Hey friends and fam,
It was a good week. Y'all ready? Here comes a looooong one.
I received two very special packages this week! One- from mom! You have officially filled my cupboards and my tummy for the next six weeks.(: My comp and I are very happy, haha. In fact, you fed us both the past three days including tonight, because the member signed up to feed us got arrested and is back in prison... Don't you hate when that happens? (That was insensitive.)
The other was from Hunter's mom! It was so cute, full of treats and lotion and good stuff. I happened to come home to it after a long hard day, it made my week. It's good to have my mission moms, I feel very loved.(: Haha. I've smelled like "happiness" all week.
Our week started out strong with the Hoy's. They are just amazing. We have gotten so close to that family. Monday night we went over and were talking about Lamont's baptism, and Shekera out of the blue said she has decided she wants to be baptized with her brother. That was a very cool surprise. We've seen the Hoy's quite a bit this week. Saturday night was the Butler farm show, it's a huge event here. Anyway, Lamont even left all his friends early so he could be at our lesson Saturday night. He was excited to relay the story from Nephi he read, haha. Sadly, he told us of an encounter he had at the farm show about someone giving him a hard time. Someone gave him a pamphlet from another church, and Lamont's response was "I'm mormon." Well the guy started bashing the mormon religion, it was clear Lamont was pretty embarrassed and overwhelmed, he being very new to just about everything. But he held his ground haha. Sad that he has already had an experience with it. But it was cute that he is already calling himself a "mormon."
He then told us he wants to serve a mission! That one took us by surprise! I still can't believe it, I am so happy for that family. That night Lamont sent us a text and said "Thank you for everything, I mean that."
This meant a lot coming from him, we have seen an amazing change in him, since the kid who wouldn't come out of his room for lessons, to the kid who had to be dragged downstairs for lessons by his mom, to getting baptized and wanting to serve a mission!
His baptism will be this Saturday. His sisters, Shana, Tiara, Shekera, and I will be singing at his baptism, and Shana will be speaking. It is going to be such an awesome day. I am so happy for their family.
Guess who's back! Phyllis is back. We finally built up the courage to go see her again. I was expecting her to say she had finished the whole Book of Mormon to be honest, hahah. But she said she gave it to her friend, who is Native American and told her that she was "Lamanite" and wanted her to read it. She even put our number in it. Look at her, doing missionary work already.
So Dad and Jansen- I took your advice with sharing Matthew 3 about Christ's baptism with her. When we returned she told us that "there are two different doctrines about Adam's transgression, but she didn't know which one was correct." She then told us she understood and believed that baptism by immersion was indeed correct. That's our Phyllis, hahah. And it's a huge step that she acknowledged that she doesn't know which is correct about the other question, a big step from when she wasn't even willing to consider anything but what the Catholic Church had taught her the last time we saw her. It was very clear to me that the Lord had been hard at work with her all the time we were away, He had greatly softened her heart.
We taught her about the role of the Book of Mormon this week, and she basically taught the lesson for us. She literally quoted Preach my Gospel a couple times.
"The bible and the Book of Mormon support each other."
-Phyllis, PMG pg. 106
She basically bore her testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.
"The Book of Mormon is proof that God spoke to all nations and all people, and continues to do so today through modern prophets."
We got to be a part of some very special priesthood blessings this week. The first was one of our investigators, Courtney, who just had her baby on Wednesday. The elders were dropping us off after zone training, and we were about to head up to the hospital to see her and decided to invite them to come to give her a blessing.
There is so much power in the words "By the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood that I hold." This was definitely one of the strongest times that I have felt the presence of the spirit. After, she asked for one for her new baby, just a few hours old, Joseph. Elder Klima's hands were bigger than the entire baby, haha, but he gave a special blessing to him.
The other was Kristi, the mother of two. We took her on a church tour Saturday evening, we showed her the building, the font, etc. A member in the ward came to give her a blessing. I am not sure if she understands everything yet, but I know she felt the spirit that night. Their family is in a real hard place right now, and she is fighting some serious addictions and mental illnesses. Her kids, Legend and Legacy, 3 and 1, love me, they're so dang cute. Haha, even the one year old doesn't leave my side whenever we are with them.
This week I am grateful for the priesthood.
We got to see Ivan this week, he is doing well. We don't see him much because he is not really progressing. We stopped by to drop something off and as we were talking out on the porch one of his housemates came out to eat. We started talking to him, and I very nonchalantly invited him to join us. Haha. He did, and it was awesome. We taught him again Sunday night. His name is Ken, very smart guy. He just soaked it all in, I love when it just clicks with certain people. For him it clicked. We will see him again tonight, fingers crossed. As he said the closing prayer yesterday, the first prayer he has said in years, he thanked God for "the chance to start anew." Good things to come with him.
As we were leaving Ivan's last week, he stopped us to give us a ten minute lecture on our safety. He tells us again and again, he does not want anything to happen to "his sisters."
"Tengan mucho cuidado Hermana, Los hermanos se protejen unos a otros."
(Be very careful sisters, brothers and sisters protect each other." He told us if anything happened to us he would beat someone up haha. He also tipped us off on someone he saw us teaching a few weeks ago, Maurice with some info... Yeah we won't be seeing him again. Ivan's got our back.
We had a weird lesson with a guy who tricked us into meeting with him to slam us with anti mormon literature and to convince us we needed to be saved. He started asking really uncomfortable questions about the temple and garments.. So we shut that down quick and left. He actually used to be a member.
Also, we may have finally found a way to teach Nora and Cicy, the Chinese mom and daughter we help with their English. Sunday as we were at our usual 4:00 appointment with them, I noticed the mom, Cicy, was wearing a cross. They asked us what missionary meant, so it was the perfect opportunity. Cicy speaks zero English, and Nora's is very limited, but she translates everything to her mom. We very simply explained that we teach about Jesus Christ, like her necklace, and pointed to our name tags. Turns out she didn't know what the cross was, or Jesus Christ, she just bought the necklace. We have no idea what their background is, but we did our best to explain the Book of Mormon is the simplest of English terms and they said they would read it, so we are going to order a Chinese Book of Mormon for them!
We have been seeing this recent convert lately who is quite the character. This week he invited us over for hot dog dinner and to help him paint his trailer. So Pennsylvania. He told us he invited us because "he needed to talk to us about something- how are we ever going to find a man if we're always working and we're always together?" Hahaha.
So we are teaching a Lutheran minister right now, haha. He's pretty cool, he's halfway through the Book of Mormon! I'll let you know what develops there later on.
Sunday was the most stressful day, as they always are. Sunday's are a headache, arranging rides, trying to get people to come to church, worrying about everyone, and then we ended up teaching gospel principles and relief society this week because the teachers didn't show. We seem to always be "on-call" for subbing in. At least one class each week. Haha. I don't mind actually, and it went well this week.
We're putting on a Meet the Mormons movie night for everyone, so that's our project for the next few weeks. We invited the whole ward, and we'll have them invite friends and neighbors, and we'll invite all our investigators. Should be a really fun night! Everyone in the ward is already signing up for food, it's on the 28, so pray that goes well and people show. Haha. I love the Butler ward. Fun fact... Everyone here is related. Everyone. The ward is made up of three "clans" they call them- the Eberle's, the Popa's, and the Critchlow's.
We had a really great Zone training this week about the Book of Mormon. There really is so much power in that book. I have come to love it. When I first came out to the mission field I was determined to read through it again cover to cover, and I read the entire book in less than one week. I knew that I would not be able to convert anyone beyond my own conversion.
The past five months I have had numberless encounters with "anti-Mormons." And it has been a huge blessing for me. At first each time left me feeling so frustrated, humiliated, and mad. A few times in particular I remember well. I just wanted to dish it back to them. But all I did each time was bear my testimony, and leave feeling pretty defeated. I have mentioned before that the first couple times I was scared that it was effecting my own testimony. Those nights are the nights I spent praying the hardest. I am so grateful for those experiences.
There are just so many miracles I get to experience and be a part of every single day here, I wish I could share them all.
The last thing I wanted to share is one that is more personal. Each week as I read my patriarchal blessing I am amazed at how much I can see my mission written on those pages. I laugh now because I remember how disappointed I was when my blessing did not specify that I would serve a mission. And I struggled deciding if I was supposed to go. Reading it now everything in there is about the things I am going through and the things I see people going through out here, and all the special people I meet. This week the line that stuck out to me was
"...through these struggles which may sometimes pull at your very heart strings, you will come to know of the Savior's love and understand His Atonement more deeply. Your soul will be further expanded, your heart will be further enlarged, and you will be better able to serve others as a disciple of the Lord...."
Couldn't say it better myself.
I love this work. And I love being a missionary, thank you to those who help me through hard days and help me get to the good!
"When it comes to serving the Lord, He cares just as much about the instrument as He does the task at hand."
I am in good hands.(:
Ps. Watch this video attached.
Lifting Burdens (3:35)
Lifting Burdens (3:35) Apostles of Jesus Christ testify of the Savior's power to heal, change, and purify us through His Atonement.