Monday, June 2, 2014

A Gospel of Change

FAMILY!

It's JUNE! Oi! WHY is it JUNE? "I know it's [June] . . . but what else is about it . . . ?"

I'm not happy about this.

But! I had a fantastic week so I guess that makes up for the fact that it's June and not May anymore. Time is taunting me and it needs to stop. Literally.

Why was this week fantastic y'all might ask? Because some fantastic things happened to some of my favorite fantastic people!!! What's funny is the fact that this week was actually incredibly slow. We had almost every single appointment, including dinner appointments, fall through. Yet it didn't feel slow to me. My love for my mission has increased so dramatically just in the past week that I am in love with the work even on the slow days. Missionary work just. Makes me happy. WHY is it June??

Ahem. Sorry. That should be the end of the June outbursts.

Do you know what June means? Summer heat!! The weather is trying to make me question my love for Tennessee. But it's NOT going to work!!! I still love it here. But it's. Really kinda hot. It got up to 95 degrees a few days ago, and paired with humidity, it's . . . hot. Whoever figured out how to install air conditioning in automobiles should be translated. Along with the person who made Girl Scout Thin Mints into ice cream.

So . . . where was I? This week! It was good. I already talked about P-day in my last email. #pancakesofglory. Today we're in Downtown Chattanooga again having a picnic at the park as a district. Fun times! Every day was really kind of slow this past week, so instead of going in chronological order this time, I'm just gonna talk about all my favorite people.

Kyla! Kyla is a less active that we have been working with for 6 months. She has been a difficult one to read, but we had a really good Restoration lesson with her this week and she opened up. I believe that she still has a testimony and a love for the Gospel, she's just scared to put her heart into it because her husband isn't a very religious person. I think she will be a really strong influence on him, though. He'll come around!

We saw Mickey and his family again this week! I think that was this week . . . Yeah! I don't know. I never remember things anymore. But yeah! The Dillards! They're totally still interested in learning the Gospel! Mickey and his son are really into Boy Scouts and their troop just ended. We told them that our church does Boy Scouts and they got really excited about it! Mickey's wife Jennifer just had back surgery, so that's why they haven't been able to investigate the church much. She really wants to learn more about it though, so we set up a return appointment for later this week! This family is pretty solid; I think they'll progress relatively quickly after Jennifer starts feeling better. Woohoo!! I love teaching families! Best! Feeling! Ever!

And then we saw Daniel, Olivia, and Melanie!! All our appointments kept cancelling with them, but this one held!! It was so good. We showed them the John Tanner Story after teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an emphasis on enduring to the end. Enduring to the end requires a great deal of sacrifice. We may not be asked to give up $250 million worth of property, but we are asked to sacrifice a great deal of time and talents to the growth and progress of the church. However, these sacrifices help us reap life's greatest joys and blessings. As we keep the commandments and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ our lives grow brighter, our families grow closer, and we have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost which will lead us down the paths that ultimately lead us to the Kingdom of our Father. Living the Gospel is a small price to pay for such a grand reward. And in the end, it's not a price to pay at all; it's another one of life's sweetest blessings.
We're hoping to get Daniel, Olivia, and Melanie back to church. The kids haven't been back since they were baptized in February. They want to go, but something stops them every Sunday. They need a lot of prayers and encouragement. They'll come back; I know they can do it!

But the highlight of the week was Saturday and Sunday. Hands down. Best weekend. EVER! Saturday was the day Justin was baptized and the service went smoothly. Brother Thomas gave a fantastic talk about baptism and eternal families. Amanda was beaming as she watched her husband go into the waters of baptism. I am so excited for their wonderful family!! They already set a date to attend the temple! June 2, 2015, they will be sealed in the temple together as a family. So before anyone plans any reunions or vacations, know that I will be in Tennessee the first week in June next year. No exceptions. :)

Sunday I attended the best sacrament meeting of my almost 22 years of life. This is where writing this email will get difficult because words cannot begin to scratch the surface of the pure and exquisite joy I felt throughout that entire meeting. I played the piano for the congregation, so I was privileged to sit on the stand while Justin received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of the Church. It was the sweetest confirmation blessing that I have ever heard. I don't want to go into much detail because it's personal for him and I probably shouldn't post it all over the internet, but I cried through it. He is already a valiant servant of Jesus Christ and he will play an important role in building the Kingdom.
After Justin's confirmation he got up to bear his testimony and I just about lost it. I have heard people in every testimony meeting testify of the truthfulness of the Church, but something pierced my heart when my recent convert got up in front of the congregation, shared how the Gospel had brought his family closer together, and testified of the truthfulness of the Church and of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. There were few dry eyes in the congregation. Something about his testimony was so powerful. I am so excited for him and his family. It is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life and into the eternities. Words can't even describe it! Missionary work is simply awesome.

I love Justin and Amanda's story. It all came from one member in the congregation opening her mouth. That simple! Sister Larose got up to bear her testimony and said that all she did was invite Amanda to church. Now Amanda and Justin have been baptized and they have set a date for the temple. Great things are brought to pass through small and simple things. You never know who is ready for the Gospel!!

And it gets better! James and Hayes came to church! AND they both bore their testimonies! They said that even though they don't attend church much, they still have great faith, and they thanked all of those who have been reaching out to them. My heart was practically bursting with joy. I got up to bear my testimony too and I broke down because I can't ever seem to bear my testimony without breaking down. I said the same things I usually say when I bear my testimony, but this time with a love and conviction that runs deeper than it ever has before. After the meeting Brother Adamz (our Ward Mission Leader) came up to me and said he was deeply touched by my testimony. He said he could tell that a drastic change has occurred in my life and that my testimony is not what it used to be. I was deeply touched by his comments. My testimony is nowhere near what it used to be. The Gospel has changed my life completely. Though I had a testimony when I left, I didn't understand the Gospel nearly as much as I do now. My mission has changed my life and has changed my character. I originally left because I knew God wanted me to. I left out of obligation. And now I don't want to leave. I serve God out of profound love for Him and His Gospel. I love this work. I love how the Gospel changes hearts. Though all my efforts are expended trying to change the hearts of others, my heart has been changed in the process.

This truly is a Gospel of change. It always changes lives for the better. It has the power to soften hearts. It heals broken hearts. It heals broken relationships. It binds families together for eternity. It refines our character and changes us into incredible people with incredible potential. All we have to do is choose to live it. Blessings immediately follow. We certainly are not exempt from trials and tribulations, but these things can soften us and refine us. The Gospel gives us the strength to overcome any hardship. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share what I know with others so they can make changes in their lives to bring their lives in closer harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. These changes leave them more happy and more complete. And I'm incredibly grateful that I have become more whole and complete in the process. I love my mission. I love my Savior. I am so grateful I am here; there is nowhere else I'd rather be. The Church is true!!

I love you all so much! Thank you for all your prayers, support, and letters. I am nothing without my dear family and friends. Y'alls support means everything to me!! I pray that each of you will have an incredible week full of miracles and tender mercies from our Lord. Until next week!!

-Sister Bri Fox

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