Monday, January 13, 2014

Mission Conference. Exclamation Point.


Oh gosh, I want to ski more than I can even tell you. I didn't even realize how much I loved the outdoors until I was basically cut off from it. Thank goodness I at least have Collierstown to look at. Things with the ward sound crazy! I can't believe I'll come home to a different bishop! But it's also weird... because I feel like my Lexington bishop is my real bishop now. It's crazy how much bishops do, working this closely with one has really opened my eyes. Gosh, they are amazing. 

It also makes me so happy to hear about you having the missionaries over. Sister S----- sounds insane. I would love to serve with her! And it probably is Blacksburg. Blacksburg is also where Virginia Tech is, and where Sister Reed is serving, so I got to serve that one day with her out there! I will probably get to spend another day with her later this month. 

Exciting news though, this weekend is a mission conference with the guy who gave to "Exclamation Point" talk in conference!!!! The WHOLE mission is getting together! I'm excited out of my mind! I'll get to see my MTC buddies that I haven't seen in almost 3 months now! 

So this week was transfers. Elder Jackson has been sent to Martin Kentucky, and the Zone leader, Elder Smith, was sent somewhere in West Virginia. Now Elder Moffet, Jaskson's old companion, is our new district leader! Yay! We haven't had one for a while. Transfers happened on Thursday of last week, and the transfer train leaves Lexington at 4:30 in the morning ,so Sister Pierson and I had to wake up at 4 and go see everyone off... then go back to bed. The new elders and sisters seem great and I'm excited to get to serve around new people. 

The day of transfers we went to visit a less active woman named M--- B----. She's basically the matriarch of this holler out in Collierstown that is full of less active families and part member families. She's 80-something and she can talk like nobody's business. I had never met her before, but as we drove there Sister Pierson warned me about how much she could talk. I was like, "She's just a harmless old lady, how bad can it be?" Well, the minute we got in the house, M---- B---- started talking, and we didn't get a word in edgewise until her grandson came over.... two hours later. Not only did she talk non-stop... but she has a REALLY thick Virginia accent, and when she gets going, she starts talking real fast and not really pronouncing any of her words.... and sometimes I would find myself staring at her wondering if she was even speaking English anymore. And, if I thought that was bad, when her grandson came over, (which was not only a tender mercy because it got her to stop talking, but we had been trying to meet him for quite a while and we finally got to! So hopefully we can start meeting with his family more now!) when they talked to each other, I could maybe understand half of what they were saying. #AccentsOfJustice #SouthernDrawlToTheMax 

The next morning we spent in correlation and after lunch, we planned to go visit H---- B----. We headed up to her house, past all the gorgeous fields and little rivers and when we got there and were getting out of the car, D------ , and C--------, the 19 -year- old daughter, came out of the house to get in their own car. So normally, I woud expect them to be like, "Oh hey, we were just on our way out to lunch, but we would love to have you come over another time", but I forgot, these are the B-----. I honestly have never met a family so warm and friendly. When you are in the presence of a B----, you are family. Instead, they say, "Hey, wanna come to lunch with us? We're going to Tong Dynasty  with D--------'s girlfriend and meeting our parents and uncle there." We took the opportunity to meet some more people and said of course! So we got to meet the girlfriend who lives in our area!  

Later that night we had a lesson with M---- and R---. Things have been getting weird with them. M--- is calling us multiple times a day asking us to do things for him... or calling for really no reason at all. This particular lesson was probably the worst lesson I have ever taught. Sister Pierson and I taught well enough, but the spirit was not there at all. We would be teaching about Christ, and M---- would bring up some random comment about his uncle's birthday or something ridiculous like that, and I was honestly pretty mad. I think Sister Pierson and I have known for a while that M---- and R---- were in this for the wrong reasons, but we love them, and we wanted them to accept the gospel so badly that we tried to overlook it. This time... it became pretty obvious to us that we couldn't keep teaching them until they are ready. We are called to teach those who are ready to accept the gospel, not force it upon people who don't have their hearts in the right place. So... we'll keep seeing them occasionally, but we lost them as investigators this week. Dropping investigators is probably the worst part of mission life, and afterward Sister Pierson and I were a little down. We tried visiting a few people and no one was answering, so we decided to visit D-- S-------, a recently re-activated member. I I'm not sure I've talked much about her, but she is the most positive, spiritual person I might have ever met. We have decided to start teaching the members the missionary discussions because we are having a super hard time finding people to teach, so that will not only give us opportunities to teach, but it will strengthen the members, and we're going to challenge them to find someone to invite to the weekly church tour or take the missionary discussions after we teach them to the members themselves, so they will be more comfortable with inviting people to take them---if that makes sense. So anyway, we ask her if we can teach the restoration and she's all over that, so we go ahead and teach it right then and there. That lesson, is possibly the best I have taught on my mission. As I recited the first vision, in Joseph Smith's own words, I KNEW that it really happened. I really wasn't teaching D-- at all... the spirit was teaching me. In that little apartment, on a bitter cold Virginia night, I taught myself the restoration, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that it really happened, and that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, and he restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth. The missionary lessons are powerful, I would encourage everyone to study them, because they've changed my life, and the way I look at the gospel.

It's so funny, how things fall apart, so better things can fall together. D-- was a back-up plan; we originally had no intention of visiting her. Our day went from teaching one of the worst lessons of my entire mission, to one of the best. If we do what we're supposed to, and live the way God wants us to, adversities might come, but they will be countered by blessings so huge we won't even know what to do with them. The smiles we left Deb's house with that night were the kind of of smiles that go right down to your soul, and the bitter night didn't seem quite so cold. 

The next day.... we visited a lot of black people. We visited L---- C----, who has invited us to sing at her Methodist church one of these next weeks! I'm scared out of my mind, but super excited! I sorta wish the word wouldn't have gotten out that Sister Pierson is such a good singer... and I'm her companion who will let myself be dragged along into singing at things. We also got to teach a lesson to a former investigator named M-------. We knocked on her door, and as soon as Sister Pierson had barely taken her hand away from the door.... M------ answered with a fork in her hand, screaming, ready to stab us!!!!! As soon as she realized it was us... she put her hand on her chest and covered her face with her other and said, "Oh lordy, I thought you was gonna sneak into mah house or something " She takes a few deep breaths... "Oh child, you 'bout scared me to death!" Sister Pierson and I were about on the ground laughing. We got to teach her a really awesome lesson and pick her up as an investigator.... and it sounds like she is going to come to church soon! 

That night we got to go visit our family… T----- and S---- :) Aw, what can I say about that visit..... every time we go over there I feel like I'm going home. They are so good to us, and we joke and laugh together like we're family. I even hesitate to say "like we're family." because we ARE family now. We know everything that is going on in their life, they know everything about us, and if we were ever to need anything, or even just needed someone to talk to, we would know exactly who to go to now that we know the H---------'s. 

The next day we woke up and went to ward council. There was a little freezing rain on our car to scrape off, and there was a little drizzle of rain as we drove. When we got to ward council, one of the counselors got a call from someone who said they had just slipped off the road as they were driving. So... they decided to cancel church. Now I say this in the most loving way possible.... Virginians are soooooo wimpy!!!!! We went back outside to drive home... and it was raining even less than it was when we had driven to the church. The bishop told us not to drive if we didn't have to that day... so we were stuck in our apartment until about 3 that afternoon, fasting. It was rough.

But when we got to go out finally.... we made up for it by getting to see my favorite less-active man T----! He gave us more sausage and also some deer steak! I've been eating that sausage like crazy. IT IS SO GOOD!!!! And, more than that, I think it just makes me feel at home. When we got there, after driving through the mud and up the mountain, we got to sit and chat with him and his wife. We sat there in that little cabin, with his dog on my lap, drinking the Pepsi he had offered us (I drink soda now haha. #YouDoWhatYouGottaDo,) sitting next to the fire, looking out on the misty valley..... for the first time, I thought, "I want to stay here forever." 


This is what happens when the elders steal your camera.

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