It's amazing how much I am learning, and how much more I need to learn. Some moments I am on cloud nine, just zooming, with the Spirit running through me, helping me get pumped on the truthfulness of the gospel. Oh my, it is true! And I love Tennessee, and want so badly in my heart to be a Southern woman, wearing my Goodwill attire, with my name tag shining.
Mary Ruth is coming along. She is down to half of her normal amount of cigarettes. Man, I love her. Why is it so HARD to quit addictions! She's about 75 and got a real bad fever of 103 a few days ago. She prayed to God saying, "You can't let me die before I get baptized!" Soon enough, we got some priesthood holders to bless her and the next day she was healed! She knows it's true! Thanks for the fasting and praying for her. I know she feels it. I tell her about the family all the time, and that one day I will bring you guys back to meet her. Cinnamon mouthwash is supposed to help people stop smoking because the two tastes are so bad together. I pretty much cleared Walmart out of that stuff. Don't worry, nobody will be smoking in Tennessee by the time I am done with this place.
Here is a photo of the Mary Ruth's flying pig that I have hanging in my apartment:
One of my all time favorite missionary moments happened this week while I was driving down Tate Lane for the first time with my Southern Grandma Sheila. Tate Lane is a road that everybody warned us against driving on. The road is so small that two cars can't drive alongside each other. The road curves so fast and sharp, you can't see who is coming at you. The trees surrounding the roads are so tall and majestic you forget you are in suburbia. And oh boy, when we drove it, my life changed. I was laughing so hard, feeling free and forgetting all about the stress of the day. Plus, I was with my favorite member, who backed into a fence last time we drove together.
Sometimes, everyone needs a little bit of Tate Lane to survive the stresses in life. It helped me to see that mission life can be really fun. I get so excited for district meetings now, and firesides. It's like spiritual nourishment to inspire me and get me through the week.
A cool story, I was telling this family about my baptism and what a sacred and special experience it was to me. I told him that I remember walking out in the water to my Dad, and then I thought, "Oh, should I have said that? Is that too much to teach them that a regular person can have the Priesthood authority?" And then, this kid who is about 20 and doesn't have a family said, "That is pretty cool that your earthly father got to help you get closer to your Heavenly Father."
I was like, WHOA!! It hit me so hard. What a cool opportunity I had to be baptized by my father. And it is so true, you have always helped me rely on my Heavenly Father.
I have seen so many broken families out here, with so many crazy life adventures. I wish everyone had a Dad like you. Well, I guess they all have Heavenly Father, and look at me, out here trying to teach people of that significance! Which is pretty cool, actually.
There is so much confusion down here in the South and it is easy to get caught up in it. Church is looked at as a fun, entertaining experience. Everyone church hops to find the best preacher that fits their personality.
It isn't as much about which doctrine is right, so it really interesting to try and explain to people that is a way of life, and something that takes work to be a part of. A lot of the churches out here make SOOO much money, it is crazy. We don't have a paid ministry. It is really humbling to see the stark contrast.
Some things that are really Southern: macaroni and cheese, lots of meat,lots of little rescue dogs, and they love to talk about Satan. Man, they say stuff like, "And then Satan walked through my door, and I told him to leave right then." It's just a different cultural thing.
And every day we come back smelling like SMOKE!! We say that we don't work hard enough if we don't smell like smoke at the end of the day.
And OH MY Heavens....it is freezing!!! Oh my, we ran to the library, and I thought someone was pushing ice cubs into my skin. I have never been so worn out and defeated by this type of cold.
It hit me this week that I am an actual missionary. Weird right? I just finished my first transfer and am still staying in Mt. Juliet. I am slowly seeing that missionary work does work and the way they do it is for a reason. Even though it drives me nuts with all of the calling and organizing stuff and trying to get rides, it all needs to be done. And it is all helping a better cause.
Micheal is getting baptized on Feburary 15th!!! Wahooo!!! That is a miracle for sure! He told us that he said a specific prayer and got a specific answer. Watching these things happen, I can see how there really is a Heavenly Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ really does change people. Going into people's homes from start to end, I have seen the light in people's eyes change. The gospel is really the only way for one to feel true JOY!
We are teaching the Douglas Family.
The mom is a recent convert, and now her husband and 4 boys are learning about our church. They range from 13 to 20 years old. It is so cool to see them start to feel comfortable praying and reading the Book of Mormon. They seem so much happier and there is a different spirit in their home. We made a calendar for them of a different chapter to read in the Book of Mormon and then on Saturday we are all going to fast with them to know if the Book of Mormon is true. They have been coming to church! And here is the craziest thing--we have been begging our ward to help us fellowship the people that we get to come to church. And nothing has really changed, and then BAM!!! Zack--19 year old boy--gets up during testimony meeting and says, "So, y'all keep bearing your testimony about the Book of Mormon. What is it? Why do you believe it? " And he invited everyone to tell him their conversion story. He ended with, " Y'all are AWESOME!" I was shocked. There was a smile so big on my face. The ward got the hint after that, and the rest of the meeting was filled with people going up to the stand directing their testimonies right at Zack. SO AWESOME!
I love you guys! Thanks for all the prayers! Ah, I am making it through. Some days are harder than others. Gosh, I hate having so many feelings and crying so much. But I am learning and enjoying all of it!