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!