Greetings from Chattanooga, Tennessee!!!
*Sniff* And probably the last greetings that will come from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Yes, yes. It is time for Sister Fox to say goodbye to the beautiful town of Soddy Daisy, and the incredible ward family here in Hixson. I am so incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to serve here for so long. It has been one of my favorite wards, probably because I have been able to serve for so long and get to know the people so well. I have so many people here that I now consider family. I have seen so many people grow and change, and these 5 transfers I have spent here have been packed with miracles. In two days I will learn of my fate for the last 6 weeks of my mission. It seems a bit strange that I will be going to a new area for only 6 weeks, but I am more determined than ever to bless as many lives in that area as possible. My current companions have certainly showed me that a lot of positive changes can occur in six weeks with the arrival of new missionaries! It's gonna be good. :)
Last six weeks. Hasn't really started to sink in yet. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I am happy to report that each missionary in this trio has lived her dream in Chattanooga. It was Sister Johnson's dream to go to Aretha Frankenstein's, it was Sister Lee's dream to visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and it was my dream to visit the Aquarium.
And it rocked.
What's so exciting about looking at fish for 3 hours? Nothing really. But when you're a missionary, everything is exciting. Especially when it's free. So. It was still a dream come true.
Plus they have this butterfly pavilion where there are dozens of butterflies flying around, and they land on you and you can hold them on your finger and stuff! I held a butterfly. My life is complete. I also saw otters wrestle each other, almost got to hold baby penguins except they hadn't hatched yet, and I got to pet a shark and a sting ray! So. Pretty cool. Worth $26.50? Probably not. But it's okay because it was free.
Monday evening we had Family Home Evening with a family in the ward and some nonmember neighbors. It turned out really well! We got a new investigator out of it, whose name is Dominique. She came to church yesterday and seemed to enjoy most of it! She had a three-year-old who had a hard time paying attention, so it was a little tough to get through all three meetings. We're going back this evening to teach the Plan of Salvation for FHE, so it should be good!
Tuesday everything fell through and so we decided to go heart-attacking and we got caught in the pouring rain. Gotta love that Tennessee weather!
Wednesday I went on my final exchange as a Sister Training Leader. I have absolutely loved this calling, but now I can breathe a sigh of relief. I have been a Sister Training Leader for almost a year and I am really kinda tired. It'll be nice to be a regular missionary for the last six weeks of my mission. I have only been a regular missionary for one transfer, and this one will make it two! It's gonna be good. :) Guess what? I found out that I have been on 47 exchanges since the beginning of my mission. I've been so blessed. Exchanges are way tiring, but you get to learn from so many missionaries, and I have worked with some incredible sisters. It has been fantastic, but I am ready to pass the torch to the new Sister Training Leaders taking my place.
Anyway. This exchange was good! Sister Eckman from Dayton came to work with us in Hixson. Something we have been studying as a mission is how the Book of Mormon can answer questions of the soul. There is a section in Preach My Gospel that lists different questions of the soul to which we can find answers in the Book of Mormon, and President Irion has been encouraging all of us to come up with new questions and find the answers in the Book of Mormon. We have been doing that every exchange, and we have been seeing miracles happen! In just about every exchange at least one less active or investigator has asked us one of the questions that we had been studying. Coincidence? I think not!
Our lesson with Shirley was a really good example of that. Shirley lost two of her sons several years ago and has been wondering ever since where they were and what they were doing. She has some knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, but she still had tons of questions. In our morning studies Sister Lee had studied the answer to the question, "Where are my relatives who have passed away?" which she wrote herself. It was a powerful lesson and Shirley burst into tears as Sister Lee testified of the reality of the Spirit World and how our loved ones have the opportunity to hear the Gospel there.
I have had a blast writing questions of the soul and finding the answers in the Book of Mormon. The question I have been studying lately is, "How can I conquer the natural man/develop self-mastery?" There are answers all over the Book of Mormon! Doing studies this way has been a party and a half. Y'all should try it.
In fact, I am looking for more questions of the soul to study for and want some opinions. Could all y'all think of some questions you have had and send them to me? I want more questions. :) Then maybe we can both study them and answer them together. #studyparty!
Thursday we had our last District Meeting together as a district and then taught one of our new investigators, Anna. She came to church this past Sunday and it was a very pleasant surprise! She was there when we taught the Restoration to Mickey's family but we didn't think she was interested. Lo and behold, she showed up at church! On Thursday we taught her about the Book of Mormon and gave her a copy. Wanna hear something funny? Remember the "service tract" we did a few weeks ago? When we went around offering our service projects to random people? We weeded Anna's yard. Did we know it was Anna's yard at the time? Nope. Her dad had answered the door and we didn't recognize him until we came back and taught her at her house. The Lord works in mysterious ways!
Friday all our plans fell through because that happens to missionaries a lot to build character.
Saturday we had the conference call, where I learned that I was being transferred. And then we were sad. But I feel really good about it. 'Tis time to depart Soddy Daisy and embark on another six week adventure. So we went to say goodbye to lots of people. Like Angela. And Amanda and Justin. That one was really hard. I love that family so much. We went out to frozen yogurt and talked about what a miracle this journey has been in all of our lives. Amanda even bought me a picture frame and a candle! She is so sweet. I really *really* want to come back next Summer. It's happening. It was hard to say goodbye but I know I will see them again. They have all left an imprint on my heart that I will carry with me into the eternities. Developing these kinds of relationships and experiences these kinds of things is what makes missionary work so completely and perfectly fantastic. Have I mentioned that missionary work is the best thing ever? Cuz it is. If you don't believe me go serve one. You won't regret it. :)
Sunday was Fathers' Day. Happy belated Fathers' Day to all the incredible dads out there! I know I certainly wouldn't be where I am without mine. =D
And that brings us to today. Today was wonderful because we spent the whole morning cleaning but then we participated in a free yoga lesson because the instructor is a member of the Hixson ward. It was 60 minutes of heaven. And now I feel *fantastic*!
So . . . that's kinda it for this week! It wasn't actually that eventful, besides the news of the transfer and saying a plethora of goodbyes. Each day I reflect on the things I have learned as a missionary and I grow more and more overwhelmed with gratitude for this entire experience. I didn't realize until recently how many questions of my soul have been answered as I have lost myself in the service of God. Questions about where faith comes from and how it's developed, how I can strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ, how can I find the strength to conquer temptation, how can I increase my spiritual receptiveness, how can I become an effective instrument in God's hands, and so many more. I can only hope and pray that the learning and growth will continue after I take off the name tag.
A new question of the soul that I have been thinking about is, "What comes next?" I'm certain everyone asks that question at least once during their lifetime. When we have devoted so much time to serving a mission, or raising a family, or fulfilling another life calling, it is so hard to watch it come to an end. Yet, our life story keeps unfolding and new chapters lie before us. Bishop Isaacson recommended an incredible talk by President Monson entitled, "Patriarchal Blessings: a Liahona of Light." It talks about how our Patriarchal Blessing includes our mission in life, and how we should strive to fulfill it. It's the best source to turn to when we have the question, "What comes next?" We will always have missions to accomplish throughout our lives, and our lives will always have purpose and meaning. Turning to the scriptures and our Patriarchal blessings can help us discover what our purpose is and what God would have us do. As Joseph Smith states in Lectures on Faith #6, faith comes from the knowledge that what we are doing is acceptable to the Lord. And I know for certain that happiness comes from knowing we are on the Lord's errand. :)
Well that's it for this week friends and family! Thank you so much for the letters, emails, prayers, and support. It means so much and makes a difference each and every day! I love you all so much and pray for you daily. I hope you have the best of weeks and I'll write again next week!