Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time and Study and Teaching

November 24, 2014

It's been a good week. We continue to face the normal, predictable problems of not being able to stay in very frequent contact with people. It's an annoying pattern. We'll have a really good lesson with someone, schedule a return appointment, and then for whatever reason they'll have to cancel, and then we won't be able to get another appointment.

But other than that problem, we've had a very good week. We were finally able to teach some people that we've been trying to teach for a long time. One was a family I met my very first day in the area. We finally sat down with the mom and briefly went over the Restoration with her. They aren't really interested in considering changing churches, but were interested in learning more so we'll probably go by there again soon. The other was a woman that the sisters have been trying to teach since before I got here. We've gone by plenty of times, and she's been reading the Book of Mormon a lot, but never had time to talk with us. We finally sat down with her and had a good discussion, hopefully we'll see her again tonight.

I think the most interesting lesson this week was one with a lady we met about a month ago. Our first visit with her was very interesting, and at some points was on the verge of being contentious, although neither of us meant for it to be that way, we were just having a hard time understanding each other. There were moments when the Spirit was in the first lesson, but for the most part I felt like we were debating rather than discussing the gospel. She asked us some questions that we didn't have very good answers for (where could we find Joseph Smith in the Bible and about Lehi's lineage), so we promised to research them and come back with better answers. When we went back, the feeling in the lesson was entirely different. The Spirit was there the whole time. Ideas that had been major stumbling blocks for her before we were now able to explain clearly. 

We had put a lot of time and study into her questions, and she really appreciated it. Her question about Joseph Smith I studied a lot. I knew that I wasn't going to find his name spelled out in the Bible, but there were some more subtle references I found. But the most valuable thing I learned from what I studied was how to better explain Joseph Smith's role to people. So many people down here think we worship Joseph Smith, and when we try to explain that it was through Joseph Smith that Christ brought back the truth, they either think we're saying that Joseph Smith had to finish Christ's work because Christ couldn't or that Joseph Smith introduced a different gospel than the one Christ taught. It really confuses them and puts them off. But as I studied for her lesson, I realized that we could explain that Joseph Smith had the same purpose as John the Baptist- John came before Jesus Christ to prepare the people to receive Him, and Joseph Smith did the same thing. Explaining it that way made the Restoration much clearer to her.
I think the difference in this lesson was that we had a mutual respect for each other, and she had really warmed up to the things we had shared with her, and we were more firm in what we believe. We were really bold with her, and instead of turning her off or offending her our boldness is what helped her to feel the Spirit. When we ended the lesson, she had committed to come to church in the next couple weeks and to read the Book of Mormon. I love how God can soften hearts, and how as people open their hearts the Spirit helps them to understand.

These next couple weeks are going to be really busy for us. We've got a lot of people to teach, as well as Thanksgiving. We're having two Thanksgivings, one on Wednesday and then the following day with Patty. We've gotten a couple other invitations to dinners, so we may go to a couple on Thursday.

I love y'all, thank you for all the letters and encouragement. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good Plans

I wish you could hear the thunder and the rain outside right now. The rain is pounding down and the thunder is booming. I think that's one of the things I'm going to miss most about the South, is the rainstorms. They make the ones in Utah seem pretty weak.

We have had a good week here, and it looks like we're going to be really busy this week as well. I'm glad, because it makes it easier to stay focused. Whenever we don't have a whole lot going on it makes it really easy to start thinking about how close December 10 is.  

We went on an exchange this week. Sister Earl came to Camden with me, and we had a lot of fun together. We had a lot of appointments, including teaching our Book of Mormon class. We had a good amount of people there and we got into a really good discussion. The topic was patience. After that we were able to see a part member family we taught a lot, but hadn't seen in a couple months. Since we've seen them the nonmember has finished the Book of Mormon. She loved it and wants us to start studying it more with her, so that she can understand it better.

One of the things that I've admired about all the missionaries I've served with who were about to end their missions was their determination to keep improving to the end. I've been trying to have that same attitude this transfer. And it's amazing how God is helping me to have opportunities to check my progress. And I'm seeing that I am still improving and there's still things I can work on. It reminds me of something Sister Titus said the last week of her mission, "We're never really done. And it's never too late to be the best missionary you can be." I love that the gospel is all about eternal progression and striving for perfection.

We also had a really good lesson with another part-member family this week. We taught them at his grandma's house, who is a very strong member of the church. We talked about who God is and our relationship with Him. Both of them said they feel like their relationship with God isn't as strong as they'd like it to be, so we committed them to pray together every day. I think they're starting to realize how much being a part of the church and living the gospel is going to help them, and help their family. We're seeing them tonight, and hopefully we'll help them get to the point where they'll be willing to come to church.

We're going to have Thanksgiving with one of our less active members. She didn't really have plans and we hadn't had anyone sign up for Thanksgiving yet, so we decided it would be fun to have Thanksgiving with her, and she's really excited about it. So we should have fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pretty Amazing Week

We've had a pretty amazing week. Tuesday evening we had an appointment with a part-member family. He is the member, but he's been less active for a long time. We showed up for our appointment, and as we were knocking on the door, they pulled up in their car. They had forgotten we were coming, and weren't in the best of moods, but they let us come in. We weren't sure how much time they'd give us, so we taught her the Restoration pretty quickly. We asked her if she had any questions, which she didn't, but then she asked him if he had anything he wanted to say. And then he really opened up, and told us all about why he wasn't active in the church, but that he still had a testimony. He said he knew what he needed to change, but for some reason he just hadn't yet. So we made plans to start teaching them at his grandma's house. We're still trying to pin down a date that works for everyone, but we're really excited to start teaching them. It was an amazing lesson. At first, the feeling in the house wasn't very peaceful, but then the Spirit came in, and it was amazing how quickly the feeling in the room transformed. They couldn't stop telling us how happy they were that we'd stopped by.

The other really amazing thing that happened this week happened on Sunday. We were sitting in Sunday school, which is right across the hall from the bishop's office. We saw a man come into the church, and heard him and bishop talking, then bishop pulled us out of class and introduced us to him. He's from Egypt, and he was looking for a church to start attending with his family. He stayed for the rest of church, and loved it. All the guys in the elders quorum were so excited to tell us about how much he'd liked the lesson. We're going to go over on Saturday morning and teach him. We've already had at least three people offer to come teach him with us. It's great to see the members of the ward so excited to get involved.

This Sunday was also really fun because the ward had a missionary come home, who served in the Dominican Republic. It was kind of interesting to be at a missionary homecoming a month before my own. The whole ward was so excited to have him back. He gave a good talk, although you could tell that he was kind of struggling to speak in English.

So, we're excited that we've had a little more success finding new people to teach this week. This next week is going to be pretty busy, with an exchange and a lot of other things going on.

We also had a ZTM this week, and it was a really good meeting. It was good to see some of the other missionaries in the zone, especially to talk with some of the other sisters who are going home with me. I'm starting to get a little sad at the thought of leaving. I'm excited to come home, but I'm not excited to leave my mission. I know these next few weeks are going to go by really fast. And since my travel itinerary came in the mail on Saturday, my departure is starting to feel more real. So, the last transfer is proving to be a bit of a roller coaster, but I kind of figured it would be. It's hard to avoid when I have a lot to look forward to, but also a lot I'm going to miss. I'm going to do my best to take Mom's advice and just treat this like any normal transfer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Transfer

October 27, 2014

So the transfer news is, no one is being transferred. Sister Torino and I are staying together till the end. We were both pretty surprised about that, since in the past Temple Square sisters have only been in an area for one transfer, but Sister Torino is really excited she's staying. And I'm glad I'll have more time with her as well. 

Although, this means that both of us will leave the area in December, so we're kind of feeling like they're going to close the area when we leave. Since so many sister missionaries are going home and not as many are coming out, they've already had to shut down a couple of areas. And we've both been getting the impression lately that we need to focus on getting our investigators and less active members friends in the ward, so they're not dependent on the missionaries. After the transfer news, those promptings make a little more sense. So that's what we're going to work on this transfer. 

It was a fun week. I had a really good birthday. We were on an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, so I went to Windsor Lake for a day. While I was gone the other sisters decorated our apartment with balloons and streamers. 

Your package also arrived that morning, along with Grandma and Grandpa Terry's, and the card from the Relief Society. I loved all the presents, and thanks for the cake ingredients, we'll be making it soon. I made a cheesecake for the first time and it actually turned out really well. We took it to Book of Mormon class that night and everyone enjoyed it. 

Other than that the week was pretty normal. We have a lot of people who are planning on coming to church next Sunday, so this week should be really good. It's going to be busy, which is always more fun. 

I'll be able to sign up for classes next week, which is pretty crazy, but I'm excited about it. Overall, I'm excited to come home. But I will definitely miss South Carolina. I love this place and I love these people, and I love being a missionary. I'm so glad I got this experience. This has been the best thing I've ever done. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, I love you all!