We had the very first sisters conference this mission has ever seen. The first one! And I was part of it! It was so cool, and President Pitt LOVES the sisters. So much. It was interesting, because apparently there is a lot of uproar about women not having the preisthood right now and President was talking about how if women had the priesthood, it would inhibit our divine nature. President talked about how women just have this inherent "something" about us. He talked about how we were God's last and greatest creation. God began creating the simplest things, and ended on his most complex and greatest creation. He also talked about how incredibly imporatnt we are as part of this missionary force, and the hastening of the work. Sisters are changing the mission world. We really are. The age change, and the influx of sister missionaries is for a reason. Just this Sunday we had a new convert fireside and convert after convert talked about the influence of sisters. Espesicially one man, who had investigated for about 7 years, and didn't convert until he got sister missionaries. God has such a plan. I just see it everywhere out here. It's so exciting and beautiful. So the sisters meeting was amazing, and President Pitt just loves us so much. After the meeting was over, President called me out of the crowd and had a private interview with me, just like he did at the zone meeting. He didn't do it with everyone. Just me and one other girl had a chance to talk with him after. He took me into a little side room in the church and we started with a kneeling prayer, as we always do. Then, as we finished and both sat down, he looked at me and said, "I don't know why I have such a love for you Sister Lytle, but I do. How are you doing?"
I cried. I cannot keep my composure when I am in the presence of that man. I want to testify to you again that he is called of God. When I'm in his presence I feel a love so deep and real that the only way I can describe it is it must be what it feels like to be in the presence of the Savior. And, he really does have a special love for me. It probably has more to do with his connection to T------- and Bountiful than anything---he always mentions those things when we have a chance to talk, but he really does have a special love for me. I can't express how much I love him back. I hope he is part of my life for a very long time to come.
So the sisters conference was in Roanoke, and we drove the Buena Vista Sisters with us when we went. They serve in Buena Vista (people here pronounce it B-eww-nuh Vista and if you say it like in "Buenaventura" they freak out!) which is where SVU is, the LDS college. After the conference we got to go to a mall in Roanoke with them because they needed winter clothes. THEN, after that, I got to go on an exchange and stay in Buena Vista for the night with Sister Wines. It was way fun and they have one of the nicest apartments in the mission! In the morning we tried to visit some people so I got to walk all over campus and even go in the library. So fun! I would love to serve there!
This week was also my birthday. Everyone was soooo good to me! The zone leaders made me a cake and all the elders in our district texted me happy birthday and the Lexington North elders brought me treats too! One of the treats they brought was nerds.... because they lovingly call us "sisnerds" instead of sisters. We also got to go out to lunch with them because it was my birthday and we went to this super adorable little bakery in downtown Lexington! It was soooo cute and I got a super yummy waffle! Oh! And that morning Sister Pierson made me pancakes!! I love her! I can't beleive I'm 20 though. So old!
This week was also THANKSGIVING!!! I really haven't felt homesick at all for the past few weeks, especially here in Lexington, but Thanksgiving kinda got to me. I missed Grandma's house and Mom's sweet potatoes. I do have a new family here, but there's something different about people who are your blood kin. I miss you guys, and love you more than I can even express. The longer I'm out here the more I realize how family is everything. And you are. You are my everything. Thank you so much for your support and love and for never giving up on me. You're the reason I'm here. Especially you Mom and Dad. Anyway, I ate more on Thanksgiving than I ever have in my entire life. I'm still full! We had a lunch with a woman who is less active at her apartment, and then a huge dinner with a single sister and her daughters. Pie and everything was served at both these meals, then that night, the Bishop had us come over to eat EVEN MORE pie! We honestly thought we were going to die, but it was good, and we definitely felt very loved. Also that morming we got to play football with the ward on the campus of Washinton and Lee, the other college besides VMI that's in Lexington. It's apparently a really good law school, and it's so beautiful with gorgeous old buildings. All the missionaries from all around came to that football game and it was SO much fun. Even though I got a little homesick, Thanksgiving out here was one of the most amazing holidays of my life.
Also.... Let me tell you about T----- and S----. They're getting baptized next week!!!!!!!!!!!!! They already had a baptisimal date when I got here, but I am so excited to be here to actually see them be baptized. They are such an amazing couple, every time we go over to teach them, it's basically them teaching us. T------ is from Germany, and she was kidnapped to the US by her stepfather, and had a horrendous childhood. Her first marrige was very abusive, but she finally did get out of it (her ex went to prison) and found S-----. S----- is my hero. He's a very handsome middle aged man, and he works construction. He's done almost everything in their house himself, and their home is absolutely gorgeous. It's out in Collierstown and it's basically our second home now. We were there teaching them Saturday night and T---- brings out this beautiful plate of those waffle kind of cookies that Nikki used to make and hot chocolate in beautiful little teacups with saucers. I just want to live with them!!!!!! They also have had horses in the past and they are just the best. Their conversion story is just as amazing as they themselves are. T---- has cancer. She went through treatments a while ago and it was mostly gone, but one day when they did tests it was in her lymph nodes. If the cancer she had was in her lymph nodes.... she had a zero percent chance of living. They were positive it was there, so they planned to have her go into surgery for it. The day before, she had an LDS friend who offered that her husband and the bishop give T---- a blessing before she went in for surgery. She gladly accepted and they gave her one. She said it was one of the most powerful experiences of her life and when she went into surgery, she just had this overwhelming feeling that whatever happened, it would all be alright, which she had never felt before. As if that wasn't enough, when they opened her up.... they found no cancer. At all. The doctors were astounded and couldn't explain it. To make a long story short, both T---- and S---- then knew that this was the true church, and that priesthood power was power from God. Before they ever opened the Book of Mormon they had a testimony of it. It's really cool too because T----- has a lot of time to read because she is still recovering from the round of chemo she just had to go through and she has read almost everything you could read about the church! She teaches us! And they are just so loving to us every time we're there. They've invited us over for dinner, and also T---- invited us over later this week to learn how to make those yummy cookies! I can't express to you the love I have for these people. I can't beleive that I get to be part of their conversion. I feel lucky beyond words. People have it so wrong, missionaries don't save investigators lives, investigators save missionaries lives.
I just wanted to end with my testimony, and my testimony is of Christ. Before I came out here I was so focused on all the little doctrines of the church, especially the little rules that I didn't want to follow, so much that I lost what it is really all about. This is CHRIST'S church. He is at the head. And we owe our lives to him. I am not my own. The price of my life has been paid by my brother, and because of him, I can be clean. I can change. I don't have to stay the silly girl I am. I can grow. I can become better, and I can make mistakes, because my brother has atoned for my sins. I would encourage all of you to look up the Bible videos on lds. org. They are AMAZING. And for me, they help me understand Christ so much better. He IS real. And he LIVES. He is not just some man we read of in the Bible. He is Jesus the Christ. And the atonement is real. It really happened. I know that because I've used it, and it has changed my life. I have seen others use it now, and I have seen their lives change as well. Jesus truly does love you. Draw close to him and you will feel that. I promise you that.