Hello hello!!! Shoot I am in a great mood right now and I am so excited to let you know ALL about my week. This will probably be a really long email because so much happened and I don't want to leave anything out. Knowing me, I will probably forget to write some parts but at least in one year you can read my journal all about this week because I recorded it all!
I can honestly say that this was a PIVOTAL week for me here down in Gulfbank. As cheesy as that sounds, its true. My life and outlook is forever changed because of this week. Missions are the best!
First off I just want to preface this by saying that I KNOW God is in the details of our lives. He fixes every minute detail so that his purposes can prevail. His plan can never be frustrated. He is indeed our loving Heavenly Father and we are in His hands. We have no need to fear and we just need to develop patience and trust in Him. I also know that God is literally using me at this very moment to do much good down here in Texas. He is constantly with me and helping me share a message about Christ to those who are willing and needing to hear it.
Remember the family that lives in the cute little yellow house? Well we have been teaching Alex and it is amazing. He is such a quirky weird guy. He is very in to nature and magic. But it’s awesome to see how close he has got to the doctrines of the church on his own. When we taught him the plan of salvation last week, he took notes and explained it back to us. Throughout the week, he told us that he was teaching it to his friends. This week we were excited to teach about the priesthood and the restauracion. It turned out to be a very, very powerful lesson. One of the most powerful lessons because the spirit was not only guiding us as missionaries but also Alex. We used this torn picture visual to explain the apostasy and he loved it. He was smiling the whole time. He didn't just understand it but he loved it. We then talked about Joseph Smith and the First Vision. All he could say was wow. For a while it was silent. Then he said, "You know, I just wish there was a book." We were all freaking out and just dying to dive right in to the Book of Mormon. We explained it and he said that he was VERY interested to read this book. We then restated our purpose as missionaries and he said that he needs to get baptized and born again into the Mormon Church. Right when we were going to invite him, his phone went off and his best friend showed up... Alex made us teach him the plan of salvation. This time we focused more on this life then the spirit world. We told the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. God was working with Alex in that lesson to prepare him to receive the fullness of His blessings. It was beautiful. This is literally God's Kingdom here on the Earth. IT’S SO REAL!
A few weeks ago Hermana Burnham and I were trying to find a menos activo y when he wasn't home, I told her we needed to knock this one number. No idea who lived there or anything but we needed to knock it. So we did and we met this man named Jose and his son Eddenilson. We were very bold and used a line that President Pingree promised would gather the elect. We said that we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we have a very special message that will change your life. He was astonished and was quick to set a return appointment when his wife would be there. For weeks we tried to get in, we called but we got nothing back. We weren't giving up though because we both felt something incredible when we first met him. Also his little son is the cutest, most polite child I have ever met. I want an "Eddenilson" one day. Anyways, we went last week and we met Jose's wife Ana Ruiz- yes they are happily married. She told us how Jose had talked about us and they were both really interested. We were thinking we didn't want to teach one without the other because we wanted a super powerful first lesson with them both there. God wanted it otherwise. She said do you need my husband to be here or can you just talk to me? So we went in, not knowing what to say. I was praying so hard that our mouths would be filled. We talked and testified about eternal families, our purpose, and how her and Eddenilson are children of God. I talked about prayer and cried because I have been having some interesting experiences with prayer that made it so I could testify powerfully about it. Through that I learned that everything God does it for the benefit our not just ourselves but for others as well. They were smiling so big throughout the lesson. Eddenilson said the closing prayer. We left a children's Libro de Mormon and right when we left he started reading it. He later told his mom that he wanted to be Mormon just like us. Great thing is, he is 8. Ana also accepted baptism. They had the light of Christ and it was amazing to see how simple truths really do resonate with that light. God has a plan and he is anxiously working and preparing.
And now another story that furthers proves this point. My first weekend with Hermana Burnham and I was so hard because we had nothing to do. We did a lot of tracting. Our first Saturday, we met an atheist named Ezequial. He told us that his wife had cancer and that he didn't believe we had a purpose and that we just die and nothing happens after. So depressing right? Anyways, we developed a fast love for him. We tried to testify that there was a purpose for him, that he could live with his family forever, and that he is a child of a loving heavenly father. He was pretty hard headed. For the following weeks, we kept trying to go back. People wouldn't answer the door if they were home. There was one time when we actually met his wife but she was too sick to talk and frankly couldn't care less that we were missionaries. But when Hermana Koch came, we were in the area again and decided to stop by- Hermana Koch's first Friday. Juana's (the wife) sister opened the door and left us in. We shared el Libro de Mormon con ellas. Juana was very stubborn and critical but she said she would read it. She then told us how she wanted us to be friends and meet with her daughter because she is so worried about her. She wants us to bring her daughter close to God again. We set up to meet with them both the next Friday. When we went over, we met the daughter Christina. She informed us that her mom had passed away on Tuesday. We sat down at the table and saw the Libro de Mormon sitting there. Everything was neat and tidy in the house so it caught our eye that it was on the table. We asked if we could read a verse from the Libro de Mormon with her and she said of course. She then told us that her mother had taken the Libro de Mormon with her to the hospital so she could read it. We noticed that the book clearly had been read and used. Christina told us that her mom's dying wish for her was to read the book. She told her "this is your book." In 4 days, Juana grew to love the Libro de Mormon and gain a testimony that it is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ.
This last story is just the cutest thing of my life. We took Sara Marin with us last week so we could do splits and get member present lessons. She was my companion. We were having a great time. We saw these kids playing outside and decided to go talk to them and see if they could get their parents so we could introduce ourselves to them. The little boy, Ethan, ran inside to tell his dad that there were some girls outside to see him. He told Ethan he didn't want to come out. So we continued to talk to the kids. We told them how they were children of God and that Jesus Christ is our brother. We told them what we do is talk to people about Jesus Christ. The little boy then said, wait, I NEED TO TELL MY DAD THIS! So we once again ran inside, but his dad once again, denied. But this little girl Rosa told us not to leave because she loves talking about Jesus. So we told her a little bit more. Then when we were about to leave she once again asked us to stay. So I pulled out a children's Libro de Mormon and read the story about when Jesus came to the Americas and blessed the children. Afterwards I stood up and Rosa ran to me and hugged me and wouldn't let go! And told her she could keep the book and her mom could read it to her everyday. She was so excited! The whole time I was thinking about the children's hymn Dime la historia de Cristo. There is a reason we are commanded to become like little children- pure love and so receptive to the spirit! Those children recognized and accepted that they were children of God and it was so amazing. When we are all feeling unimportant or unloved, pray to God and ask, "do you love me?" and then let it happen. He is there and wants you to know that.
Anyways, this was my week in a nutshell. I am the happiest I've ever been. I know that God answers prayers through others because each of these stories I shared with you was an answer to my pleadings with the Lord over the past few months. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that we are God's children and he loves us. I know the gospel changes people. We have a Savior who died for us. I got a blessing from Bishop this week because I felt really prompted to and he explained how I need to more fully rely on our Savior., Believe me I am learning but its a process. The blessing was really beautiful. It was a visual. He explained a tunnel, very dark tunnel that I was in. I was at a bend so I couldn't see the light but that the end was very near. He promised that my family would be unified soon. I just need to hold on and keep moving forward in faith that God will build sturdy ground around me until I get through this particular tunnel. I know that we all can find the light of hope through our Savior Jesus Christ. He died for us and carries us. Keep holding on and pushing through even if you feel like you are in a dark tunnel and there is no sign of light. I was reminded this week if this simple truth. I know that God is in the details of our lives and he does not leave us helpless.
I love this work. I love that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I love that we have scriptures to guide us and fill us when we are alone. I read the Book of Mormon every day claiming that I have a new favorite scripture because each day I am filled with what I need to hear.
I have been so blessed and I truly couldn't be more grateful for these experiences this week.
LOVE YOU ALL!!
I just wanted to leave you all with this statement from Elder Perry that he told all the new mission presidents recently:
“2013 will be looked upon in the story of the church with the same regards as that of 1820 and the first vision. 1830 the organization of the church and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. 2013 will be looked upon as the day when the Lord started to hasten his work”
So humbled to be part of this work at this time.
*Message from her cousin Elder Macdonald, "mack and i both had "pivotal weeks" i said that in my email too. hahaha it kills me how similar we are. love her."