I would probably call this week a whirlwind of awesomeness, sickness, and what-the-heckedness. It was just such a mixture of normal missionary work, seeing old people from past areas, and people partaking in ORDINANCES for salvation. It was ridiculously awesome. And since there is so much, I am a little bit overwhelmed thinking about how to tell to it y'all. Let's see how it goes:
To start off, I have served in 6 different areas around Tennessee, and somehow this week I managed to see someone from each area....that has never happened...and probably won't ever again. On Monday I was on an exchange with my Spanish soul sister, and I got to eat dinner with my unexpected friend, Courtney who is from Jamestown.
I had only met her twice in real life before, but somehow we have just clicked, and she was a tender mercy from the Lord when my grandpa passed, and so it was a sweet experience to get to see her again. We ate at a Southern burger place, and I ate a hamburger, with a burger, plus pork, plus coleslaw, plus baked beans, plus pickles....all in the burger. I thought half of it was going to be sides, but the Tennessee way prevails, and oh do I LOVE IT!!!
And then, Tuesday and Wednesday, we worked hard, but reaped only some successes. But we wore smiles, and hey, that made me a happy camper. And by Thursday morning, I was out on an exchange in the country, which is MY PLACE. It is a town called Hohenwald. Two missionaries were murdered there 130 years ago, and they just had their first baptisms last month in 130 years. The cute sister I went on exchanges with has only been out for five weeks, and boy did she give me the greenie fire. Somehow, by divine intervention, we ended up tracting, get this, Carl Tatum road.
No joke. Not going to lie, most pumped tracting day of my life. At the end of the night, we were teaching the Restoration to a recent convert again, and I pointed to Sister H, and said, "Now, she is going to tell you Joseph Smiths Story." And there she went on, bearing strong testimony, putting her whole heart into it. It was so sweet, and the Spirit was so powerful. And when we got into the car, at the end of the night, she said, "OH MY GOODNESS, THAT LESSON WAS AWESOME!! I have never taught the Restoration that good in my life, I usually just read it from the pamphlet, but I didn't even look at the pamphlet ONCE! Tonight is a journal writing night!" I wish you could have felt her excitement. It brought back so many memories of learning the lessons myself at the beginning of my mission. I think sometimes, its good for all of us to reflect on and find joy in the little victories throughout the day! The innocence in life is SO GREAT!
Friday one of my sweet Laurels named Holly came out on exchanges with me, all the way from Mt. Juliet, which was my first area. She drove us around, and we went "historical tracting" because the houses are over a million dollars worth, and were built in the 1830's. I felt like I was in a movie.
And then we ate dinner with one of my less-active AMAZING friends from Smyrna, my 4th area. It was so weird, like my whole mission life was coming together. I just kept thinking, "Wow, the Lord sure does make it up to you after hard times." All of my former investigators told me of things I had promised them in lessons, that I didn't even remember saying, and they told me that they had been fulfilled. It shocked me. I didn't realize how much the Spirit can accomplish until that moment. It made my heart very grateful for all the areas in which I have served.
But that is not all folks, ah, on Saturday morning, two of the people I taught came down from Clarksville YSA to do baptisms for the dead. There was Aaron. I had knocked on his door, taught him the Restoration for the first time, and there he was, doing baptisms for the dead. And he told me, "You know how you told me, to write down my feelings at my baptism? I have felt so tempted the last few days, and I just felt the Spirit tell me to remember my baptism. I wouldn't have been able to truly know, if you hadn't told me to write it down." BLEW ME AWAY. We need to write down our Spiritual experiences. The Lord gave them to us for a reason, and sometimes remembering them is where we fall short.
And then (ah I am OUT OF BREATH, by the way) I have the sniffles, so all these events happened while I was awkwardly sniffing. So, this wonderful lady--I call her Susan, mostly because that's her name--she finally was ready to go through the temple, and it was just a year after her baptism. She got sick this week, with BRONCHITIS, so she received her first priesthood blessing and went to the temple anyway. Watching her sit in the temple chapel, coughing her guts out, my whole heart went out in prayer, and so did everybody else's. But a couple minutes into the session . . . she STOPPED coughing and didn't cough again until it was over. The Lord is so proud of her, and it was a hard experience for her. She handled it better than me, but not much. It was amazing to see her faith though, and she talked to God, and pondered in the Celestial Room. We got to welcome her in, and give her a big hug, and I said to her, "WELCOME HOME!" Can I just tell you, what a neat experience it was. It will probably only happen once on my mission, but so worth it. As I thought about my grandparents, and my family in there, my testimony was strengthened, that we will all be together again, and will be together forever!
Oh my gosh, so one last miracle. James, from Thompson Station, met up with us later that night to teach some recent converts. It was so cool, he was just baptized a year and a half ago, and he has such a strong testimony. He called me "the Frampicinno or FramptonInn" Too good. And once again, an amazing spiritual experience. My Spirit was getting a work out. I just can't thank the people of Tennessee enough, everyone of them, for making my journey here worth everything to me. I just can't express enough my gratitude! I love them!!
Sunday rolled around, and at 7:30 sharp, I went to an Episcopal church for the first time. It was, surprisingly enough, the first church I had gone to, not of our faith, on my mission. I have been to others before, but in the South, it was a first. It was the oldest church in Franklin, started in 1830, with stain glass windows, and such. I really enjoyed it. We were invited by this nice old man named Bobby. He showed us the ropes of how to say the prayers, when to stand and kneel, and I was so grateful, and everyone was really nice. I truly have such a respect for those practicing other faiths. And then at 11, Bobby came with us to our ward. Oh my goodness, the coolest experience. So Bobby is Catholic, but feels comfortable more at this other church. Everyone introduced themselves to him, and he was just eating it up. And there was a baby being blessed, and he asked us what it was, and when we told him, he said, "I just got the chills." It was like testimony meeting was catered to what he needed to hear, and he looked almost teary eyed the whole time. There were so many young kids that bore strong testimony, and he was so impressed.
You never know who needs your testimony, you really don't.
I learned that no effort is ever wasted. That the people of the South are too kind. And so are all of you who read my letters. I also learned that Jesus makes all the difference, and paid the entire price. Thank the heavens huh? I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Or in my new language, I LOVE Y'ALL!!!!