Dearest family and friends,
Wow!!! What an amazing week this has been!!! :) Can I just say....what a blessing it is to be a missionary! I LOVE this calling. I LOVE being here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Honestly. I'm the luckiest girl in the whole world right now because I get to be here...in Atlanta...representing Jesus Christ. What could be better?? Not even Disneyland...nope. Not even.
Cockroaches....okay, so I figured first I would explain the subject of this email. So, you know how I've become the designated bug killer of this companionship? Yeah, well there was a GIANT cockroach in our kitchen on Sunday morning. My companions took one look at it, and ran away. So, it was my job to kill the beast. Alright....so, my plan was to trap it in a box, and take it outside. My companions filmed me doing so. I had to get up on our kitchen table, and surprise it with an aerial attack. I succeeded, and the beast was gone. To all those who think I'm a wimp and can't handle bugs....TAKE THAT!! :) I just thought I'd let you all know...oh, and I killed a spider...a large spider. Yep. This companionship was inspired.m It's helped me get over my fear of bugs ;)
Celebrities...so, on Sunday (yesterday) our stake president visited our sacrament meeting. I had to play the piano for sacrament meeting because no one in the branch plays piano. So, I was looking at the stake president from behind. I recognized his name sort of, and he looked familiar. Why on earth would a stake president in Atlanta Georgia look familiar to me? So after the meeting, we went to greet one of our investigators. I turned around and saw the stake president walking down the aisle. I said hi, he said hi...and then it hit me. MY STAKE PRESIDENT IS THE BISHOP FROM THE MEET THE MORMONS MOVIE!!!!!!! Of course now he's a stake president. But it's him. Jermaine Sullivan, if that's how you spell his name. After church, I totally got to shake his hand and talk to him. BOOM. I cannot believe that this happened!! It was my secret dream to meet the bishop from the movie, since he's from Atlanta. But I thought the chances were slim because Atlanta is huge. So, yeah. He's my stake president in my first area. That's pretty cool.
Miracles...okay. This week has been absolutely amazing. I don't think I could've chosen a better time to come on a mission. We've seen so many miracles this week. Before I came, my companions didn't have very many investigators, and a lot of people weren't answering their calls...so they just tracted a lot. After I came, the fruits of their labor started to show. In just one week, at least 5 investigators who stopped talking to us for weeks, even months, started picking up and agreeing to meet with us!! I have two stories. One of them was a man named Lucino. He has been listening to the missionaries for 3 years. He knows everything and he has a strong testimony. He just won't get baptized because he thinks he needs to get married first. Sad day. Then out of nowhere he just stopped answering. Nothing. He dropped off the face of the earth. They tried for weeks upon weeks to get in contact again. But still nothing. THEN, out of nowhere...he answered our call AND he invited us to dinner at his house. HOLY COW!!! It was absolutely amazing!!! He also called us again this week, and he wants us to come to dinner AGAIN! He works all the time and when he isn't working he's sleeping and preparing to work again. So, he has a day off, and he chose his day off to invite the missionaries. Wow. Amazing. Second story: There is a less active named Rosa. She did the same thing, just stopped answering our calls. It was sad. Then, out of the blue, she answered and agreed to meet with us. HOLY COW AGAIN!! So, we went to meet with her, and we were super nervous, because we wanted the lesson to go PERFECT. Then, while we were just getting to know her, she said that her 2 oldest boys age 12 and 11 had already been baptized. But John age 9 hadn't yet...and she wants him to be baptized. So, she had all 4 of her boys, and her little 16 month old girl sit and hear our lesson - their entire family, at the request of their mother. Wow. We taught them the Restoration...and John said he wanted to be baptized. He asked his mom, she said yes, and we have him on date. Wow. Miracle after miracle after miracle. I can't even believe it. Next miracle. We went on exchanges this last Friday and apparently it's really early to do them right now...but they happened. So, the sister trainers decided to leave Hermana Stewart and me here with Sister Lund, and Sister Gallardo went with Sister Olsen to English speaking. I. Was. Terrified. Hermana Stewart has only been out for 8 weeks and I've only been out for almost 2. We DID NOT know enough Spanish to teach by ourselves for a whole day. I was scared out of my mind. I had to keep telling myself that it was the Lord that wanted it to happen this way for some reason. So, I prepared. Holy cow. Exchanges were amazing. I was able to understand every word and say everything that I wanted to say. All my studies that morning were directed exactly to the needs of everyone we taught that day. It was incredible. I realized that day that I didn't need Sister Gallardo. I didn't need a fluent speaker to "save" me when I got stuck. I only need the Lord. The Lord showed me that day that I can do it...even if it's not perfect...I can do it. I also was feeling before that the people we taught only liked us because Sister Gallardo was fluent, but after exchanges, I realized it wasn't true. They loved all of us. They loved us because of the Spirit. They felt the spirit every time we taught. Whether it was perfect Spanish, or broken Spanish, the spirit was the same. That was a lesson I needed to learn. And I needed to learn it right away. So, this week was INCREDIBLE!! :)
Investigators...Well, I know our investigators a little better, so I'll talk about the ones that I've grown really close to. Let's start with Walter. Oh how I love Walter!! He has a sweet wife, and children. A FAMILY. Boom. Walter is amazing. He always talks to us about what he thinks a church should have...and he basically describes our church. I can feel how ready he is. I love teaching him. He listens super intently, and truly desires to learn more. And he even reads the Book of Mormon. He expresses some concerns, but he's always willing to learn more, and learn why what he thinks may not be true. The Hispanics favorite thing to say is "I have church inside...I keep it in my heart...I don't need to go...it's in here." It's super frustrating. BUT. Walter now believes that GOING to church could be important, and he's willing to try it out. He is SO amazing. I wish you could just see his smile when he feels the spirit. Next is Hilda and Antonio. They are from Peru, oh Walter is from Guatemala. Hilda and Antonio have the CUTEST little kids. ANOTHER FAMILY. Hermana Gallardo found them before I came. She was taking out her trash, and struggling a little, so Hermana Gallardo helped out...and then they started taking lessons. They heard pretty much all of them. The only thing they lacked was a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped returning our calls...and disappeared. It was heart breaking. THEN a couple in the branch befriended them, invited us all to dinner, and they got reactivated. The whole family even came to church yesterday!!!! MEMBERS ARE THE BEST!!! We need more member missionaries in the church. They do SO much. So, they are an amazing couple. Next is a lady named Dalia. She is a less active, but her kids aren't baptized. She hasn't agreed to meet with us, but the missionaries have been working with her kids for 3 years now. They are 15, 13, and 11 years old. The elders are teaching them with us too. They are such sweet kids...and I know they feel the spirit and know this church is true. They just need to find their own testimonies, and be willing to give up some things to make church a priority. But, we are working with them. :) Next is Guadalupe. She is SO sweet. She also has a really hard life. Her daughter was killed by her daughter's husband....so she has become the mother of her grandchildren. One of her grandchildren lives in Mexico, the other is 4 and lives with her, and the other is 12 and lives with friends and is into drugs and all that stuff. Guadalupe really feels like she can't be a good mother, and she desperately wants these kids to have a good life. My heart aches for her. She's worried she'll get too old, and can't take care of the little 4 year old. She really needs the church. Desperately. We've taught her quite a few times, and she's quite receptive. She just needs to have faith that following through with the commitments will actually bless her. Wow, I just love all of our investigators. All of them. We currently have 11 progressing right now. It keeps us busy :) I just love watching these people grow, and change. It's amazing. It's also heartbreaking when they don't come to church. Just heartbreaking. You want SO bad for them to come...and then they don't. It truly hurts. You grow to love them SO much, and you want them to feel the spirit in church, and it's so hard when they don't come! But then you just work really hard, and try again the next week. Missionary work is incredible. :)
Little things go a long way - What I've learned is that a simple prayer, or a smile can truly make the difference. We had just finished dinner at a member's house, and we were walking to our car and saw a scary man with tattoos sitting in his car. I thought, wow he's scary, he'd never talk to us. But I just said hi anyway, he said hi back and asked how I was doing. I responded quite enthusiastically that I was doing great. It caught him off guard, and he just laughed and said he was glad that I was so happy. Then it got us talking. He said that his older brother had just passed away, and the whole family was at his house packing up his things. We said a prayer with him, and that was that. It was absolutely incredible. Just a simple prayer gave him more faith in his situation. It was awesome. We were at Wal-Mart getting fruit...because we eat WAY too much starch....and this lady at the checkout was just tired of being at work. We started talking to her, and it totally made her day happier. We made jokes, and told her we hoped she enjoyed the rest of work. It's things like that that make all the difference. People aren't super nice in the line at the grocery store, but when you make an effort to smile, and say hi, it truly makes a difference. We are always representing Jesus Christ, whether we are saying prayers, teaching lessons, or saying hi, or even smiling. We represent Him. A little goes a long way.
Dinosaur museum - so the last thing is the dinosaur museum. Last week for P-Day we went to one in Sandy Springs. Okay. That was the most boring thing I have ever been to in my life.....period. Yikes. It didn't even hold a candle to the one by our house at Thanksgiving point. When we first went I was thinking, hey we should come back when I visit my mission! Then....I was like...nope. Good thing we're going bowling today! Woot woot!
Anyway, that's all I have for this week. If you have specific questions, let me know. I'd be glad to answer them. I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and support!