My gosh, how are you all? Did you have a good week? I don't know about you, but here its the last week of school for the kids so everyone is getting really excited. I got the pictures of you in Hawaii! That is so crazy! Ah, wow, you guys were so much younger when we were there before. It was fun to see you standing next to Terina--such a small world.
This week, gosh what even happened this week. So many wonderful things and hard things. A mission is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get the next minute. At the start of the week, we had President Interviews, and our new council is to tract every day for one hour. And so, we were knocking doors, and we met a guy who loved to draw Native Americans, so I related the Book of Mormon heritage to this guy, and was able to commit him to read the Introduction. Little miracles! But with all good things, comes opposition. I didn't want us to be late for our ride to President Interviews, and so we started walking back to our apartment. My companion got upset at me because we only had been knocking doors for 55 minutes and not a whole 60. I lost it at that point. I was trying so hard to be on time to something else and I meant well, and oh my. Not my most shining moment as a missionary. I was pleading for help walking into President Interviews.
And the Lord provides help. It was such a relief to feel the love of my mission president and his wife. The moment I walked in to talk to Sister Andersen, I just felt the unconditional love she had for me, and she wanted to help me. She reminded me to focus on the beauty of nature, and the little chirping of the birds, and all of the beautiful things around, instead of getting wrapped up in the stress of it all. And then the first thing President asked me was, "How are you doing personally?" Ah, he is so in tune with the Spirit! He was able to talk me through things, and make me feel good about all the things I had been doing. I felt SO much better when I walked out of there, because I was beginning to get worried that I had lost my spark and my kindness. And my favorite part, is always when he closes with a prayer. Heavenly Father really is in charge of this work, and I felt so much love from Him in that moment.
And the next day, I got to go on an exchange with a sister down in Hohenwald. Now, keep in mind, this is the boonies. My first time getting to serve out in the real sticks. It was so crazy and fun. I loved the small town, small homes, lifestyle. They lived in a little trailer home. And we decided to go out and tract for an hour, I like to call it the "FINDING POWER HOUR" We started down this road, and miracles were just flying through the air. I was in shock. I have been knocking for months, and all the sudden the second door we knocked on, a nice mother and daughter came out. We were able to bear testimony of the plan of salvation, because we found out her dad just passed away the day before. It hit me so hard, seeing the sad face of that girl, and being able to teach her that families can be together forever.
Things didn't stop there. We knocked across the street, and this nice couple let us in their home. WHAT THE . . . I was in shock. My mind was reeling . . . they are letting us in, what do we do know? This hasn't happened to me before!! It was almost too easy, and felt so nice. This couple and their parents sat around, and listened as we bore testimony of the Restoration of the gospel. It was my turn next and I had the privilege to say the First Vision. The Spirit was so strong, and none of them looked like they were questioning for one moment what we said. And as I said the words of Joseph Smith and his experience, the sweet lady who let us in, started to cry. There were tears streaming down her face. I think this is the first moment where I realized the power and the significance of those words. There was a cutting silence and peace in that house that I haven't felt in a long time. I wanted to weep because I was so humbled. Before we left, I asked them how they felt and they all said "Good!" And my companion scheduled to come back on another day.
I literally walked out of that door in pure shock at the power of God. No questions. No fighting. They just listened with a smile on their face. Ah, there really are prepared people out there to hear the message. We found 7 new investigators that day! More than I have found in a while...We sat in the car afterwards and said a prayer of thanks. I wish I could see and really appreciate all that the Lord does for me on a daily basis. Sometimes my natural man is stronger than I realize, but thank goodness for the atonement! Right?
When I came back to Thompson Station, there were a lot of ups and downs, but I will never forget the look that lady had on her face when she heard the First Vision. Ah, gosh the Spirit is so awesome!
This Sunday, we met up with our new ward mission leader. He is so excited and ready to work hard. He said so many things that I have been fighting for and working towards! What a MIRACLE!!! I just feel so strongly that we are going to build this area up and miracles are just going to start to fly out of windows. We won't be able to believe all of the moments coming our way!
A fun story to finish off the week...we went to a Baptist Bible Study that is held every Sunday night. I guess missionaries have been going for years as a way to contact people, and we just found out about it. It was a whole new experience. It was full of kids that were college age, and the woman in charge has made it a place of refuge for these kids. It's an open door policy. Literally, she hates it when people knock on the door, and don't just walk right in. It inspired me to see how much she cared about these kids, and wanted the best for them. The South is filled with SOOO many wonderful people, worshiping Jesus. Seriously, it is astounding in so many ways. They went around and sung some common hymns...well, I had never heard them before....but anyways. And then we read the book of Jude in the Bible. Her husband is a Pastor at the church. Apparently, its a big scandal that Mormon missionaries go to it, but hey, we like to make things exciting! Listening to them talk about Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I was overcome with a feeling of, "THEY ARE SO CLOSE!! We need to help them see the big picture." There relationship with God is so important to them, they just need help on their way.
It inspired me to do that for youth when I come home some day. Don't let me forget this idea, okay? Youth are going through so many different things, and trials. They need a comfortable place to feel loved and welcome, no matter what. A good environment to get out their feelings, otherwise they will go and get it out somewhere else. How cool would it be to open up your house to the youth on Sunday nights, to eat, and sing songs, and have a spiritual message. I don't know, am I becoming Southern yet? It's my biggest desire...aside from helping the people here reach salvation!
Anyways, I guess my message this week is, there are good people out there. The Lord is preparing people to hear the message of the restored gospel. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and really a servant of the Lord to help all of us find clarity and happiness in this life. The Restoration is so powerful and SO REAL!! I hope all of you are feeling how pumped I am about this. The gospel is meant to make us happy. We have more knowledge and are more blessed these days, than ever in history. It's time to be happy. It's time to be to really relish in the inner happiness that comes from being on a mission, and forget about all the little things that can get in my way. I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be learning.
I LOVE YOU ALL!! Go out and there and be happy. SMILE AND BE HAPPY!