The next night I was having some more struggles. That triggered the door open and Satan just waltzed right in. When we got home my companion wanted to talk about it. I didn't. Waking up the next day was not pleasant. She wanted to talk but I had nothing to say. Eventually I was able to talk to Sister Hardgrave again. Sister Hardgrave calmed me down and we talked about EVERYTHING. She sent me some emails about how introverts work and how they become happy and how to be a happy missionary and how to prepare for bed so I get a good sleep.
President Andersen also talked to me and it’s a good thing I love and trust him... Because he laid it down. He said Satan had a hold of me and I had to let the Atonement work. He made me promise him to pray until I felt the spirit. He extended the same challenge to Sister Hargadon. I had to tear Satan out of my soul. Rip him from my thoughts and actions. I had to destroy him. Tears started streaming from my face. Sister Hargadon was sobbing, just pleading and praying to God to give me His love. I imagine Heavenly Father was probably sobbing too.... I was just so close to being done. When she prayed, I felt it. I apologized and we just cried and cried and cried. My eyes still burn from it.
We went to McMinnville that day for the Nativity and the music went really well. The thing that I like most, was the quiet room with thousands of Nativities set up. I felt the spirit there. I kept avoiding everyone who was trying to get us ready to leave. I also felt God’s love extremely strong for me as I entered the art room with paintings all about Christ in there. It was sacred. So special. The sacrament was so real for me yesterday. I had a very rough week... And I'm not fully "recovered" yet, but I know God loves me.
We talked things out a lot this morning and found that a lot of big things with no rest will drain my bucket. Like we were going to do back to back exchanges starting tomorrow and then Zone Conference and then MLC... I knew I'd die. So we figured a better solution. We resolved that last transfer, I had 0 time to refill my bucket. It was always go go go go go. It's not anything anyone did wrong, I just went too fast for too long. I've been so exhausted this week. Sister Hardgrave even told Sister Hargadon that I was so exhausted. Sister Hargadon has been so understanding and we've taken things a lot slower and just really tried to understand each other.
Throughout all of this, I have come to a more sure knowledge that God lives. He loves me beyond my comprehension and His Son knows exactly what I felt. The Atonement is real. This gospel.... is the best thing that ever exists because it's real. Nothing else could have pulled me out of such a darkness. So, my challenge to all who read this, whoever it may be,........ Pray. Ask for help. Know that God loves you. I've felt hell this week. And I've also felt redemption. I've felt God. Never forsake Him.
I know this week will be better. I've got tools, I've got a companion, I've got the Lord, I'm set. I've also got the little "You Are Special" story book. You have no clue how much that simple story changes me each time I read it. I love it.
Well.. I guess I'll just give you an update of our investigators.
Aaron is doing so good! We were on exchanges Tuesday and we had no where to teach him, so we asked Mia if we could come to her apartment. (Her and her husband plan the activities). She said yes and we taught him. He had just fasted all day a couple days ago for an answer and told us if he didn't get one, he wasn't going to come to church anymore. He keeps making the excuse that he is just so set in his past religious ways when we know he isn't very devoted at all. Then Mia said she was the same religion Aaron was before she got baptized. She was very very strong in her religion. She explained that she would go to everything but she knew this church was true. We had no clue she had been the same religion as Aaron before she was baptized! He softened up, and then his real concern came spilling out. He's afraid if he gets baptized that his mom (who passed away 2 years ago) will be mad. Mia said her mom joined after her. He found peace and told us he'd keep coming to church and look for an answer. He then texted us later and told us he had been thinking a lot about the lesson with Mia and he was feeling better and thinking about being baptized soon!!!!!! He also came to church yesterday! He is doing SO well! He feels like he has more friends and one of our YSA, Colten, invited him over on Friday or Saturday to hang out and go to the movies. It's the biggest miracle ever! Not a lot of our YSA get fellowshipped outside of church. It's such a relief when the members start to be their real friends instead of just say they are. Miracles.
Ebony... Said she's starting to work so we haven't seen her all week. She will not be getting baptized this Saturday.
Calvin is doing very well! He is still set for January 6th. He said he was coming to church but he got called into work. We asked when he was getting off work and he said "When Christ comes back." Haha he works so stinkin much!! So we did get to see him on Tuesday. We talked about the prophet and obedience and he really liked it. We talked about how he can know if Thomas S. Monson is really a prophet. He is doing good but he still needs to come to church to gain a solid testimony.
Did I ever tell y'all about Amber? We met her on campus and she has met Mormons before and she was going to see the Book of Mormon musical and was so excited. We taught her and discovered that she doesn't even know God or feel connected to Him. So we've had a couple good lessons about God and His nature and how to gain a stronger relationship with Him. She is so cool! She was going to come to the Nativity last night but finals got in the way...
Wayne is doing really good! He was brought to church by Sean and we've been meeting with him regularly. Sean has since then disappeared but Wayne still comes on his own to activities and lessons. Wayne even brought a friend to church yesterday! He brought Cody and Cody loved church! We're meeting with both of them on Friday and Wayne said he could help teach Cody the Restoration! Holy cow! Miracle! We taught Wayne the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and committed him to pray about baptism. He's just as solid as ever and is going to make a great member!
Last week a young man named Jaykob came to church. We taught him that night and he came to FHE and we taught him Wednesday right before Institute and he came to Institute and he came to Sports Night and he was invited to the movies Friday. Things are going so good for him! He said he knew it was true but didn't want to get baptized because his family is hard core Baptist. But he called his dad this week and told him he came to church and his dad was supportive! Then he said he told him he was reading the Book of Mormon and his dad was excited for him! Jaykob had such a glow to him as he told us this! He also got to see Keith get the priesthood yesterday! It was so good!
A while ago we tracted into a girl named LeeAnn and she was so open! Well we've gone back a couple times and mainly teach her husband Andy. Leeann just likes to listen. Andy has so many good questions! At first it seemed like he was bashing but then in his prayer he said "Please help us to have open hearts and to keep learning and accept what is being taught." He is so cool! Really intense though. We had a good lesson about the priesthood and the Book of Mormon this week! They weren't able to make it to church but I'll keep you updated on them.
No new news about Amanda or Dre. Amanda hasn't responded on Facebook and I don't know if she's back in town yet. We also haven't seen Dre in a while. But I'm going to make an extra effort this week to find them.
We tracted into a guy named Tom (?) this week and he is so cool! He was so nice! We taught part of the Restoration and he loved it. I didn't have a pamphlet to give him but I gave him a mormon.org card and he was excited because he knew the website would probably have more info than the pamphlet. He was nice and wanted to come to activities. He was injured at work so we didn't get to see him again but we're going back for sure.
We also met a crazy lady named Eliza. Sister Hargadon just loved her but.. I was so weirded out! She told us all about how she is the head of many large churches and she is evangelizing here and she has cancer and since she knows she's dying she's going to smoke and she thinks that will help set an example to everyone else that they need to stop smoking. She invited us over for dinner and then we asked if we could pray and so I was going to say it but she wanted to start. She started and prayed in Hebrew...... Then she passed it off to me. I had no clue what to say. So I started a normal prayer and tried hard to focus but it was hard with her whispering Hebrew throughout my whole prayer! It was certainly different. She left for Chicago on Friday so we didn't get to go for dinner, but we're going to send the missionaries there to her. Good luck to them....
Emily is just rock solid. She is finished with first Nephi and wants to be up to Words of Mormon by January 1st. She is preparing for the temple on the 19th and we're trying to get Austin and Keith and Chris there too. She already has an appointment this week for an interview and she very proudly paid her first tithing yesterday! She was so excited to do that! She paid tithing and fast offerings. She is the best.
We are teaching a Less-active named Gabbi and she is doing so well! She is praying now in our lessons and she even taught Jaykob with us one night. She also loves Institute! She is just a gem!
We're also teaching a girl name Stephanie. She is Amber's friend and she is Messianic Jew... But only because her family is. She really doesn't know what she believes. So it's been interesting to teach her. She had a bad experience with elders a while ago because they just tried to push religion on her. She liked that we didn't do that. She is really sweet.
I love you so much and I'm doing much better. I promise. Thank you for your prayers this week. They were felt. I got a blessing from Elder Bolos and he told me y'all were all praying for me. Thank you.
I love you so much. So much. Thank you again.
A good quote for me this week.
The room with all the Nativities set up.
The art room with various pictures of Christ.