Monday, June 9, 2014

We Teach What We Are

Our Last Meeting With President and Sister Pitt

This week has been pretty intense. I feel like it's been ages since last Monday. A lot has gone on this week. Tuesday we had Specialized Training in Huntington, West Virginia. It was the last time I'll see President Pitt until I get home. It was emotional to say the least. It was actually a really intense meeting, for me at least. We talked about things that really hit home for me.

The meeting was centered around conversion---especially the conversion of the missionary. At least, that's what stood out to me. President said, "We teach what we are." We teach those principles that we live, and we can't bear testimony of those things that we don't live and that aren't part of our very being. We can say the words, but the Spirit can only bear witness of truth, and if we don't truly have a testimony of what we are teaching, then it won't be as effective. What we are essentially doing as missionaries, is reminding people who they are, and where they are going. We are reminding them that they are divine, that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them more than they can imagine, and that they are his literal children. They are made out of the stuff of eternity. They are divine. YOU are divine. We are divine. And I am divine. There's a quote that Sister Morgan gave to me, I can't remember who said it or anything exactly, but it talks about there being no such thing as a mere mortal. We have to remember that we are divine, and we have to be living in such a way that the divinity within us can shine through, because THAT is what will speak to people, not the words we say. I wish I had my notes on me so I could go into more detail of everything President taught, but it was beautiful, and it really spoke to me.

At the end of the meeting we all got in a big circle and had a last testimony meeting with President and Sister Pitt. We went around the circle and all bore a no longer than one minute testimony of the Savior. It was probably one of the most beautiful experiences of my mission. There was a senior couple there, and she talked about how she felt she was in the presence of angels with all of us missionaries. It didn't just feel like I was in the presence of angels though, I actually was. I wish you could have been there, because the feeling of love was so intense. Not only for one another, and not only of President and Sister Pitt for us, but you could literally feel God's love there that afternoon. To watch all these young men and women stand and proclaim that Christ lives, was SO powerful.

It was beautiful, as I sat across from President and Sister Pitt. They listened to each of us, hand in hand. You can feel how much they love each other, and even more, you can see it. It's been interesting, the closer President gets to the end of his mission, the more he talks about marriage. In his testimony he talked about how important our time here on our missions is. How it is one of the most important things we will ever do. But beyond that, he talked about how marrying the right person, at the right time, in the right place, is THE most important thing we will ever do. Family is central to God's plan. That line means so much more to me the more I learn. I'm also realizing how important it is that I'm here on my mission, and that I let it change me completely, because I can't go home and be the same dumb girl that I was. There are big decisions in my future, and I need to be the kind of girl that will make the right choice. Because consequences are real, and some are eternal.

Anyway, the meeting ended with the most beautiful prayer I have ever been part of. We all knelt together as President Pitt offered his final prayer with us. I've talked about this before, but when President prays, you know without a doubt that he is speaking with God, and he has never offered a prayer that I have been able to hold back my tears through. This prayer was no different. Everyone got to their knees and President began to pray. I knelt beside Sister Morgan, who has taught me more about love and kindness than anyone I've ever met, and Elder Bovee, my Zone Leader who is always looking out for us, and is always ready to be there for us if we ever need anything. I knelt with family. And it felt so good. President’s prayer felt more like a blessing. He called down blessings upon us from heaven. He asked that we would be changed by the time we spent here in the mission. He prayed that we would find that spouse, that right person, and that we would marry them at the right time, and in the right place. He blessed us with many other things, and expressed his love and gratitude so beautifully. As he closed, in the name of the Jesus Christ, and we all looked up, there was a silence, and a brief moment, that I knew with absolute certainty.... that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I'm so happy here in Pikeville. I'm so happy that I have this chance to be a missionary. I'm so happy to have this chance to find myself and become who I need to be. I'm so happy to be alive. I love y'all and miss you so much. Know that there are so many prayers from
Pikeville, Kentucky headed your way daily. I'm also so happy to hear you're reading the Book of Mormon together. SO happy. More happy than you can even know. I love you guys. With everything that I am.

Team Morgan and Lytle
M--------'s Graduation

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Little Rain and Roadkill

Welcome to the Bible Belt!

While y'all are baking in the dry Utah heat, It's summertime here in Eastern Kentucky as well. You can tell by the frizziness of my hair and how I have a faint feeling like I might be underwater every time I walk out the door. But I love it  :)  There's nowhere else in the world
I would rather be. I wished so dang hard for an area just like this to spend my summer, and here I am! Not only in the perfect area, but with the best companion I could ask for!

This week, we were running low on miles . . . so we walked. A ton. It made me realize what a spoiled missionary I am having not only a car, but a TRUCK! It was also REALLY rainy this week . . . we still walked. By the end of Tuesday we were jumping in puddles because our shoes were already soaked through anyway. We also made up a real fun game to keep us entertained while we walk. It's called "Name that Roadkill!" You have to guess what kind of animal is dead on the road, and if you get it wrong . . . you have to eat it. #WelcomeToTheWVCM

Since we've had to walk, we've done A TON of tracting this week. Two years ago I would have never guessed that I would be walking the streets of Pikeville, Kentucky and knocking on peoples’ doors telling them about the gospel, and the real weird part about it is . . . I
actually think it's pretty fun. But anyway, with all the tracting, we've found some pretty cool people! I know I shouldn't play favorites, but I do have a favorite person we met this week. His name is W------. He came out of his door to talk to us even before we knocked. We introduced the Book of Mormon to him and he was instantly captivated. We gave him a quick little restoration lesson and invited him to church and what not and invited him to read the Book of Mormon. His reply caught me off guard. He said, "Well, I don't read, but I have a buddy who will read it with me." The same feelings that hit me when I met the man at the food drive flooded back to me. As if I didn't already love W------- enough from his sweetness and gratitude, (he wouldn't stop thanking us for the Book of Mormon we gave him; I've never had anyone be that grateful) my love for the man deepened exponentially. I guess it just comes from the stories that people told me back home, people who had served in the WVCM, about having the chance to read the Book of Mormon with people who couldn't do it themselves, and from the stories of Sister Hunt from Ashland, telling about the man who taught her to truly love as she taught him and read to him the Book of Mormon. There's something about these humble Kentucky people that just.... they just get to me. Something about their soul, and my soul, something is the same, or maybe we just knew each other. I don't know exactly what it is, but I DO know that I'm supposed to be here with them, and that not only was I sent here for them, but they were sent here for me.

This week we also had a really great Zone Meeting in Paintsville, Kentucky. Our Zone Leaders, Elder Skidmore, from Idaho, and Elder Bowvie, from Kaysville, did a great job with that.

Saturday we finally got to see the W-------s family! It feels like a week without church or something when we don't get to see them for a week! The great news about that visit, is that J----- is now on date to be baptized on July 12th!!!! There's still an obstacle to overcome, but the ball is really rolling now! It's so exciting to see things falling into place! It just felt so good to see them this week. Their house feels in some ways like T---- and S----'s did in Lexington. You can't help but build family around you out here. People have such an incredible capacity to love. I've felt it so intensely on my mission. People are so good at loving, and we all have such an internal desire to love and be loved, and form those family bonds, whether blood
related or not.

The last cool thing that I wanted to mention, was the chance we had to go to M-------- S-----'s graduation. M------- was baptized in October last year, when I first got to the mission. We take her out to lessons with us a lot and she is such a light. I'm not sure I've talked much about her, but she's kind of a huge part of our lives here in Pikeville. She invited us to her graduation on Sunday, and we were able to go and support her. It was weird to sit in that graduation. I had weird flashbacks of my own graduation and it was so interesting to be in a graduation where I was on the other side of the stage. It kind of made me realize how old I am, and how far I've come. Elder Prince and Elder Quick also came to support her, and it was funny to stand next to Elder Prince, from Cardston, Canada, and realize that he doesn't know the Pledge of Allegiance, and have him be all confused when they play the pomp and circumstance song when the graduates walk in. 

It's been a great week, and I'm in such a great place. I love and miss you all to pieces.
Hiking in Paintsville with Elders Banta and Olson

Sister Morgan taught me how to bake bread!

We back each other up.  Literally.  Every time we back the truck.