Monday, March 17, 2014

This is Heaven

It's hard to know how to start this email after just reading that my beautiful sister is now engaged to one of the most incredible guys I've ever met. God has my back though, because today it's pretty snowy so the library was closed... so we had to come email at the church. That was definitely divine intervention because I would have felt so awkward crying as hard as I'm crying right now in the middle of the library!  Brynne and Jake, I just want to tell you how incredibly happy I am for you both. And welcome to the family Jake :)  This week has been incredible. Every week out here is. But this one has been especially incredible.

 I want you to imagine a cabin, way up on the top of a mountain. There is only one long dirt road that will take you there. The cabin faces the west, a big porch hanging over the side of the mountain facing the setting sun. The porch overlooks the most beautiful valley Virginia has to offer. I stood on that porch, looking over that view, as the sun set over my Virginia mountains this week. And I didn't stand there alone. I stood beside a young girl and her mother, who have searched--who came to Virginia searching--for a new life, a better life, and they found that within the gospel. I feel that I am them. I came to Virginia for the same reasons. Because I wanted something better, I wanted to be something better, and I wanted others to have something better as well. And I found something better. I'm still finding it. I know where to look now. That night standing on the porch, watching the sun set, breathing in the deep spring air of those Virginia mountains with people I have grown to love, those moments will be forever seared into my very soul. There's something about this place, about these experiences that I'm having out here. They are so exact. So deliberate. God has a plan for me, and I finally feel that I am living it, because I can feel it. I felt it that night so strong. I stood looking out at the valley, the quiet song of wind chimes set the tone of the sunset. I looked over to watch the chimes as they blew lightly in the spring breeze. Hanging from the middle, was a little metal circle, and cut into that circle. . . . . . . was a butterfly.
God has a plan. He is so aware of us.

We taught a great lesson to M---- and B---- that night. We have had to push M----'s baptismal date back to the 29th, but she is going to make it. She is so amazing. Watching people give up addictions like smoking, with nothing but faith, it's incredible. I don't know how you could ever think that this gospel wasn't true after watching someone use it to give up an addiction that they believe they so desperately need.

 This week we also had a Specialized Training where Lynchburg Zone and Buena Vista Zone (my home zone, although Sister Tripp and I cover Lynchburg as well) all came together for training.  President and Sister Pitt taught, as well as all the zone leaders, and of course, the Sister Training Leader companionship. It was a really great conference.  Everything was focused around the Book of Mormon, and the power of it. There is such power!  Sister Tripp and I have been using it like crazy lately, and I've gained such a testimony. Even just the book itself, without even opening the pages, has such power.
#TheChurchIsTrue  #TheBookIsBlue

Anyway, they did the teaching in rotations, so the Lynchburg Zone Leaders, the Buena Vista Zone Leaders, and  Sister Tripp and I each got put in a different room and we had to teach our 45-minute portion to a small group 4 different times. So I got to teach for 3 solid hours that day. Yay.  All I can say, is that a mission really stretches you. I think I'm the last person on earth that would want to be standing in front of people teaching, but of course, God with his sense of humor, had me doing that very thing for HOURS this week.

My favorite story from this week happened on Saturday. It was a
GORGEOUS day. It hit almost 70 degrees for the first time in months. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, either. We got a call while we were eating at M--- and R---'s (Our deaf investigator. They are having trouble progressing but we still see them a lot. I know how to say a lot of things in sign language now though, which is way sweet! Mostly words like “God” and “Jesus” and “Bible” and “Blessings” and stuff like that. I love them so much!) But anyway, we get a call from our District Leader, Elder Moffett, inviting us to come to a district service project down at a lady in our ward's ranch, Sister H----.

Let me give you a little background on Sister H----. She is INCREDIBLE. She has just been through a REALLY rough divorce. She does real estate and she had a company that she owned with her ex. Well, when they divorced, he took everything. And they had been REALLY well off. She worked her way from having nothing but her girls and her car, to now living on a multi-million dollar property.

Sister H---- gave Sister Tripp and me a little tour of her property,
including her house, the barn, the two guest cottages, and everything,
while the Elders worked on clearing out the stalls in her barn.  (That’s fair, right?) Sister H---- was excited to have sisters over finally because she lives in the Elder's area. First she took us all over to the barn to get the Elders started, and then she smiles at me and Sister Tripp and says, I have something I want to show ya'll. She turns around and climbs up a ladder that leads up to the loft of the barn. I follow behind her until we reach the loft. She keeps the grin on her face and beckons us over to a door on the wall. "Check this out" she said. As she opened that little loft door, it opened up to show the beautiful expanse of Glasgow Valley. I can't forget her smile as she said, "Isn't it gorgeous?" And it was. In fact, It was the most beautiful scene I had ever beheld. I stood there in that loft, with the voices and laughter of the Elders, who have come to be my family, drifting up from below.  The sun was shining over that valley, and I was in heaven.  This mission, and these good people I have been so blessed to know:  This is Heaven. 
Sister H----'s Property

We let the Elders stash a burrito in our fridge while we were gone,
and guess where our pillows ended up?

Fun times at the Food Pantry with B----

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