Dear Mamacita and Papcito,
I'm really glad to hear that Don and Rose said they were excited to watch Conference! Sister Stewart's recent updates haven't been too heartening, so I've been worried about them. She said they still come to Sacrament, but they won't stay for the classes, and for a couple of weeks they kept cancelling their appointments. I hope they really did watch Conference. It was FABULOUS! We watched it at the Naperville Stake Center (because it's closer than Joliet which is actually our Stake...) and it was fun because a lot of other missionaries were there and Sister Charles from my last area brought the Woodridge Sisters and food for all of us :)
I did get the money from Grandma and Grandpa and I am very grateful for it. I plan on using the birthday money to get a few summer-y things in terms of clothes because I'm starting to realize that what I have is going to be too hot!
So, about this week: My dear sweet companion is named Sister Carlton. She is so awesome! I seriously LOVE her. We get along really well, and I keep forgetting that she's brand new because she's such an incredible missionary already. She's from a tiny town in Kansas called Larnad. She is number 8 of 9 in her family, and her dad died in a car wreck when she was 3. She graduated from BYU-I in early childhood special ed in December. She is super cute and tons of fun. It's great because she's so fresh from the MTC, and I'm still pretty new, so we are figuring things out together, and moving forward with some fun plans to get our wards ready to take the next step in doing missionary work. She has a lot of good ideas and is really excited about the work and the possibilities ahead of us, and it helps me remember my excitement when I first came out and to keep it up, rather than letting it dwindle with time.
We had an AWESOME first "official" lesson with Rick on Friday. We taught about the Restoration, and we were able to flow really well together in our teaching, and while sometimes he went off on a few digressions, we were able to bring it back to the Restoration. It's interesting, because we talk so much about "teaching people, not lessons" but then we also talk about how important it is to bring things back to the Restoration, so sometimes it's a tricky balance, but I think we did pretty good. Then he ended up bringing up on his own things that TOTALLY sounded like the Word of Wisdom, so we gave him a pamphlet for it, and told him to read D&C 89. Things worked perfectly into that because we had just given him a large print BoM, but they only make them in triple combination form, and literally at the last second before going in to meet with him, I decided to put some more pamphlets in my backpack, and Sister Carlton must have been inspired to hand me one for the Word of Wisdom. I love little miracles like that :) Then at the end, he gave the prayer, and it was one of the most sincerely searching prayers I have yet heard from an investigator. It was really powerful.
After Rick, we went to visit a woman named Jane, who loves us and says we are always welcome, but isn't exactly interested in changing religions. I think she totally knows it's true though, she just doesn't want to give up her Catholic traditions - even though she doesn't believe it all! People are funny like that... Anyway, I had been reading the Conference talk by Elder Cook from October, "The Songs They Could Not Sing" and kept thinking about her, because she has been through a lot of really difficult things in her life, and I wanted to give her a copy. We stopped by and ended up having a great lesson with her and invited her to watch Conference. She seemed really interested and I hope she did! She is a really sweet lady, and just fun. But she needs our prayers. She's one of those people that we WANT to visit regularly, but she's not officially investigating, so we can't just go over to hang out, but at the same time we're still always teaching her things about the gospel (oh yeah, and she's already read most of the Book of Mormon!) so I don't know quite what to do. But she's definitely someone we don't want to lose contact with.
The other woman we don't want to lose contact with, but aren't teaching - though again, we're always welcome - is Carla. From the second I met her, I loved her. Sister Sorensen and Sister Carlton were both the same way with her. She knows who God is, and has a great understanding of Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior, but she "cannot" accept the Book of Mormon. She thinks that she can just get her authority from the Bible and that it was never lost from the earth. Other than that though, she is spot on with pretty much everything else we have talked about. She and her husband are in Brazil for two weeks and they are going back to the place where he had his "spiritual awakening". We are praying that that site will continue to be sacred ground for them, and that somehow they will have another Spiritual awakening wherein they desire to read from the Book of Mormon to see if it is true.
And now back to Friday... After Jane, we stopped by a less active Sister in the same neighborhood, but she wasn't home. We had planned to just tract her street afterward before moving on to the area that was closer to where we would be having dinner. When she wasn't home, we walked back to the car to grab our tracting bags, but both ended up just getting in. I had this weird, uneasy, kind of creepy feeling and I didn't like it. I had worked in that neighborhood before (that's how we found Jane) and had even been on that street before and felt totally safe, but something was not right. I was trying to decide if I was just feeling like that because I didn't really want to tract right then, or if there was something else going on. I expressed to Sister Carlton that I was feeling kind of uneasy about the area, and she said she felt that way too, so we quickly started the car and left. We went to the area we had planned to work later in the day, and after listening to a couple of hymns, everything was better and the creepy feeling left. I had heard about missionaries feeling warned about certain areas before, but I had never experienced anything like that before, so it kind of freaked me out at first. I don't know what would have happened if we had stayed, but I'm glad that I don't have to find out. I am grateful that we were both in tune enough with the Spirit to recognize his warning and that we were able to remain safe and protected.
On a happier note, this morning we were studying the Christlike attributes section of PMG (Preach My Gospel) and our focus was on Hope. We had a really awesome study, and I encourage you all to study that chapter (Ch 6). As we read through the scriptures and talked about it, I came to realize the significant relationship between Hope and Eternal Life. The scriptures tell us that if we want to have eternal life, we HAVE to have hope. I had never realized that before! Hope in Jesus Christ and His Atonement is essential to obtaining eternal life. And as we talked about it, we came to the conclusion that hope in eternal life (that through the atonement and resurrection we can all obtain eternal life) is really the only thing there is to have hope IN. Everything else comes back that - to our Heavenly Father's Plan for us. I don't know if that is making any sense, but it was an epiphany for me. Eternal Life really is the greatest gift God can give us. And so it is in eternal life, through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we have hope.
Happy Birthday to Alan! I hope it was a fun day with all the Conference goodness imaginable!
Today we are going to dye Easter Eggs with the Woodridge Sisters using the dye Shar and the Girls sent me for my birthday :) I'm excited. Happy Easter on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Spring.
Love yous! (I told you the "yous" thing is a Chicago thing, right?)