Today I have so much good news to share! It was an awesome week and I am just so grateful for everything.
This week we stayed in Worland all week long, and we were able to have some wonderful lessons. Sister Smith hasn't been feeling too great, but she pushes through pain, so we still did many things, with some naps in between.
On Monday, we taught a young girl (12) named Tamara. Her step-mom and step-siblings are members, and she is living with them for a few weeks, and she wants to take the lessons. She is SO shy, but she has the sweetest Spirit. You can just feel it from her. I love her so much. She loves reading and always reads more than we give her to read! She says she feels calm when we are there and good when she reads the Book of Mormon. She wants to wait for a while to get baptized, but we hope that will change as she continues to read the Book of Mormon, come to church, and pray.
We had a lesson on Tuesday with a lady we call Grandma. Haha. We even asked her if we could call her Sister Draper, and she said no. She wants to be called Grandma. So it is :) She is reluctant to change- she says she is stubborn and 74 years old- but that means nothing to the Lord, so we invited her to take the lessons anyways. Her daughter is a member. So when we came over for her first lesson, the apartment was crowded and noisy and busy. There were lots of people there and someone yelling outside, but we asked if we could pray, and it got quiet and stayed that way the whole lesson. There was even a man there who says he has been tossing the idea of joining the church and wants to learn more! Grandma says she will consider being baptized and we are meeting again with them on Thursday.
There is this family- the C family- who I love! The dad totally wants to change his life around and join the church, but he is SO busy with work that it's really hard to get things going. Every time we meet with their family, though, the Spirit is so strong, and this week was no exception. The wife, who is less-active, said a beautiful prayer. She has been pretty bitter and sarcastic in previous lessons, but when she feels the Spirit she becomes soft and kind. It's amazing to watch the change in her. The dad and one of the daughters want to be baptized, and we are praying that we will be able to meet with them and help them get there. Oh, I just love them. I feel like I've known them for years.
Tom Milburn. You might remember me talking about him last week or something, but we met him a little more than two weeks ago, and he got baptized last night! He is a salesman from Texas with the most awesome Texas drawl. He grew up Southern Baptist, but when he experienced some things that contradicted what he had been taught, he decided maybe he should start listenin,' as his wife told him to. He says, he has started listening, and he has felt the Spirit as he has read the Book of Mormon,m come to church, and learned. He is sixty eight, but says he is now listening, and God has spoken to him. It's amazing! It's been two weeks, and he has changed. He will be the first to admit he has much more to learn, but he bore his testimony at his baptism yesterday and said he read the "book", it's true, and he feels good about everything.
He has so much faith! I have LOVED teaching him. He talks and talks, and I've prayed in so much gratitude for the Lord helping me teach him, because I had to interrupt him a lot, and I don't like doing that, haha. He is so appreciative of us teaching him, and we are SO appreciative of him! He has taught me how much the Lord can do when we open our hearts to Him and listen.
The night before Tom's baptism, we went with him and some members to Thermopolis for Art's baptism! Remember him? The one we met that one night tracting, and he cried because he was just so happy! Well, he got baptized Saturday night, and that was a really special experience. We went over to the font for him to be baptized, and as he entered the water, he was crying with his hands in the air saying, "Thank you Lord...Thank you Jesus," over and over. After he came up out of the water, he did the same. He was just SO grateful to God for washing him from his sins. I felt the Spirit so strong as I watched him cry in gratitude for the gift of being baptized. It made me think how often I take things for granted. It made me think about the ten lepers and the one who returned and thanked Christ for healing him. I always thought that was crazy and that I would never do that, but then I got thinking about the blessings I receive that I don't thank the Lord for- I just expect- like the Sacrament. Every week, I am being baptized in a sense, when I partake of the Sacrament. How much do I thank my Lord that I have been washed clean once again each week.
Art got up to bear his testimony and started getting really excited and raising his hands and pacing and everything, so he said, "Now, I better sit down before I start preachin' to ya'll!" Hahahaha. He is so awesome. He really loves the Lord. He talked to Tom and then came yesterday to Tom's baptism! I'll attach a picture. It was awesome!
It was an eventful week. It was filled with lots of opposition, but many blessings. Sister Smith was sick for a lot of it, and stress built up as we ran out of time for most everything. But, the opposition was followed with SO much peace. For example, yesterday we were running late and nothing seemed to be working out as planned and we finally got to the baptism, flustered, but then the baptism was FILLED with members from the ward, Tom was happy as could be, the music was beautiful, and the Spirit was strong. Sister Smith and I were just SO HAPPY. I mean, you just need to meet Art and Tom, and you will realize you just can't NOT be happy around them. Anyways, this opposition and blessings thing has got me pondering about some things. When Adam and Eve were cast from the garden, they experienced sadness and trials now, but, with that, they could now experience the joys of life. Without the opposition, they wouldn't know what true joy felt like. It would pretty much be neutral all the time. Boring. There is opposition in all things. Life isn't supposed to be neutral. I'm grateful for the hard times because they help me really feel the joyful times!
One last thought. Today we are in Riverton. As we were driving this morning the hour and a half drive, it was SO beautiful. As I watched the beautiful mountains, plains, canyons, and rivers pass by, I was just so grateful. We were listening to some songs, and one of them has the line, "God loves Broken things." I changed it to "God loves beautiful things." He created the beautiful land, the clouds reflecting on the mountains, the water, the people...I have seen how when the gospel enters someone's life they become more beautiful- to themselves and to others. God fills them with light and joy. God loves making things beautiful. Change is beautiful. I'm not explaining myself as clearly as I'd like, but I am grateful for the beauty that God creates around and in us.
I love this gospel. May we all share the gospel the best we can and rely on the Lord for help.
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth slavation; that saith unto Zion, They God reigneth."
Wow, this week and day have flown by! And I have five minutes :) To tell you about this week in five minutes would be impossible, but I can tell you a few things in that amount of time.
First of all, ironically enough, I learned a huge lesson on taking life slower so I can feel the Spirit more. As Elder Packer said, the Spirit caresses so gently that if we are preocuppied we will not feel Him at all. I can testify of that. The past four weeks have gotten the best of me, and I read a talk that changed things for me. I don't have it with me, but it was called Opening Our Hearts to Revelation in the August 2013 Ensign. Anyways, I have a testimony that the words of the Prophet and His Apostles and leaders of the church are of God. I know that Heavenly Father wants us to rest as needed and that when we do, we can feel alive and able to do His work as He wishes us to.
This week, though, has been one of miracles. We are teaching this one man who is hilarious and so awesome. He is a salesman here for the summer and a friend of a ward members'. He wants to learn about the gospel and be baptized, and he has committed to be baptized next Monday! He talks talks talks talk talks and talks, and Sister Hixson listens listens listens and listens, while Sister Smith tries to talk tries to talk and helps me learn that if we are going to teach him we must interupt him. Haha. He loves it though! I am learning to adjust my teaching skills to different people. This man is humble and open. I can see how when we are humble, we can feel the Spirit. When we are willing to submit to the will of the Lord, He can show us truth. I am so excited for our new friend. His name is Tom, by the way.
I know the Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Christ, and it supports the Bible. If anyone wants to know that for themselves, they can read it, pray about it sincerely, and listen. This is something I have had to do a few times on my mission to, again, receive a confirmation of its truth.
I love you all. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support! :)
Right now we are at the church with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing while we write, and it's the best. I love music. I've come to love it more and more on my mission. We were in a lesson about a week ago with Bro. Wilde and his friend, and Bro. Wilde asked if we would sing a Primary song for his friend. We did, and the Spirit was so strong. It was Faith, p. 96. The words were perfect for what we were talking about. I realized again just how inspired music really is- the right kind of music :)
It was a great experience to be on exchanges this week. I had a really cool experience with Sister Bain. We had finished our exchange and headed to Thermopolis where Sister Smith would come pick me up. The Elders who drove us had a meeting in the church, so we had about thirty minutes until S. Smith came. They said we could go try a less-active who lived nearby. Well, he wasn't home so we started tracting. We had knocked a couple houses, and S. Bain said she kind of felt like we should go try this one brick house she had seen a couple streets away. We went there and knocked on the door, and this old lady lives there. She couldn't see really well, so she looked really closely at our name tags as we told her who we are. She then got so excited! She let us in and just was SO happy to see us. Then this man walks up the stairs, and says, "Hey! I'm ready to be baptized!" Then he runs downstairs. Hahaha, we are kind of confused....Then, we took a seat and he walks up with a Bible and a Book of Mormon and tells us he has been taking the lessons for three months in Sacramento, CA from the sisters there and just moved here and is ready to be baptized and is attending our church this weekend and it starts at 9 and he can't wait! Haha. It was awesome, and he is black and hilarious, so it was even better. As we talked with the lady, he kept accidentally interrupting and then saying, "Oh, I'll stop talking...I'm sorry." He was just so excited. He quoted scriptures and said, "I don't mean to brag, but yes, I have all those pamphlets you are showing me right now." Hahaha. So we called the Elders who came by and met him, and apparently he came to church and is doing so well! I just wish you all knew him. His name is Artis Hamilton. It was so fun, and it was so inspired of S. Bain. She wasn't sure if it was a prompting, but it was! Often we don't see results quite like that when we follow promptings, but that does not mean it wasn't a prompting. I'm so glad she followed it, and we were able to meet him. After we had talked with him for a few minutes and we told him the Elders were just up the street and we could call them and they could come meet him real quick, he didn't say anything. I repeated myself, and he still was silent. Then he said, "I'm speechless." Hahaha, he was just so happy! I'm glad we could make his day and very glad for the prompting that led us there.
This week, because of the traveling, I had the opportunity to drive through some beautiful parts of Wyoming. It is flat in some parts, but canyon-y in others, with rivers and little hills, and trees and rocks. As we drove, I was just so grateful to be here. I was so grateful for the world God created and I felt very small (extra small, if you can believe it! ;) as I drove through it all. He gives us all this and more just in this life alone. Imagine what else He has in store for us as we try to follow Him. My mom wrote me this week and quoted Mosiah 2:23-24.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
I do feel this way. I am just so grateful God let me have the gospel and is patient with me as I try to serve Him faithfully. No matter what happens, I know I can pray to Him and He will help me. I love this gospel, and I know it is true.
Sorry about last week. We were in Billings and we found out at 4:58 that the library closed at 5, so I had no time to write you all. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. If it continues like this, it's going to fly by! We have been out of town a lot, and we are going out of town again this week- just to Riverton and Thermopolis for a meeting and some exchanges.
Worland is awesome. It is small, pretty, and there are lots of fields and badlands (there is even a Zebra donkey we named Debra :) The ward is nice, and there is tons of work to be done! I'm excited :) Sister Smith is also awesome! She is a southern CA girl as well and she loves to work and have fun! I love her. She is teaching me a lot, and she is a great example.
This week we had a few awesome lessons! We taught this guy who has completely changed around his life, and his wife is not active in the church right now, but they both want to be. He wants to be baptized and is reading the Book of Mormon. He is honest and kind. I love seeing people change their lives around and want to be better. That's when Christ can really help them even more.
We had some other great lessons too, and basically are just figuring out what we can do in this area. We want the members to be more involved. We had a mission tour this week with Elder Godoy, a member of the Seventy. He taught us a lot and was so funny as he did it! I loved it. One thing that stood out to me is that we need to leave room for the Spirit in our plans. As missionaries, we have set plans for every hour of every day. He said, leave room for the Spirit. It makes me think of a quote by Elder Uchtdorf: "Strength comes not from frantic activity, but by being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light." As we go about our busy days, we need to listen to the Spirit and remember those things that are truly important. I mean, I'm on a mission where I don't have the distractions that most of the world does, but I still need to remember to pause and remember what's important every day. In daily life, not on a mission, I'm sure it is the same.
I love this gospel. I love sharing it because I know it makes people happy. I know it brings us all closer to Christ.
""...faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true."