This week has truly been a week of miracles!
Last week we had a woman named Brittaini call us. She told us that she was a member, but hasn't been active in over 10 years. She wants to come back and to raise her kids in the church and she wanted to know what she needed to do. We met with her on Tuesday and it was AMAZING. We started with a prayer, and she was crying by the end. She said she hadn't felt the Spirit that strong since she was learning about the church and joined when she was 12. It was pretty cool. She told us her story, which is basically that she's always known the church was true, but was looking for something that would be "easier" or that would let her break more rules. She got married to a Muslim man and for the sake of family unity, converted to Islam. And then she got really depressed. And I mean REALLY depressed. Finally one day, she realized that it was because she couldn't NOT accept Jesus as her Savior and as the Son of God. Once she started coming back to that realization, and decided that she wanted to come back to church, she started feeling better. And so a couple of weeks ago she looked up the closest church building on lds.org and saw that the 4th ward met on Tuesday evenings for mutual, so she figured she would show up at the church and see who she could talk to. When she got there though, no one was there. It was Spring Break and they had cancelled mutual. Just as she was about to leave though, someone pulled up. It was the Executive Secretary from the 4th ward. He was able to look up her address and see that she was in our ward, so he gave her our number and the Bishop's number. MIRACLES. So we met with her on Tuesday and then invited her to the "Walk with Christ" event that the 3rd ward (her ward) was doing on Friday night to celebrate Easter and she and her son came and LOVED it. Alec is 5 and he had never been to church or anything before. He had a really hard time in the Crucifixion room and got really sad, but then by the end when they showed Christ visiting the Americas and blessing all the children he got happy. Then as they were driving home he said, "Mom, I really love Heavenly Father and Jesus." I am so excited to be working with Brittaini and her sweet family! They ALL came to church on Sunday - even her husband - and they had a great time. The ward was so welcoming and loving. It was wonderful.
On Saturday, after tracting for a couple of hours, we had to use the bathroom, so we called the Matsens to see if we could stop in quickly and use theirs. On our way over, Sister Carlton suggested we share the Living Easter Card with them and see if they could think of anyone we should share it with, since the next day was Easter. We were able to share it with them, and then Sister Matsen suggested we visit an older lady in our ward named Agnes who has cancer and so is unable to come to church. Her husband is not a member, but Sister Matsen said he was really nice, so we should be okay to go over. When we got there, there were three men sitting in lawn chairs in front of the open garage door, just talking and drinking their beers. We asked for Agnes and they told us that she was currently in the hospital, and gave us her room number. Then we asked if we could share our Easter message with them, and they said that would be alright. So right there in the driveway, we pulled out our scriptures and hymn books and started to sing and read the Easter story. The neighbor across the street had been mowing his lawn, but he stopped and came over to listen as well. So here we are, two young girls, and these four old men, all drinking their beer, and listening to us sing about Easter. It was pretty cool. When we were done, the one man who had been very quiet the whole time, stood up and came over to us. He thanked us and reached out to shake my hand and then pulled me into a kind of hug (we didn't know what to do!), and then did the same to Sister Carlton. It was powerful to see this man so touched by the Spirit. We gave him a mormon.org card and told him he could find us on there. We are praying that sweet Dean will visit the website and request us to come back. If he doesn't soon, we are just going to tract his street until we find the right house! We know it's close. Then, Jesse, Agnes's husband, wanted to make sure we would go visit his wife and share our Easter message with her. That night after dinner, we went to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. Agnes was worse than we could have imagined. We found her room, and saw this tiny, fragile woman, clearly in a great deal of pain. We shared our message with her, and though in agony, she joined in singing with us as much as her frail condition would allow. Every so often, I would look up from my hymn book and scriptures, and I saw this light come into her eyes. She was still in pain, but she had joy and hope now. And as we finished our message, she smiled. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. Her smile told us what she could not say: that although she was in the deepest pain and agony, she had hope and faith that because of our Savior's Atonement, one day, her pain would end. And until that day, she knew that at least she wasn't alone in her suffering. My testimony of the Atonement and the Easter season was strengthened greatly by this dear sweet Sister's song and smile.
Rick is awesome. We went to his new house for our appointment on Friday and got the tour. Nothing is moved in yet, but in his daughter's room was one picture sitting against the wall. It was the "One hundred cats and a mouse" picture that we have hanging in our downstairs bathroom! I have never seen that picture anywhere else. It was really cool. But then, this picture became more than just a fun connection to home. As we went forward with our lesson, Rick told us that sometimes he feels like God speaks to him through dreams. We said that was perfectly plausible - and then he proceeded to explain: A couple of days before Sister Sorensen and I knocked on his door, he had a dream. Though unclear in the details, he somehow knew that I (me, Sister Hatch) would be coming to learn his story. So then we knocked on his door and our journey together began. When I recognized the picture, that was just one more sign that I really was the one he had been told would be coming. HOW CRAZY IS THAT??!? And by crazy I mean that in a good crazy way. It was really cool to hear that. Anyway, we had a good lesson with him. We invited him to the "Walk with Christ" and to church and he said he would try to make it to both, but he wasn't certain he would be able to come, but he would try. All the pipes started leaking in their house Friday night, so he couldn't come to the Walk with Christ, and then he wasn't at church on Sunday either. But then, as I was handing out flyers for a ward mission activity at the door after Sacrament meeting, someone told me that there was a man in the foyer looking for me. I peered around the corner, and there was Rick! He came to church!! He was just a little late and didn't want to interrupt the service. So he listened from the foyer and gave himself a little tour of the church and looked at all the pictures. Then he came to Sunday School with us and he went to Priesthood as well! We were super excited :)
So yep. It's been a pretty amazing week. There have been tons of other little miracles happening all this past week, but those are the big three.
On Sunday, I received probably the greatest compliment anyone can receive as a missionary. Elder and Sister Anderson are Stake missionaries for the Addiction recovery classes and such, and they are in the 3rd ward. I absolutely love them :) A few weeks ago, Sister Sorensen and I had dinner with them, and yesterday Sister Anderson told me that after we left Elder Anderson said to her, "I really wish we had someone for them. ... I would trust Sister Hatch with anyone. She is something special." I was blown away! I'm not sure what I have done to deserve that, but I am grateful for the gifts that Heavenly Father has given me to gain the trust of the members so fully. I must strive to keep that trust that they have in me, to teach their friends about the gospel.
I love you very very much!!