapo used to say in her prayers, "We're so grateful to be eating among the Bushes." Oh the joys of having a common noun for a last name.

Well! Time is running short but I need to include a spiritual thought! The thought for this week comes from Elder Arnold's remarks from Stake Conference about the power of one individual's influence. Never underestimate the impact you can have on others as a faithful friend. You will always be placed in a position to impact lives; never miss an opportunity to strengthen, comfort, and serve those around you. So many people are waiting for your testimony! Whether or not you wear a nametag, you are a representative of Jesus Christ by being part of His church. We covenanted at baptism to take upon ourselves His name. We have a duty to reach out and bless the lives of those around us, even in the smallest of ways. So go out and serve someone this week!

That's all I've got! Silly time, it runs out too fast. This week truly was a week of miracles, and I'm sure more will follow! Missionary work is full of ups and downs, but all of it is completely worth it. It's the best thing ever and I love every minute. I love my companions, I love my area, I love my ward, I love being a missionary!!!
And I love you all! Y'all are in my prayers and I hope y'all have a week full of miracles as well!!

Much love,

-Sister Fox

Monday, May 12, 2014

Maximizing Returns

ALOHA!

This week has been good, and I am in a particularly good mood right now, probably because I got to Skype several of my favorite people yesterday!! It was so good to see all y'all!! Still can't believe that was my last phone call. Time flies! But anyway, I'll keep all the details in this email for those who missed out on the call yesterday.

Last Monday was rather enjoyable. We began the day by going to downtown Chattanooga for gourmet doughnuts. Be jealous. I had an apple pie one that almost killed me. But it was worth it! Then we went home and cleaned and packed so that's not terribly exciting. I probably got to sit down for a total of 20 minutes last p-day. But it's okay. 'Cuz guess what? We spent about 70 hours in the car last transfer. 70.

Guess what that adds up to? Approximately 36 days in the car. Over a month. 1/18 of my mission spent in the car. I'm gonna quit with the number torture now. I'm actually really grateful I don't have to ride bikes in a skirt.

Monday evening we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant with the Lindleys which probably wasn't a good idea because it was Cinco de Mayo and they were blasting country music to the point where I couldn't even hear myself shout across the table. At least the food was good! Then we tried to teach Bro. Morton's cousin again. It went about as well this time as it did last time. He did let me use his fancy recording equipment though! I got to record a couple piano songs. Not like I can do much with them but it was still fun. Then we tried to teach the Restoration but it kind of went all over the place. But hey, perhaps he'll be ready one day!

Tuesday we basically spent the day saying goodbye to everybody. It was hard on Sister Day to leave so soon. Like I said in my last email, this transfer kind of threw everyone for a loop. I guess we'll wait and see what God has in store for all of us. I'm really looking forward to it; it'll be a good transfer!

Wednesday was transfer day, and this time I didn't have someone in the office sneaking us information so I had no idea who my new companions were going to be. I was actually pretty sure one of them would be Sister Johnson, so I was really excited when I found out I was right!! MTC companions together again!! I feel so spoiled. :) I've had the best streak of companions. I've become best friends with practically all of them and I was already best friends with one of them before my mission. Woohoo!! God is good. :) My other companion is Sister Lee! I am very grateful for Sister Lee; she is incredibly driven, persistent, and hard-working. She gets things done, and she does it right. She'll help me keep pushing during this final stretch, and I'm really grateful for that! She's wonderful. Pictures to come! Eventually . . . I forgot my card reader today. Whoops.

So after the transfer meeting we had dinner with the Barrotts and then went to see Amy and Ethan. This time Shawn sat in on the lesson and it was awesome! Amy and Ethan were going to come to church yesterday but they had car trouble. :( Next week!! This family is doing great. :)

Thursday we had our first district meeting as a brand new district and then Amanda had her baptismal interview, which she passed with flying colors!! Easiest investigator ever. She is so prepared. I just love her and her family so much! Her baptism was awesome. Details coming soon. Give me a couple more paragraphs.
We saw Angela on Thursday too! We were able to teach her while her boyfriend Jesse sat in, and he agreed to take the discussions! Woohoo!! We're so excited to teach both of them! They're fantastic people and I love them a lot.

Then we saw Sherman! He is still trying to get settled but he wants to come back to church. He wasn't able to make it yesterday, but we're hoping to see him there next week! We also got to talk to his friend Phil, who agreed to a church tour this coming Wednesday. We're looking forward to that! That'll be awesome. :) Then Sister Phillips took us out to a Japanese grill where they cook the food right in front of you, which was delicious, then we saw the Yearwoods, which was also delicious, because it has been forever since I've seen those kids and I love them with all of my soul. Circumstances are still making it difficult for them to attend church, so we're just praying our hearts out trying to find a way for them to start coming again. I know miracles can happen!!

Friday was weekly planning! And it took about 6 hours to do it! Gotta love weekly planning with new companions at the beginning of a new transfer. After planning out all our exchanges and talking about every person in the area, we finally got out to work. We saw Amanda to do a final prep for her baptism, then we saw the Beards.

Oh heavens.

So when we have lessons with the Beards, we usually just sit out on a swing in their front lawn when we don't have members to come with us. Usually the neighborhood is really quiet and it's easy to feel the Spirit. I don't know what was up with that lesson. One of their friends came over and he must be some future general authority or something because the adversary was trying everything he could to distract him from the lesson. We were trying to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we couldn't get anywhere. First of all, there was a random group of neighborhood kids throwing football, and they kept missing it and throwing it on top of the truck that we just happened to be sitting next to. It even hit Brother Beard twice. Then another random neighborhood kid brings out his pet python and asked us all if we wanted to pet it. Then this random woman comes up with her pet pit bull because she wanted it to play with Beards' puppy, which happened to be playing in the grass right where we were trying to have our lesson. She finally left after about 5 or 10 minutes, but then she came back with pit bull number two. Then she left and came back with pit bull number three! And the entire time I'm thinking, "Is it really necessary to have all three of your pit bulls play with this random puppy while we're trying to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ over here?"

I love the South.

Next time we're bringing members so we can go inside.

Then we saw Janet and recommitted her and her family to take the discussions. And that was the end of Friday I believe.

Saturday we were on Conference Calls for two hours, then we sang at the Health Care Center, visited Shirley and Phil, then went to Amanda's baptism. It was such a good service! We had an amazing turnout; she invited a ton of her family members and they were all there! Once again, the familiar feeling of inexpressible joy filled the room as she was baptized. While she was getting dressed, my companions and I gave a quick presentation on the Restoration of the Gospel, and the Spirit was so thick after Sister Lee gave the account of the first vision that you could cut it with a knife. We got a lot of comments on it afterward. The feeling, as always, was beyond words. I love baptisms! I love being a missionary! And I love Amanda!!!!

After the baptism we saw Charla and had a really good discussion with her about keeping covenants, then visited a part-member family and got three new investigators! Woohoo!! This area is picking up and the Church is true!!

Yesterday was Amanda's confirmation in church and she received one of the most beautiful blessings I have ever heard. And then she had the opportunity to bear her testimony to the congregation. The satisfaction that comes from hearing your recent convert bear his/her testimony for the first time is beyond what words can describe. It. Was awesome. She talked about how she first came in contact with the Church, how it felt like home, and how it filled an emptiness that she didn't know was there. Now she feels whole and complete, and she feels like a completely different person. She is perfectly amazing! We're going back tonight to teach her about Family Home Evening. It's going to be great!

And that was my week! It was so good! I feel so much more energetic and happy, and I am more than ready to sprint to the finish. I have no idea what lies in store for the next 11 weeks of my mission, but I'm going to make the most of each and every day.

The spiritual thought this week comes from Jacob 5, actually. Before my mission I had read that chapter over and over and just didn't get it. As I've read it on my mission, I have gained a whole new appreciation for it, and it is now one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. It shows just how much God loves us and has a plan for each and every one of us. As I was reflecting on it this past week, one phrase kept sticking out in my head: God knows how to maximize His returns. It's so easy to get discouraged as a missionary. You look around and you see so much suffering. You see all these people who have been planted in "poor spots of ground." Sometimes it seems as if their upbringing hinders their ability to make correct choices. Sometimes I've wondered why I was born into the Gospel and others have gone without it their entire lives. My thoughts always come back to Jacob 5. The Lord of the vineyard knows what He is doing. Sometimes He will plant His children in a less desirable spot of ground, but He knows how to nourish them and help them grow. He reaches out to every individual in personal ways, and He wants all of His children to return to Him. He knows how to help people change and bring forth good fruit. No matter our status, or our circumstances, each of us has the potential to live with God again. He does everything He can to help us along the path. The most touching verses to me are the ones that mention how the Lord of the Vineyard weeps and asks, "What more could I have done for my vineyard?" when the trees become corrupt. He is working and reaching out His hand all the day long. We just have to trust in His plan for us and for the ones we love. He is always working on His children. He knows how to maximize His returns. :)

Well, that's it for this week! I love you all, and thank you all so much for everything you do for me! Your support and prayers do not go unnoticed. You are all in my prayers! Love y'all!!

-Sister Fox

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Whoa . . . Curve Ball

Hey Y'all!!

Guess what?? This week we went tracting in a tornado, got attacked by a 2 pit bulls and a german shepherd, and took on a shark!

Except we actually went inside before the tornado hit. And the three dogs were actually nice; they just pounced on us because they were excited to see us. And the shark was actually a stroller that Sister Day and I somehow couldn't manage to get in the trunk of a car. But I like to pretend we're hard core.

So Monday, I'm guessing everyone heard that the South was hit with tornadoes. That was an adventure. We had been receiving warnings all evening but the sky was still clear and we wanted to be productive, so we decided to knock doors. Sister Day's prayer was particularly hilarious: "We're so grateful for this opportunity . . . to tract . . . in a tornado . . ."

Everyone got mad at us for being outside. Except it wasn't even windy or rainy yet. Silly people.

Right when we got inside it started raining. Then a huge thunderstorm hit and we were grateful to be inside. Then we got a call from our District Leader telling us that President Irion wanted everyone to take tornado safety precautions by sleeping in the bathtub.

The bathtub.

Well, the bathtub is in the upstairs bathroom, and being on the top floor in the middle of a tornado is, I'm guessing, rather unwise. Plus, I'm not sleeping in the bathtub. We have a half bath downstairs but there is no way under heaven Sister Day and I are going to cram ourselves in that tiny little room. So I call the Ward Mission Leader for advice and he tells us to sleep under the kitchen table. So we drag our mattresses downstairs and into the kitchen. And sleep under the kitchen table. Another funny prayer ensued: "We're grateful for this opportunity . . . to sleep . . . in the kitchen. . ."

We actually slept pretty well. I hear rumors the tornado touched down about 10 minutes from where we were, but there was very little damage done to Hixson or Soddy Daisy. We asked the other missionaries about their adventures sleeping in the bathroom and it turns out that everyone else in the district had slept in their bathtubs or on the bathroom floor. Sounds painful. I'll take the kitchen table. Everyone is safe, though!

Kind of ironic that all these tornadoes hit after General Conference, where tornadoes seemed to be a popular topic.

This week was crazy because we did a double exchange! Sister Day and I were so tired that we forgot to call one pair of sisters and tell them when we wanted to exchange with them, so we had to reschedule it. So we did two in a row! Those are always fun. You never really get to see your companion. Tuesday I hosted an exchange with the sisters in Athens. Sister Huber is awesome; she was in the MTC with me and was a Sister Training Leader for 7 transfers. Poor thing is tired too. She was able to empathize a lot. We speculated about upcoming transfers, and how President would probably release me as an STL (I've been one for 6 transfers) and let me retire in peace somewhere else in the mission. Makes sense.

That exchange was a really good one! We were able to find new people for our teaching pool, and we got to see Amanda! Amanda is doing really, really well. She was going through a hard time and requested a blessing, and she saw a miracle this week! Her prayers were answered, which increased Justin's faith as well. He is completely supportive and is loving church too! Amanda is more than ready to be baptized this Saturday, and yesterday I hear that Justin mentioned in Priesthood that he was most likely going to follow suit!! Woohoo!! I love this family! I was slightly sad all week though; I've been in Soddy Daisy for 6 months and I was pretty sure I would get transferred before the baptism. What matters is that they get baptized, though! They're solid. They remind me during the harder days that missionary work is perfectly awesome.

On exchanges we also were able to see Shirley, who is one of my favorite people. We like to talk about Book of Mormon stories every time we see her to help her increase her faith in the Book of Mormon. This week we talked about Enos and had a really good discussion on the role of faith in our prayers. We also got to see Tori! She came out of nowhere; she has been on the back-burner for a while due to all sorts of craziness going on in her life. She said she needed some guidance and wanted us to come and talk to her. We were able to comfort her and give her some direction, and then we re-committed her to take the lessons. Her life is crazy but I hope we can get back in her house! She needs this Gospel! Everyone does!
Then we saw Charla, who really clicked with Sister Huber. Another thing I love about exchanges is learning from the teaching styles of other sisters, and seeing how their personalities help the work progress in my own area. We told the story of King Lamoni's father and how he was willing to give up everything, including all of his sins, to follow Jesus Christ and inherit eternal life. It went along really well with my thoughts last week about what we are willing to sacrifice for this Gospel.

Which reminds me, putting the phrase "I got shot" in last week's title probably wasn't the brightest of my ideas. Sorry about that. . .

After we exchanged back, Sister Day and I went to see the Yearwoods. Only Daniel was home, and he had a friend with him, so we talked to them both outside. We talked to his friend Austin about the Book of Mormon and the role of the Gospel in our lives, and he was actually pretty interested! Sister Day went back the next day on our exchanges with Dayton and he committed to be baptized! Woohoo!! We don't have a date yet for him. It's going to be hard to help him get to church; the circumstances are looking difficult. Prayers are greatly appreciated!!

Quick note before I talk about our exchange with Dayton. I learned a ton from Sister Huber. She is a solid missionary. One thing we talked a lot about during the exchange was the natural man. She had been reading a talk about how the purpose of missionary work is to help us conquer the natural man. Which made tons of sense to me. The natural man wants to sleep, doesn't want to exercise, doesn't want to work, doesn't want to suffer, etc. Missions teach us how to conquer the bad habits of the natural man and rely on God to help us grow and change. I talked to Sister Huber about how we can change our desires from yielding to the natural man to developing Christlike attributes and she gave some interesting insights. She said change really boils down to the single decisions that we make. One decision at a time, day by day. Like the "Drops of Awesome" blog mentions, every decision that we make means something. If I wake up in the morning and choose to exercise, I am, in that moment, someone who takes care of herself. If I choose to be patient when someone is irritating me, I am, in that moment, a patient person. And as we make one decision at a time, step by step, our desires change and we grow in character. It boils down to how we use our agency. What will we choose? God's way, or the way of the Adversary? Each decision is up to us.

Also. She said, "There is a spiritual gift for every human frailty." Loved that. Food for thought.

Anyway. Dayton! I love the Dayton sisters; they are the sisters in our district. Well, I love all the sisters, but especially the Dayton sisters. I went to Dayton with Sister Goates, so once again, we became the "party animal" companionship. When we went tracting we couldn't say both our names in fear of laughing, so I would introduce myself as Sister Fox and point to Sister Goates and say she was my companion. Fox and Goates. Maybe one day well serve together.
I love Dayton! We had a good day. We saw a lot of people that I had seen on our last exchange, and it was cool to see how much they had grown. We also got to see a baptism interview for two of their investigators who were baptized last Saturday. The work is growing up in that branch! It was a good day. :)

Friday was really productive! We exchanged back, then Sister Day and I went to see a cousin of one of the members of our congregation. He is a very interesting person. He is into music, so Bro. Morton (the member) was hoping that we would be able to relate, and then teach him the gospel. Well . . . we tried. I did get to record a couple songs using his fancy equipment, so that was cool! Teaching the Gospel proved to be difficult. He just kept talking about why he disagreed with Mormons but didn't give us a chance to talk. That happens sometimes. But we just patiently listened. We did have a conversation that hit my funny bone though. He started talking about that the only thing keeping him from being a Mormon is the Book of Mormon. He hasn't read it, but he doesn't see how it could be a true book. Later during the conversation he said something along the lines of,

Cousin: I do want to read this other book though. It's an obscure book, but I hear it came out of the Bible and there may be a lot of interesting things in there to learn! Why not learn more about Jesus Christ?
Me: I would say that the best way to know of the divinity of any book of scripture is to read and pray about it, you know?
Cousin: Exactly!!!!

Bro. Morton and Sister Day burst out laughing. He didn't understand why.

He was a nice man, though. :)

After that we saw Amanda again and taught her the commandments. We've been falling a little behind in teaching the lessons on time, so we crammed every single commandment into one lesson, which is something I have never done before on my mission. Once again, she just soaked it all up and got excited about it. Because she's that cool. :)

She also fed us on Saturday! She's so sweet. She's already signing up for feeding the missionaries and integrating herself into the ward quite nicely. She's friends with a lot of the Relief Society sisters already and Justin is making a lot of friends as well. This is so fun! I love missionary work!!

Saturday we also saw Sherman! He's alive! We found him! We were wandering around a trailer park and he came out of nowhere!! Divine intervention, I tell you. He wants to go back to church, but he'll be moving to Dayton. At least we found him, though! He'll be baptized in no time. :) Hopefully.

And we saw the Smiths! The lesson with the Smiths was hilarious. We taught them the account of the Brother of Jared, and then to make scripture reading fun, we taught them the pray-flop technique. Basically, you say a prayer and tell Heavenly Father about all your concerns. Then you "flop" your scriptures open and search for answers. We talked about how if you pray without listening or without reading your scriptures it's like asking someone a question and then booking it out the door without receiving an answer. You need to let God talk to you too. That clicked really well with all of them. One of their daughters, in the closing prayer, said,

"If you don't give us a direct answer, please help us remember to . . . flop."

I tried really, *really* hard to not burst out laughing in the middle of the prayer.

And, that's a wrap! This week was really really good. It was a great close to the transfer. Sister Day and I have been through a lot this transfer, but we have grown so much from it. Now we have two left and are more ready than ever to hit the ground running for this final stretch. There will be miracles these next 12 weeks! I know it!

And the reason I know is because we got a HUGE curve ball thrown at us when we received transfer calls on Saturday. Sister Day is actually getting transferred somewhere else and I am staying 6 more weeks in Soddy Daisy.

Didn't see that coming, did ya? Neither did I.

I've been here for 6 months, which is the maximum time President will typically leave a missionary in any given area, and Sister Day has only been here for three. Everyone in the district was shocked. And the ward. It just goes to show that God's ways are higher than man's ways, and Sister Day is needed in another choice corner of the vineyard, and my work here is not yet finished. So. We'll see how these next six weeks go here in Soddy Daisy! Adventures and miracles are around the corner, I know it!

I love you all!! I hope you all have an excellent week and that miracles accompany you wherever you may be!!

-Sister Fox