I'll try to keep it short this week.
So I never got to write about last Monday at the Point! There were about 20 missionaries there, only that elite were invited. Jk. But it was fun. We played ultimate frisbee. The Point is something else. From the Point Fountain you can see the bridges, Carnegie Science, Heinz stadium, PNC Park, and the city. Pictures do not do it justice, it's beautiful! We wandered downtown, Pittsburgh is definitely making a city girl out of me. PA has the perfect balance of boonies/ big city. Quite a contrast from all the winding green back roads to the cities. Anyway, downtown Pittsburgh is unreal. 😍
Unfortunately Saturday night, the fourth was pretty depressing haha. We climbed out in attempt to see the fireworks- in for our 9:00 curfew, but they were blocked. But we got to listen to them.. Haha. Mission probs.
The Pirates game was so fun! The Relief Society President, Sister Cook, who you apparently heard from, happens to be a die-hard Pirates fan. She's got season tickets and goes with her brother to every game. By the way, she said she would take me again with all the family when you guys come pick me up!😉 Maybe you should plan it when the Tigers are playing @ pnc to make it interesting. She informed me that Miggy's out for the season? Anyway, it was an efficient game, more of a pitchers game. Only lasted a few hours. But Pirates won V the Indians. Go Bucs!
So when we first made plans to go she had arranged for her brother to drive separate, he's pretty anti anything to do with mormons, haha. So we were surprised when she showed up to pick us up with him. Anyway, he seemed very nice and even bought our dinner at the park and said we could go with them again.
Yesterday in Relief Society she shared that after we were dropped off he said how he felt something different around us. Apparently she had been very worried and praying all week that it would go okay, haha. Maybe they were both worried we were going to sit and read the Book of Mormon with him the whole game hahah. He noted our "sweet innocence," which I know was not us at all. That's the spirit talking.(: While he swore he would never let his daughters do what we're doing in Butler- he said "If they came to my door, I would let them in, but I wouldn't listen." Haha. Sister Cook was very grateful he felt what he had never let her share with him.
If any one is ever struggling with the sabbath day, think of sister cook, the ultimate fan, who stayed home from the opportunity to meet the entire team at batting practice because it was on a Sunday. That's commitment, haha.
You guys are probably sick of hearing about the same gators, but here's what's goin on this week.
Katie's is always a humbling opportunity. Everyone here lives off of welfare, food stamps, and/or disability. It's especially sad to see such young ones come in.. I make sure to sneak them an extra cookie or two. Everyone knows our name there now, and while we have many "friends," the people at Katie's are always standing within 10 feet as our body guards. It's cute, haha they don't realize this is every day for us.
Anyway, serving there definitely makes me count my blessings. It's so sad.
We got to spend some time in the infamous "Island," where no one dares to enter, haha. It's the ghetto of Butler. Makes me laugh because it's not much different from the rest of Butler. Also happens to be my favorite place to go. Sometimes you gotta dig a little deeper, they need the gospel too, hahah. And thanks to mom for sending the mace.(: lol.
We haven't seen Thomas again yet but we do wave when he passes us on the street in the community service van haha. So no real update there.
You know how nervous we were to teach Bill the Word of Wisdom- worrying that would make or break his decision. So we saw him again Wednesday. He told us that
1- the following Monday after we taught the Word of wisdom, his work implemented a non-smoking policy!
2- every time he has tried to smoke, the taste is "revolting." He has gone from 60/ day to none.
Quite the miracle! We set his baptismal date back to August 1 to work out smoking and drinking, but I am confident he will make it. Lots of fasting and prayers his way.
He got a priesthood blessing on Sunday. We were not there to see it, but he called us after church to tell us he felt "a warm feeling that came over me and so much happiness."
Phyllis is great as always. She prayed for us for the first time we've been seeing her this week, twice! We have invited her every time but she would always say "no thank you." Her prayer was so sweet. She began "Heavenly Father," a very Mormon thing to say, hahah. She thanked Heavenly Father for "sending these good women to her to teach her about the scriptures," (Yes, she referred to the Book of Mormon as scripture.) and to socialize a little bit." Hahaha. She always busts up laughing in her prayers, she cracks herself up, haha. She is quite the lady, and she's made good friends with the nice ladies in the ward here.
"Every new convert in the church needs three things- responsibility, a friend, and nourishment by the good word of God." Gordon B Hinkley(:
We got to see Brother Z (the excommunicated member) again Friday night. I don't remember how much I've told you about him, but he has served many callings in the church, including the Bishopric for many many years. He knows his stuff. And every time we have gone over there he really teaches us, haha. Well this week we brought Brother Firouzi with us, the ward mission leader and old friend of Brother Z.
As we sat and talked, I felt should ask a bold question haha. I asked what's keeping him. And that its time for him to come back.
He told us he story, tears in his eyes- about how 10 years ago when he was excommunicated. He told us they explained as they did it, it was "out of love" to "help him get back on the right path."
He told us- since the day that happened, 10 years ago, us, the missionaries were the first people to knock on his door. Not a single phone call, not a visit, nothing for 10 years. And he asked "and you want to tell me that was out of love?"
He told us he missed having the Holy Ghost. It was so present, and we all recognized that. He said "I know it's time. I need to be baptized again."
Later that night I was thinking about his story, I was astonished that no one had reached out to him for 10 years.. But I realized people must have been worried to offend, to approach such a sensitive subject. Yet by choosing rather to do nothing, it was what kept him all these years. The fear of offending him had kept people from making sure he felt loved.
Many times I have seen with the less active members we see here all many people are waiting for is someone to tell them that they are missed. That they are loved and appreciated I'm he ward. That someone cares if they make it on Sundays.
I will no longer hesitate to be that person.
There is a difference between being converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and being converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We need both.
It is possible to be active in the church and "less active" in the gospel.
"Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.
By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?"
-Donald L. Hallstrom
In Brother Z's case, he was very much converted to the gospel, but missing the conversion to the church. In many other cases, people may be very active in the church- showing up every Sunday, checking their callings off the list, and calling themselves converted.
Sometimes the word "gospel" and "church" are used interchangeably, but they are not. We need them both.
Okay, I'll get off my soap box. Yup, I'm becoming a missionary.
Woops, I said is would be short.
I think that's all.
Transfers are coming soon- July 14. I'm certain I'll be sticking around in Butler. I don't want to leave, that's for sure.
I love being a missionary, and I love the gospel and the church of Jesus Christ.
I am trying to be a better missionary, a better teacher, a better person everyday. Mostly I am trying to be more patient- especially with myself. Maybe one day. Haha
The church is true!