Dearest Family and Friends,
I know I've only been out 2 months....but this has by far been the best week of my mission so far!!!! I have never experienced this much joy in my entire life!!! I don't even know how to describe the joy I feel!!! :) I truly love being a missionary. I get to be a part of some really neat miracles, and I thank Heavenly Father every day for this opportunity.
Zone Conference....so we had 3 zones combine for a large zone conference. It was absolutely amazing. Can I just say how much I love my mission president? He is so incredible. His focus is entirely on PEOPLE, and using the Book of Mormon. He is incredible. He is full of SO much love. I love him so much. He challenged the entire mission to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before Thanksgiving. We calculated how much we'd have to read, and it's about 1/2 pages per day, which is TOTALLY awesome. He said that while we were doing this challenge, we would be inspired to know who we were supposed to give this Book of Mormon to. So, the whole mission is reading it, recording testimony in it, and passing it along. How incredible is that? I am SO excited about doing this :) We also had a sister's meeting with Sister Foote after the conference. We talked about how we can better work with the Elders. All the missionaries in the mission are super worried about flirting too much...so we've gone to the opposite end of the scale...we are nervous to talk to each other. So, we're trying to find a middle ground :) I love Sister Foote. She is like my 2nd mom out here on the mission.
New missionary training....so we had to go to a new missionary training this last week as well....which made the 2nd trip to Peach Tree City this week. We had to get up at 5 both days. Yikes! Haha :) I LOVED the new missionary training. I just love it period when we gather together as missionaries. I get spiritually fed, and I want to work harder. We had a discussion about some challenges on the mission. I decided to share one. I shared that it was difficult for me to gain the trust of our investigators. They assume I don't know Spanish (since I have a fluent companion, they just talk to her) and they don't even talk to me. I explained that I've had to work really hard to prove to them that I am trying, the spirit will help me teach them if they are willing to be patient with me, and that I love them and have a testimony despite my inability to communicate perfectly. I also added at the end that the food is really spicy ;) Haha, everyone thought that was funny. President Foote shared a story about his mission, and that he knew what I was talking about. He made me feel LOADS better. I've been trying to be a lot more assertive. I have to be willing to make mistakes, and be in awkward situations if I want these people to trust me, and see that I'm trying. Overall, it was a GREAT meeting.
Member missionaries....we need them. They are necessary. I have such a strong testimony of that. We had this couple we were teaching, and we had taught them almost all the lessons. Then all of a sudden they just stopped returning our calls. We prayed for a miracle. The Ayala's (a super strong older couple in the branch) called us and asked for their number because they wanted to invite them to dinner! Holy cow!! The Ayala's totally fellowshipped this couple all on their own. They invited them to dinner WITH us, and then they came to church that Sunday, and now they're progressing again. I am going to say this now, and I want all y'all (had to put some southern in there) to remember this. We need member missionaries. They are EVERYTHING in this work. I have such a testimony of that. We need MORE. You can participate in this work more than you think!!
Abraham and Milagros....so these people are a cute couple from Peru. They are VERY Christian. They believe only the Bible can be scripture - so there lies the challenge. We had a lesson with them. We talked about The Family: A Proclamation to the world, tithing, and how obedience brings blessings. Don't know how that was the lesson, but it was. They absolutely LOVED it and agreed with EVERYTHING. They want a copy of the Proclamation. Wow. Wow. Wow. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! EVERYONE NEEDS TO SERVE A MISSION!!!! AHHH:):) We became SUPER close friends. Abraham even told me he wants me to marry his son so I can be his daughter in law. Haha :) Too bad his son lives in Peru ;) I think they are a very sweet couple. All they need is a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and they are SET. :)
Sunday....this, and the rest of the letter is truly why I have joy in my soul today. Sunday was AMAZING!!!! So, the food gave me a lot of trouble this week, and my stomach has NOT been doing well, so my Sunday started out with a Priesthood blessing. I asked Brother Kenworthy (a random white family in the ward) to give me the blessing. It was absolutely perfect, and everything I needed. I love the Priesthood, and I am so grateful for it :) Then.....oh then.....remember Ana? She's the lady who referred herself onLDS.org? Well, we only had one lesson with her, and haven't been able to meet with her because she's super busy. Well, SHE CAME TO CHURCH AND BROUGHT HER TWO KIDS!!!!!!! We coordinated a ride with a member (go members!!) since she doesn't have a car...and she came. She absolutely LOVED church. LOVED it. And her kids. Edmond is 12 and Ayadi is 8. They are SOOO adorable!!!! I can't even handle it! They were so happy to be there. She is such a sweet lady. I love her SO much. I have truly seen SOOOO many miracles. So many. It's amazing. It was a great Sunday. Absolutely amazing. So, since it was fast Sunday, we had testimony meeting. It was the most amazing meeting I've ever been in. No joke. Sometimes testimonies turn into a huge story, or people try to make it a talk, or even group therapy sometimes. Sometimes testimony meeting has lost the power of a simple statement of truth. I sat in this testimony meeting, and I watched as at least 10 people from the branch filed up one after another to bear SIMPLE truth of the Gospel. It was all simple. I could understand every word. It was so powerful. I was so grateful to be sitting next to Ana, and watch her watch others go up to the pulpit and bear testimony of their Savior, the Book of Mormon, and the Atonement. It was a great meeting. I love the Chamblee branch. I love them SOOO much. If there's one thing they are amazing at, it's fellowshipping. Every investigator that comes instantly has 50 new friends. I am so grateful to be serving in such a sweet branch.
Walter....okay. I love this man with all my heart. Let me just explain everything that's happened with him. The missionaries taught him a couple years ago, and invited him to baptism. He said he would if he learned more. Then they just lost contact with him. Sister Gallardo, when she came, had tried really hard to contact him when she saw him in the area book. He never responded. Then, about 1 week before I came, he answered, and they taught him one lesson. Then after I came, he was never home and never answered. Slowly, we started getting him to respond to us. We'd randomly stop by and visit, call him, send him a text, ANYTHING we could do. Then something changed in him after we taught him the Restoration. He has become our GREATEST friend on the mission. He answers ALL our calls. He is the kindest man I've ever met. He has three kids, and his wife is always working. He isn't working because he fell off a roof and got seriously injured about a year ago, so he can't work until he gets better. He has a lot of pain at night, and his memory is really bad. After that first lesson, he was always gone, or cancelled our lessons. He told us he felt SUPER bad, and SUPER guilty. He really wants to hear, but he always has to drive people places (he has a car, and giving rides is how he makes money). He hasn't come to church because he's either in too much pain, or he forgets. We've taught him about 5 times now. He truly loves this gospel. He loves the book of Mormon, and really wants to come to church. We invited him to baptism, and he really wants to pray about it. We call him everyday, and he is planning on being baptized on September 26th. He is so incredible. I love him so much. He has such a strong testimony, and I believe HE believes this church is right for him. His brother has sparked some interest as well. He wanted a book of Mormon, and the pamphlets we were using. HOW AWESOME???? His kids are interested too. They love it when we come over :) I seriously love teaching him. We are teaching him tomorrow, and he is going to tell us his answer about baptism. Pray for him! :)
Ana....where do I even start???? SHe is amazing. She referred herself on LDS.org. We came and taught her the 3 gifts, and 5 steps lesson. She really liked it. I invited her to baptism, and she said she would when she learned more. We kept trying to schedule lessons, but she was always in South Carolina trying to get her papers, or looking for a job, or babysitting. So, we called her Saturday and invited her to church, and she came the next day. THEN, we came and taught her and her kids yesterday. We promised them brownies, so we brought them brownines. Edmond said he trusts us now. :) Haha. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we felt they needed that most. It was a GREAT lesson. Ana said her kids have never focused this much, or been this interested in something before. They had questions, answered our questions, and wanted to read out of the pamphlet and participate! It was incredible!! We invited all three to be baptized on September 19th, and they all said yes. We put the date in their phone, and they are SOOOO excited. WE HAVE A FAMILY ON DATE FOR BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never been so happy about anything....ever. They are the sweetest family I have ever met!!! I am sooooo excited!!!! The Lord truly is preparing his people. Ana, her family, and Walter are all prepared. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing work. I am blessed every day.
Well, I had the best week of anyone on planet earth, I am sure. I wish I could describe the joy I feel. It's joy from heaven. I get to feel a little piece of the love that God and Jesus Christ have for their children. Just a little piece, but it's more love and joy than I have ever felt before. I have a testimony of this Gospel. It's changed my life, and now I get to see how it changes the lives of others. Thank you to my family for letting me be here. Thank you for sacrificing me being at home, so that I could be out here - learning, growing, and experiencing joy every day. Thanks for all the love and support. I love you all :)
|Milton, Sister Stewart, Sister Bringhurst, Walter, Sister Gallardo|
|Ayari, Ana, Sister Stewart, Sister Bringhurst, Sister Gallardo, Edmond|