Saturday, December 13, 2014

Please Can I Keep It?


We had a really, really incredible week. Last night we taught a family. . . and they want to get baptized! We invited them to be baptized and they said yes, we just don't have a date yet. The grandma recently had a really bad stroke and just got out of the hospital, so we can't really set a solid date until she’s doing a little better. It was sooo amazing though.

It honestly was a killer week. Things are picking up like crazy. It's actually been amazing, because I can see how my increased commitment has directly affected the work. It's not even so much that I'm doing that much better, because I still make a million mistakes every day, but I feel so much like my heart and desires are truly in the right place and because those things are in line, the atonement makes up for all my imperfections. I'm starting to understand the atonement so much more deeply. It's so beautiful. I never want to go home because I want to feel this kind of progression forever and ever. This mission is the best thing that has ever happened to me!

Our ward mission leader has a new baby donkey at his house!

Elder Signs and Sister Maddox

Elder Markowski 

The Elders gave me a hacky sack for my birthday

I really, really need one of these!
(Signs, Maddox, Me, Ramirez, Markowski

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"I Don't Think it's Just a Coincidence."


We were out tracting one afternoon because everything fell through and it was SOOOOOO cold. Like, we wanted to cry a little. We were knocking doors and no one was answering.  At the end of the hour we were walking back to our car, and we see this weird looking dude standing on a street corner with his hood up and honestly, he looked a little creepy to me. He seemed to be around his late 20's  and didn't seem to be paying attention to much of anything.

We decided to talk to him anyway, so we say hello and start walking over to him. He starts to say, “What are you pretty ladies doing out in the cold?" in a really low, kind of slow voice. In my head I'm like, "Oh great. This is going to be interesting." And then before we can start talking to him, a dude in a car pulls up and calls out to him and asks him if he knows where a certain street is, so we awkwardly wait while that conversation happens. Finally he turns
back to us. We're able to introduce ourselves and start to tell him what we're doing, but THEN a bus pulls up and a little girl jumps off and runs over to the guy we're talking to. She hugs him and he hugs her back and introduces her as his daughter. The little girl didn't let go, and kept holding on to her dad and looking up at us with big brown eyes. All of a sudden my heart softened and I began to see this man a little differently.

We started up a conversation with him and we get talking a little bit about the Book of Mormon. Sister Maddox had one in her hand and his eyes get a little glimmer in them as he looks at it and he asks, "Are you passing these out?" Big smiles come across all our faces as we give him the Book of Mormon. He proceeds to tell us how he's been recently trying to turn his life around and how he's back in school and working for a cement place and he now has custody of his little girl. He began to tell us more of his story and the way he was raised.  As he started talking, he covered his little girl's ears as he told us how his father was abusive and a drug addict and how he didn't want his daughter to grow up in a home like that. He uncovered her ears and hugged her a little closer.

Long story short, he wanted what we have, and he realized that. This next week we'll go back and teach him. It was a good lesson to me on not making judgments on first impressions. It was also just such a beautiful conversation. The spirit was there and you could feel it. He even said at the end, "I don't think it's just a coincidence that we met today." No C------, it wasn't. Because you and I are exactly where we need to be.

(Oh!!! Also, our atheist D------- has now not only decided that he's going to act as if God is real, but he finally understands that he really just needs to find out if the Book of Mormon is true and that will answer all the crazy little questions he always asks! He progresses really slowly, but it's so fun to watch!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Soft Hearts


My studies have been just incredible lately. Every morning we wake up and all of a sudden I look more forward to studies than running. That's crazy for me. I'm almost addicted to the gospel it feels like! I'm learning so many things and they're hitting me so deep. One thing I learned this week came from President Salisbury. We had interviews on Thursday and it was beautiful. My first questions to him were, "How is Sister Simmons, and how is Sister Snyder?" It took him a minute to realize, then he was like, "Oh! You were in the Morgantown trio!" He proceeded to tell me that he had totally forgotten about that. I cannot express to you how wonderful that was to hear. Like I have many times before with President Pitt, Through President Salisbury, I was able to learn more about the Lord. Just like President didn't remember those challenging times, I know without a doubt that the Lord remembers our mistakes no more when we repent.

We also had a wonderful conversation about courage, and finding our voice. As a missionary, we HAVE to open our mouths. It's our job. So we must find our voice. It's always bothered me, because I am in no way shape or form a bold person. President gave me some insight on this. He told me how almost every problem or trial we have to overcome and our ability to overcome it, comes down to the idea of whether we face it with a hard or soft heart. Fear is a hard-hearted feeling. We worry what others might think and turn inward. But he said, "Look what happens when we face a scary situation with a soft heart. Instead of being afraid to talk to someone on the street, we look at that person and we love them. Soft hearted people compliment and love. All of a sudden the fear is gone and we just want to love. And when we express true love, people will feel that love and they will not reject it." So when you look at your problems or your fears, look at your heart first, and ask if it is soft or hard. And if it's hard, soften it. We have the agency to make that decision ourselves.

We also had a conversation about loving versus lifting. We often want to lift others, but as we  attempt to lift, it has the tendency for others to feel that if they need to be lifted, they must be lower than us, then their dukes come up and no progress is made. But if we just love, then the magic can happen, and they are lifted in the process.

We also had a kind of cool moment with our atheist yesterday. He asked us if we did some sort of charity that was in no way connected to a church or religion in any way, if we would still feel the spirit. We were able to explain to him that, yes! Of course we would! I've learned more deeply on my mission that there is no separation between religion, and secular life. There is only truth, and not truth. The gospel is truth, and therefore I have made it part of my life. It's completely inseparable from me. It is in everything I do and feel and am. God is with me when I teach, he is with me in the chapel at church, he is with me when I run the streets of Proctorville in the early morning light, he's with me in the hills of Ohio and he was with me in Morgantown, and Pikeville, and Virginia. He was with me even when I didn't want him there. He has always been there. And he will never leave, because I am his child. He is with those I teach, and he loves them. I feel that so deeply. He's with our atheist when he doesn't believe in God, and he's with A------- when she feels alone. Mosiah 4:9 says, “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”

God is real. And he loves us. So much that he sent his son. They are both so real and so alive. And we can have a relationship with them if we put in the effort. Putting in that effort that will make all the difference. I am so happy here in the WVCM. Happier than I ever knew I could be. I stumbled upon my call letter the other day, and a promise that was made to me by prophetic authority. Something along the lines of "more happiness than you have ever before experienced" would await me as I served the Lord.

Well. It was true. This gospel is true.  It’s also true that I love y'all more than words can explain.

"Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong, 
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads."