This weekend was Stake Conference. It was in Huntington, West Virginia. I was having a real bad day—homesick, and doubting that I can really do this, but then we go with a member, Sister Brown, to conference and the first thing I see as I walk in the door is my District Leader from the MTC, Elder Banta. I basically ran to him and he gave me the warmest handshake of my life. My MTC District really is family now. Friends for life. It turns out Elder Banta is in a trio with the Zone Leaders in Huntington. As we’re talking, I hear, “Sister Lytle,” and it is the Bountiful missionary who comes and shakes my hand! But wait, it gets better. When we all go into the chapel, lo and behold, Sister Frehner (my instagram girl) is on the other side! She sees me and we basically push everyone over to get to each other. Longest and best hug of my life. Oh my gosh, and apparently her adjustment has been hard, too. I got her address so we can write! Anyway, seeing all those people, and finally feeling loved, completely changed my day.
After, we had a meeting at the B----- house at about 7:30 expecting to teach R----- and her husband M------. They live at the B-----house, which is what we call it only because B------ is the last name of R-------, a man Sister Boldrin and her companion baptized only a week before I got to Ashland. SO many people live in that house! It really is the epitome of an Ashland, Kentucky home. So many people are always going in and out, with kids constantly slamming the door or crying. And of course, someone is ALWAYS out on the front porch taking a drag on a cigarette. B------, who seems to be the head of the house, is a sweet old lady who calls every kid “baby.” I just love going over there. In a weird way it feels like home. This particular night was a little chilly, but we all sat on the porch for our lesson. At the B------ house, you make an appointment to see someone specific, but you usually end up getting a few more people listening in than expected. Tonight, we had three. We tried to teach the Restoration, but they were a little more interested in making jokes. We taught a little, and laughed a lot that night. Normally I would feel lame for not keeping on topic, but tonight I was comforted, as if God was saying, “It’s okay, Darcy, you’ve got to love these people if you’re going to teach them.” That night, I really did love the people of Kentucky.
A day or two after that, my tender mercy came very unexpectedly. We were trying to contact a referral who wasn’t there, so we were knocking a few doors around where the referral lived. We knocked on a door and an older lady answered. Sister Boldrin used her go-to move and offered to pray with her. She began to pray, and when she finished, I opened my eyes, and the woman at the door had tears rolling down her cheeks. As an almost automatic response, we both hugged her. She then said, “My husband has cancer. We just found out. We’re actually headed to the hospital just now.” She caught her breath and wiped her eyes, and said, “I wish I had more time to talk.” We’re going to see her next week. It was such an amazing experience to watch the spirit work like that, and such a lesson to me, to trust my companion.
I also got to meet J----this week. J----- is an 81-year-old lady who Sister Boldrin and her trainer tracted into. She believes everything we teach, she just is so old and frail that she doesn’t want to get baptized. She also has Alzheimer’s. We go visit her once a week and help her clean her house. She goes on and on about how “precious” we are. Her gratefulness and love can’t help but make a person happy. All we did was vacuum and move a few things for her and by the way she thanked us, you would have thought we saved her life.
This week I have begun to love the mission. A lot of the time I don’t like it, but I do love it. I’m also learning the importance of losing myself. The times when I am happiest I’ve noticed, are when I’m focused on others. I’ve also grown to love and respect my companion, despite our huge differences. The week ended on an especially beautiful experience. Sister Boldrin and I were at the church early to speak with the Bishop before an amazing Book of Mormon class taught by a professor from BYU. We were just waiting for Bishop and we happened to look into the chapel. The 5 o’clock light streamed into the room through the white curtains, spilling onto the dark wood of the pulpit and illuminating the entire room. We took a moment and prayed together there, on our knees, in the early evening light. I couldn’t hold back the tears. It’s times like that, and feelings like that, that make me believe this is truly where the Lord wants me to be.
The church is true. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, just as Joseph Smith was. Jesus Christ truly did atone for all of our sins and weaknesses. God is so aware of each of us. You can know that for yourself, just ask him J . Everything will be okay. God loves us.
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