Monday, November 10, 2014

To Feel and See God's Love


So let me tell you about this week. Sometimes the mission is hard. You can go for days with every appointment falling through and end the week with no investigators at church. . . again. You can put your whole heart and soul into a lesson and somehow, it doesn't seem to matter. After a while it's hard not to feel worn down, and wonder how much longer, how much more you're going to have to give, for something to happen. And, sometimes, it's hard not to wonder why you're in the WVCM and not in Mexico, where every time a door is knocked here in West Virginia, ten people are baptized in Mexico. Sometimes it's hard, and not to say that there isn't something fabulous and beautiful and necessary in that hardship, but it's hard all the same. And it makes you wonder what's wrong, why you're not good enough, why these people can't see past the world to see the truth we have. And sometimes. . . God answers all your questions.

Sometimes, miracles happen. The first part of this week we weren't able to get a hold of A-------. We were worried that her less-active friend had anti'ed her and that she wasn't interested anymore or something bad like that had happened. Until Thursday. We texted A------- and invited her to lunch with us and a member in our ward, who goes to Marshall as well, named F------. She finally texts back and says she wants to come! So we're pumped and the next day we pick her and her roommate up and go to this sweet little cafe place called "The Black Sheep" right off of campus. The day was cold and gray. . . and so was A--------. She wasn't her bubbly usual self. It was kind of heartbreaking to go from the day she came to church, and her face, and our connection when she told us that we had to stay in Huntington and couldn't get transferred because "she needed us,"  to this closed off girl I barely even knew.

We got our food and her roommate, N-----,  was happy and conversational while A------- was much more quiet. After a bit, N----- had to leave, but A-------- stayed with us. When N---- left, A------- started asking a few more questions. She asked things about the nature of God and such, and then she asked something that caught us off guard. She looks at us and asks, "Do you all ever have. . . dreams?" We look at each other and we're like, "Well yeah, we have dreams." She proceeds to say, "Like, dream dreams. Or like visions sort of, you know?" We all kind of look at each other and sort of start to say no, but then she continues. She says, "I had this dream. I was talking to a woman who I admire very much and she's very educated and devoted to religion. I was telling her that I wished there was something as pure as Christ and his doctrine on earth today. And when I said that, she just says to me, "There is." And the dream ended.

For a moment, the music in the little restaurant was gone. All the people at the tables around us didn't exist. All I could feel was the spirit like a blanket over us. Chills ran up and down my spine. Yes A------! There is!!! Before we could really say anything, she continued, "I don't know if you all could tell, but I haven't been my usual self lately." She went on to tell us how things have been so hard recently. She's been struggling with depression and just felt so unlike herself. Her eyes got misty as she related her stories to us, and so did mine. My heart has never gone out to someone as mine did to her that day. I'm understanding more and more what Christ meant when he asked us to "mourn with those that mourn".

She told us how just as things got hard, she began getting texts and calls from Mormon missionaries. And she realized this wasn't a coincidence. She told us she felt like God really wanted her right now. Like he was calling to her. She told us she wanted to meet with us more, but she didn't want to impose herself upon us. We almost laughed as we told her that we would give anything to do that, that that was exactly what WE wanted. We bore testimony, we comforted her, we loved her, but really, we didn't do that much. We were just there. God did all the work. I wish you could have been there to feel the spirit that was there--to be a part of this miracle. To listen and see how much God loved this 18-year-old girl from Charleston, West Virginia. How he placed everyone so perfectly in order for her to be able to hear his word. To FEEL and SEE his love.

God loves A-------. And he loves me. And he loves you. And miracles happen. The whole time I felt a little like a missionary in one of those missionary stories. You know, the ones that General Authorities tell. The ones that never happen in YOUR life. I felt like miracles like this were too big to fit into my little life, but it turns out, that there are no miracles too big for ANYONE'S life. We're children of God, remember? Miracles happen. But you have to be at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. And I know that I am. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. A------- was meant to be part of my life, and I a part of hers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween Shenanigans

Pumpkin Carving District Meeting

We've had a great week! We had the ward Trunk or Treat, then this weekend was stake conference! I've been to this stake's stake conference every time they've had it since I was in Ashland! It was so fun to see everyone from Ashland and Pikeville! I was so happy!

Sister Boldrin and Scarff--Trunk or Treat

Elders Carter and Blakely

Elders Rowley and Ramirez

Missionaries?  Prophets?  General Authorities?  You Decide.

Huntington 1st Ward Missionary Family

Elders Steed and Signs

Monday, November 3, 2014

Teaching on a Mountaintop


Good news!!!! I am staying another transfer here in Proctorville with Sister Maddox! I'm dying of happiness! I could not have gotten any luckier! Except I did! Because both sets of Elders in my ward are also staying together!  We'll have Halloween and Thanksgiving together with our little Huntington missionary family! I'm so happy!

We taught a lesson on top of the mountain this week.  We were actually looking for a less active family. The address took us WAY the heck out to the county line and out into the sticks. I wish you could have driven with us. The day itself was beautiful, and it's fall, REALLY FALL out here now. I hate to break this to you, but y'all don't even know what fall is out there in Utah. The hills are on fire. The yellows and reds and oranges paint every hill you see. Even the air is on fire, with gorgeous yellow and red leaves swirling through it. The air is starting to get cold; the sweaters and jackets are coming out, and the smell. I don't know if it's the humidity or what, but smells here are deeper and richer... and maybe a little more alive. You can smell that it's fall everywhere you go. The air is heavy and chilly and everything smells like leaves and autumn. 

I can't help it, but it takes me back to Ashland a year ago. My heart and soul were in a very different place at this time a year ago, but my feet were walking the tri-state area just like I am now. I miss Ashland sometimes, the people, the good times, and really, I miss the hard times. I had never felt feelings so deep and real and intense as I did then, even when they hurt. There's something beautiful about FEELING. No matter if it's pain or joy. I guess it's all part of being alive, and on this beautiful earth. Opposition in all things you know?

Anyway, we drove out to this less-active member's home and knocked on their door as the sun set over the hills and made all the fall colors even that much richer. No one answered so we went to the house next door. It was down the road a bit, so we walked along the highway until I heard a familiar sound. I've heard it so many times. It was a deep smacking sort of sound, almost like a gunshot far away, but you could tell that it was close. 

The sound reminds me of my childhood, with the family in the back yard, and it reminds me of rendezvous, and all the time spent with Yance and those boys I love so much on the archery course. I immediately recognized it as an arrow connecting with a target. We walk a bit more and see a man shooting his compound. We wave and the man walks over to us. He's older, and his quiver is at his hip. I already fell in love with him before any of us opened our mouths. We talked to him first about his neighbors and then we got talking about who we were and what we did. As we began into the restoration, we could tell this man was very familiar with his bible, and that he was sincerely listening to what we were saying. The lesson flowed beautifully that evening as the sun set,  He asked perfect questions and the spirit gave us the answers. As we parted that day, I breathed in that Appalachian air and watched the sun go down while we walked away, and I had never felt so ALIVE. We would be going back. 

God knew what he was doing when he sent me here. I'm convinced I already knew these people, and I was specifically prepared to meet and love each one of them. My mission was planned years in advance, much before I even thought of going on one. And then, as if my heart could handle any more happiness, I had that thought, the one that comes so often on my mission---it came almost as if a whisper---and it said... "You're exactly where you're supposed to be."