We met for Ward council this week. It made me realize too, how much responsibility leaders have. I honestly didn't know ward councils happened until my mission.. and then I thought they only happened outside of Utah. We have a member named Sister N. She is the best! She is so sweet and funny. She is divorced and all her kids are less active. She just recently reached a less active status. She slowly stopped coming to church. She was called as a ward missionary but she hasn't done anything. She is slipping away FAST. The ward was discussing her in ward council and her temporal needs. They have tried helping her find another job. I said "We visited her this week and she just needs a lot of support..." I got cut off and was told, "we have supported her for years!" I bit my tongue.. and said no more. As I thought on that during the week, and as we visited her this week, I noticed she needs a lot of spiritual support. She said her testimony wasn't the problem, but her kids were there so she didn't say what the true problem is. She's mentioned before having no friends and feeling lost there. She needs spiritual support. The members can give someone temporal support for ever! But that will do nothing. It doesn't strengthen their testimony. It doesn't increase their desire to fulfill their calling. It doesn't do much. They may come to church for financial help at first, but our job is to keep them there because they understand the importance of church and have a strong testimony. One visit to a person who is struggling doesn't cut it. Brother Hirschi here home taught a less active member for 20 years faithfully... She just recently started coming back to church. Twenty years is what it took and it's still not done!! I have to do all I can to spiritually strengthen others.
President Andersen sent me this amazing letter about being called as a trainer. I got it and it just made my day. I'm trying so hard to be obedient. Sister Schenk and I just started the 40 day fast together today and it is going to be great! I have a lot to work on, but it's amazing what strengths Sister Schenk points out when we do companion inventory. She said I'm not afraid to talk to anyone and I was like "What?!" I guess I'm not. Sometimes I still am but not compared to at the beginning of my mission. It's awesome!!!
President Andersen gave us a challenge as a mission to read the Book of Mormon in the next 2 transfers. Thirty minutes a day and he said we will see a great increase in baptisms! I'm so excited. I'm just going to read a plain unmarked copy and I'm just going to read read read! I can't wait!
At the beginning of this week we rode bikes for 3 more days... every time we got back on them we just kept saying "ow. ow. ow. ow" haha my butt = mega sore!! We biked over 10 miles on Tuesday. Towards day 4 of bikes, we were riding pretty slow everywhere. But yesterday our plans were all close by and it was a beautiful day! So we biked all over. It was hot though. We were so sweaty and our hair was matted down by our sweat and helmets. Summer is going to be ... a blast.. I do love biking though. Yesterday I had on a skirt that was not bike compatible. Sister Schenk had heard of a trick where you take a clothes pin and pin your skirt between your legs. It didn't work. So then I got smart. I put the pin on the break cord that runs to the back tire and pinned the front of my skirt there. I looked like a total idiot but hey, my skirt didn't ride up.
So things with Terry went a little weird. We taught him lesson 1 on Monday and it went great! Then we couldn't get him to respond to texts. Finally Saturday he said he was at the hospital with family and that he wasn't sure if he could make it to church... and he felt lost and falling apart. We were worried!!! Well we finally got to talk to him on the phone last night. He's ok and we are meeting with him tonight and committing him to baptism!!!
This week we were out tracting and we came to a house. An older man answered and we proceeded with our little speech. He let us know he went to another church already and that he had a good faith in Christ. I started to ask "That's great! How did you gain your faith in Christ?" He was slowly closing the door the whole time I was asking him. He just looked at us and closed the door! Haha I tried so hard not to laugh walking away! Hey at least he was nice and didn't slam the door. He was very gentle with that door closing.
We got in contact with a lot of referrals this week too! Yesterday we had 2 referrals. The first was a referral from a member who met a lady in the park and shared the gospel with her. We tried 4 times to contact her with no luck. We went one more time yesterday after church with the member. Then I was bound to give up. As we were waiting for our member after church, we were hot, hungry and anxious to get home. I kept remembering times in the past where I've sacrificed something I wanted for the work. Our member came out and he followed us to her place. After 3 LOUD knocks, she answered! We went in, talked about the Book of Mormon, gave her one and set up an appointment! It was worth the extra hour of hunger sacrifice. And I wasn't even hungry while we were there!
The second was a headquarters referral. Brittney had referred herself on Mormon.org but she said she had just filled out a bunch of stuff online for help in the area. I was thinking "Dang it! A dead end." Well, I kind of nudged Sister Schenk to start teaching the restoration. Her son was outside playing with blocks and riding his trike but she was focused. She listened and asked questions. She is going to read the Book of Mormon and at the end, she said a prayer to ask if what we had taught was true! It was a picture perfect lesson! We have another appointment with her on Saturday.
Oh and also yesterday as we were strolling into the neighborhood for dinner, noticed our neighbors outside that we've met. They said "Hey girls!" We stopped and talked. Four houses of neighbors were all over at Shawn’s house. Shawn is single and has a really well trained dog named Rugar. Gail has grandkids that stay over on the weekends, Karen has a REALLY FLUFFY lassie dog named Bo, and Janet loves riding motor cycles. We were playing with the leaf seeds that had fallen to the ground. You can stick them to your nose if you do it a certain way. That moment was picture perfect too... the whole neighborhood knows each other and loves each other. Classic southern neighborhood. Oh... and I say y'all now. A lot. Oops.
Leaf seeds that stick to your face.
We taught Noel and Nanette, and once again we were bold. We showed them a video that talks about not procrastinating. I said "We need you now. We can't wait. We need your talents, your testimony, etc. Now." They are getting so close to getting married and coming back to church!!!
Friday we saw the Hamiltons again. I think I've told you about them. They are the best!!! Brother Hamilton asked for the missionary pamphlets so he can learn how to teach individuals simply. He went to the hospital and now has to have therapy at the nursing home, but his therapist almost was baptized years ago! He's so excited to work with her and hopefully have us teach her! His face was like a little kid’s who just discovered the Easter basket when he told us about this opportunity!
We also taught Peggy. Missionaries were teaching her a long time ago, before I got here, and then she dropped them. I met her just before Sister Ferrin left. Now we are teaching her again. We taught lesson 1 and then did a scripture study. That's how she wants to do it. A lesson, and then read with her in the Book of Mormon. She hasn't come to church yet because she gets harsh pain in her face and a few days before a storm comes in is when it's the worst. And we've had storms on Mondays and Tuesdays which means Saturdays and Sundays she's knocked out in pain. But she will get there one day!
Lastly, we had Stake Conference this weekend. All the missionaries were told to attend the Priesthood Leadership meeting on Saturday afternoon. We could not find a ride. Friday night, we were desperate. We texted our District Leader and asked what we do if we couldn't find a ride. They were going to drive themselves because no one in their Branch could take them. They got permission for us to ride with them, but later called us back and said their Ward Mission Leader and his wife would take us and they would go with their Branch President. We drove to their area and they took us to Paducah. The Saturday afternoon session was so good! I was taking good notes. It was all on missionary work. Then they fed us dinner. They fed only the missionaries, haha and it was good!!! The evening session was even better, but it broke my heart at how few people attended. In the evening session they talked about numbers... why are we decreasing? Over the last few years our numbers of baptisms have gone way down. This year it’s predicted we will baptize only 20 as a stake. The number is linked to how many lessons are taught with a member there. When the members were more present, the baptisms were higher. When less members helped, the numbers dropped. I wish they had shown the graph Sunday so everyone could have seen it. It hit me. Members ARE the KEY!!! We CANNOT do the work without them. It's impossible. The prophet COMMANDED members to work with missionaries. Are you keeping that commandment? People don't understand that missionary work is incorporated in every calling. You don't have to completely shift gears to be a missionary. There was a story told about someone who saw a big problem and said "Lord why don't you do something about this?" The Lord replied "I already did. I created you" Powerful right?! We have had 0 exchanges with members for the last month. Our weekly goal to have members present has decreased from an average of 11 to 3. And we can't even get 3 in a week. So... CHALLENGE TIME! At least once a month, go out with the missionaries, if you can. I know the missionaries there are swamped, but fight your way to help them. They need it. I loved stake conference. All I hear coming from church leaders now is missionary work. The Lord is coming. SOON! He is coming and we need to do EVERYTHING we can to prepare. Dan Clark said we need to wear ourselves out doing missionary work. If I arrive in front of the Lord on my hands and knees, dragging myself because I've worked so hard that I can no longer stand, then I will be happy. I couldn't help but smile during every activity yesterday! I looked like the biggest idiot biking yesterday in a helmet, with my skirt pinned to my bike and smiling from ear to ear. But I felt great and I was happy because I was doing everything I could to share the gospel and do the Lord's work. It was truly amazing. I want to do all I can because I love the Lord. What about you?
Lastly in this novel, I wanted to share a special miracle. Sunday, Stake Conference consisted of testimonies and stories from returned missionaries all across the stake. Mostly people who had been home for a LONG time. I was kind of bummed because the members didn't get to see the graph or be taught about needing more member missionary work, but for me, it was still special. They had a couple people bear their testimony in their mission language. There was Chinese, Italian, Korean, Sign Language, and English. Each time, the spirit flooded me. I had no clue what they were saying, but they said it by the power of the spirit which bore witness to me that it was true. It was so powerful and cool because I have never experienced that before. The gospel is true. No matter where you are or what language you speak. It's true.
I love you and I can't wait to talk to you. My mind is blown that I'm almost half way finished with the best year and a half of my life. I can't believe it's week three of the transfer! Time is going faster than before! But I'm excited to keep working hard. I love you! Or should I say.... Love y'all!!!
The bishop's youngest daughter, my little buddy, got baptized this week.
It's getting SO green here.
All the pollen on our car.
Jeff and Abbey caught 4 of these baby turtles at the lake.
Sister Schenk with the larger turtle that was trying to get in the church last week.