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

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