It appears to me that you had quite a time in California. Thanks for all the pictures:) I loved them!
We went on exchange this week to Dobson. It is a dream land. It reminded me of Cherokee minus the mountains. It's Sister Jameson's last area and it was the best. They have such wonderful sisters there and it was so good. I'll have to send you pictures because it's beautiful. A crazy thing happened on exchange..a few days ago the sisters there were knocking on doors and came in contact with a woman who wasn't very interested but said she knew a lot of Mormons because she used to live in Boise. The conversation didn't go much further because she wasn't into it. While we were there on exchange they got a referral for a lady named Wendy so we called the number that came in with the referral. I called a lady named Angie who knew Wendy and had recently sent her a "care package" full of Ensigns, The Living Christ, The Proclamation to the World, The Book of Mormon and all that good stuff. She gave us some advice on how to approach her friend and then we went. Turns out this Wendy lady was the same lady that the sisters had talked with just the week before. We went and knocked on her door and because we were running late, we chatted for just a minute and set up a time to come back. She was willing to meet again and it was incredible to just watch the Spirit work with her right in that moment. She knew she needed it and she submitted to the will of the Lord. You could see it in her face. It was incredible.
We're breaking ground with my dear Clyburn family. Tawanya's brother, Dequon came to church again yesterday. He's 15. I caught myself treating him how I treat Harrison. He has told us 2943 times he doesn't want to meet with us but then we invite him to church, and he comes. Yesterday before sacrament meeting started I went and sat by him and started hitting him with questions and asking him why he keeps coming to church. He's stubborn as all 15 males are and wouldn't talk but I gave it to him. I pretty much told him I knew he was at church because deep down he knows it's where God wants him and he knows it's right and that it's true. He just sat there and smiled. I wanted to slug him, but that's not what Jesus would do so I decided to change the subject and just teach him about prophets. But we've been having some good experiences with him this week and building a really good relationship with his mom. Tawanya is already on our team. She's become our best friend the last few weeks. She's a killer good time.
Remember the cute little girls I sent pictures of who were doing my hair? We're teaching their family right now...their mom is a returning member and the oldest boy is too. Anna, her daughter is getting baptized on the 19th! We're really excited about it. They're a cute family.
This is all my heart has to offer. I hope y'all are recovering nicely from your trip:) I'm jealous but I know our future holds p-lenty of Disneyland trips in the year 2014.
I love being a missionary! There is no greater time than that spent as a full time missionary. I know that is true! Thank you for all the love and support. I love y'all more than you'll ever know.
This isn't going to be long...I want to catch y'all up on pictures.
It's been a great week.
I went on exchange this week to a place called Shelby. It took my brain back to the Appalachians. It was wonderful. I have come to love love love the city but it was so fun to drive around in the country again.
We had interviews with President this week and it was so great.We also got invited to help with training at the Trainers/Trainee meeting this week. It was incredible! I don't think I'll ever get sick of being in meetings with President and Sister Craven. I love being around them all the time!
Funny story. The other day we were outside the mall food court having a lesson with a less active member in the ward...this girl at the table over was totally eavesdropping and I kept making awkward eye contact when she would look over at us...when she got up to leave she came over and said something about how she overheard our conversation and she handed us a napkin invite to Elevation Church (this bidnizz is big around here. all the teenagers and young adults eat it up. someone said you can youtube it) but the special this week was on "i don't know what I believe" and she made a point to tell us that. She walked away and this member we were teaching just said, wow. and went on to tell us how she had been to that church before and how "insane" it was. The woman thought she was saving our souls, bless her heart.
Miracle story: Yesterday at church, I walked into gospel principles and one of our ward members who is a ward missionary was sitting next to a girl I didn't recognize so I went and sat by them. Sister Carter introduced us briefly before the class started and all I knew about this girl was that she wasn't a member and that she didn't know anyone in the ward. Come to find out, her boyfriend left on a mission about a month ago, she's in Charlotte for school at Queens and she said she was not happy with all the different churches she's been trying out since she's been here. In a letter, she explained this to her boyfriend who is in the MTC and he emailed her three links to church buildings near her and she just showed up on her own. What a brave soul, right? We set up an appointment to meet with her last night in this same member's home and we taught her the message of the Restoration. She was smiling through the entire lesson and the Spirit was so strong. It was incredible. She's preparing to be baptized on the 12th. These "Cornelius experiences" the best. If we're diligent and obedient and persevere through the difficult times, those who are prepared to hear the gospel will be lead to us and we will be led to them. Harrah for Israel.
I love you all. The gospel is true. I hope you have a wonderful trip this week. I hope Bud gets feeling better. Tell him I said congrats on the musical:) Tell Quinc I love her. Dad I love you too to the moon and back.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JANAE AND MOM. I love you both and I hope you have wonderful birthdays this week:)
Tuesda==It Today preparation day which kind of threw us in a different direction to begin with. We had Mission Leadership Council which was as great as it always is. I had to give a talk and beforehand I was a little shaky. (y'all know how I get when I have to speak:) Luckily, there was no standing microphone that I could touch a million times. Just a clip on mic. :) But it surprisingly went really well. When President Craven had originally asked, he said it was going to be a talk. Then on the agenda for the meeting, it said training...so I kind of freaked because I hadn't prepared it as a training (who knew there was a difference right? there's a big one:) But it all went well and from my companion's opinion, it made sense so that's a good thing.
During MLC President Craven had us all turn to Acts chapter 10. We talked about the story of Cornelius and Peter. He highlighted how each of us has Cornelius experiences as missionaries and that we are lead to people and people are lead to us. He asked one of the Assistants to share a Cornelius experience he had had. It was powerful and then he walked over to us and handed Sister Jameson the mic and said, Sister Jameson, will you please share your Cornelius experience with us? She started from the very beginning and gave a brief summary of our experience with Steve. I hadn't heard her side of the entire situation but it was amazing. The night we went to Steve's house we had earlier been in a lesson with our Elders and an investigator of theirs who was GOLDEN. (one of those people you find one day and three weeks later they're baptized-that's what happened with her) She explained how during that lesson she prayed that we could find our golden investigator. Someone who just needed the gospel at this moment in time. That night Sister Jameson prayed for Steve, Steve prayed for us to find him, and we followed the Spirit. It truly was a Cornelius experience. God blessed us for our diligence and patience.
On Wednesday, there were two sister missionaries from the Temple Square mission that were flying in for their "outbound" that afternoon so Sister Jameson and I got to go to the airport and pick them up. Standing at the bottom of the escalator brought back every nervous feeling I felt the first day I was here and came down the same escalator to see President and Sister Craven at the bottom of the stairs. It amazed me at how much time has passed and how different of a person I've become since that day. Sister Shumway and Sister Whisler spent the rest of the evening with us. We took them to a dinner appointment and straight out to knock on some doors. It was fun to get a different perspective involved. The next day we took them to the mission office to be interviewed and get some paperwork taken care of and then we spent the rest of the day moving. it was quite a trip.
But among all the insanity of moving apartments, a little miracle occurred. We went into the office at our complex to sign some papers and get the actual lease for the housing coordinator. Sister Jameson and I were just sitting at the chairs while the cute office lady, Opal. (mid twenties-ish, super cute girl from SC and looks like she's a celeb) was working away on her computer. I decided to break the awkward silence and started asking her questions about herself. She told us she was originally from Myrtle Beach area and had been in Charlotte for about two years. We went back and forth with typical introductions and I asked her what brought her up to Charlotte. She spoke very softly and said, well I came up to be here with my sister who lived up here, but she passed away in February. She started to cry and kept working on all the paperwork. We continued to talk about other things related to moving and our apartment and then we were about to go and Sister Jameson said, Opal, have you ever met with missionaries before? She shook her head and Sister Jameson briefly explained how missionaries share a message about God's plan for families and about how she can be with her sister again. She started crying and pulled out a sticky note and asked us to write down our phone number and our names and handed us her info card. God will lead them to us and lead us to them. We just have to respond to the Spirit, open our mouths, and trust that God will provide us with the opportunity to share what we know.
Friday we got a third companion. One of the Temple Square sisters became officially ours. Sister Shumway, from Eagar, Arizona is the tri in our tripanionship. She's great. She's been out for a year and is a great missionary. The Elders we share an area with have been in a threeo since we've been here and we've watched and learned from them how to rock the trio so we're excited to scatter ourselves and cover more ground:) it'll be fun.
WHOOOO. Life's a whirlwind. It's been the best and the hardest eight months of my life. I love being a missionary. I am learning so much everyday! I was reading in Mosiah 18 this morning about Alma baptizing in the Waters of Mormon and was amazed at what faith the people had. Such simple and willing faith in their Savior, Jesus Christ. They knew the truth, so they did what was asked of them. The covenanted with God to serve Him and obey Him. Like what dad was saying, the chose to follow their Savior. No one forced them to. Lately I've been praying for increased faith in my Savior. We don't have faith in an outcome, we have faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. And as our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement increases, we have a desire to change and repent and the process of applying the Doctrine of Christ in our life becomes the focus.
After a stressful week it ended perfectly with two wonderful baptisms on Saturday. I've got all the details written down that I'll be sure to tell you but it was all just wonderful. T. was all smiles the whole time. Elder Fowles who serves in our ward too baptized her. She was baptized first and we went back by the font with her. Before she walked down the stairs we had a quick prayer with her. There was the sweetest Spirit present and all the nervous and excited energy had all three of us smiling from ear to ear. She said some of the sweetest things after when we were with her in the dressing room. Then we stepped back out by the font to see S. get baptized. President Craven was able to baptize him and it was the best. The Spirit was so strong throughout the entire service and I was just so happy. Their confirmations on Sunday were just as powerful. It was all so great.
We're adding to our teaching pool right now and meeting some really great people. I am so amazed at how timing is everything. When we are obedient and revelatory in our planning, we are placed in exactly the right places at the right times. The people we meet and the situations they are in when we meet them is proof that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of each of us and knows what we stand in need of.
I love this great work! I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. God loves you, I love you and I hope y'all have a wonderful week:)