Monday, January 12, 2015

Hardest But Best 16 Months of My Life So Far

I've been having a lot of mixed emotions lately about the time ending on my mission. Wow it's becoming real. And I think it's best if we don't talk about it that much. I really miss my family because it's now hit me that it's been FOREVER since I've seen y'all and been able to hug you. But... I'm having a hard time dealing with the fact that I'm going to have to leave Tennessee and go back to Utah. I love it here so much and all the memories I have of this place are so tender and I just feel like when I leave, I'll be leaving those memories behind. I know I won’t be... but that's what it feels like. It's been the happiest 16 months of my life so far. The hardest, yes, but the best. I have 2 1/2 more months to pound out everything I have left. It's a great motivator.

This is what I wrote in my journal notes the other day!

My heat broke so much when I heard about Brother Gilstrap. I can't even imagine how hard of a time that family is going through... and for Kara to stay on her mission throughout all of that? Wow.... I know her and her family will be greatly blessed for that. I really loved Brother Gilstrap. He was always smiling and had such a great personality. I hope Sister Gilstrap is ok. I can't even imagine. I love that family so much and have known them for a long time and so it seems to hurt so much more. I've been praying for him so much this week. I guess it was just time for him to go. God's plan for us is so perfect though. We just have to trust in it.

I was so excited when I found out that the Hulls were related to Sister McKell! Haha we were in the car and they asked where I was from and then Sister Hull asked what school I went to and when I graduated. She thought I would know Branson but then didn't think so.... When she said his name I was like "wait... as in Diana and Brianna and Hunter?" She said yes and that Diana was her Aunt! How crazy! Small Mormon world... I absolutely love the Hull's! We had a fun dinner and they took us out to Dairy Queen after. Their little girl is so precious too! They are great people.

I can't even tell you how great Sister West is! We have a problem though... we love being companions so much and have so many MTC memories that we get distracted SO much from talking and then we don't have much time left after planning because we'll end up talking and laughing till 10:20 p.m. or something haha. It's a blessing and a curse all at the same time! And the Hermanas keep us laughing all the time! I just love them so much! We were all singing in the car on the way to the store earlier and I was just happy to be with such great sisters who love the Lord and who I get along with. It made me smile and relax!

Alrighty!!! Now about this week!

We had a miracle in the bread aisle in Walmart... yes, the bread aisle... We were deciding on bread and a guy stopped us to ask if we could only eat certain things as Mormons. We explained the Word of Wisdom and that we were just sharing food haha He said he's met with missionaries before but things didn't go well so he didn't let them come back. He gave us his info though and said he'd love to have us over to talk. So I was on an exchange when Sister West went, but from what I was told, it went great! She and the other sister brought a member and Darrell (the guy from Walmart) had 2 other friends over to talk. They had a great discussion and taught them a lot about the Book of Mormon. They all took one and invited us to come back. Later Darrell called us to ask about the Book of Mormon and also about church. He is so open and so willing to let us come over! He runs a little YSA group in his church and so we're excited for him to go check out the YSA in Nashville. He's just the perfect Investigator! We have another appointment set up with him on Wednesday so I'm excited to see how that goes! He's just a good christian kid and so enthusiastic about it all too!

Then we had dinner with the Hull's and they dropped us off at our appointment. After our appointment we had to catch the bus and we only had a few minutes before it came. Sister West can walk pretty darn fast and so she was booking it and I just kept looking at my little legs and thinking "why aren't you moving faster? What's wrong with you down there? C'mon!!! MOVE!!!" Haha I was panting and coughing and downing her water and as soon as we get to the bus stop, she veers off the road and jumps over a ditch running up to a car. I had no clue what was going on.... I just walked towards the headlights and turns out it was a member who had seen us and turned around to pick us up. I didn't know them, so their first impression of me was me saying "What's your name?.... Oh ok, well I'm the dead missionary" Haha I was practically wheezing for air!!! I am clearly out of shape! They took us to our last appointment which was perfect because if we had just rode the bus, we wouldn't have had time. We would have had to just go home. So we get there to teach the Racey family and Tim (the dad) opens the door and says "Get in quick!" We go in and he tells us that someone had just got shot a few doors down about an hour ago.... the guy died and the cops were investigating so another huge blessing that the Hillman's gave us a ride.

The lesson with the Racey family was incredible. We taught them most of the Restoration and they all really liked it! Tim had a lot of questions that we were able to answer for them. Oh it was just so cool. The Hillman's came back after and took us home which was another miracle so we didn't have to walk. The members here are so great. I kind of like being with a part time car because it forces the members a little more to help out. They are used to us not having a car so they are willing to help drive places and come to lessons. I love it!

We had MLC all day down in Nashville. The meeting was so good! It was full of great trainings and things I really needed to hear! I got to help with a role-play that the AP's did. I felt honored to be able to help and it helped me feel a boost of confidence that I've been needing! We learned about planning lessons, not letting Mormon messages take over teaching people, goals, faith and hope, and using all our tools. I really enjoyed it! I liked the planning and tools ones the best. They were a little chastening but then again really helpful because it helps me plan to use scriptures more in lessons. We've just kind of put away the idea of using videos for right now, because they are tending to take over teaching.

Taking notes in MLC

Me with Sister Andersen, Sister Oldroyd and Sister West at MLC.

With some of the Sister Training Leaders at MLC.

I love these girls! 

On the way home from MLC we passed some sisters from our mission out doing work. We had some of the elders in the car with us and they rolled down the window and yelled "HEEEYY". We told them the sisters probably just thought it was some creeper dudes. We told them that sisters get whistled at all the time and one elder said "I wish someone would whistle at me...." Haha without thinking about it, Sister West said "If I wasn't a sister I would...... (then she realized what she was saying and she got real quiet) whistle... never mind" Hahahaha we all died of laughter!!! She just keeps saying how awkward she is around guys but I think it's hilarious! That was a good way to end the ride home!

That  night we saw Debbie who was baptized last weekend. She is just ten times happier! She told us that a friend asked her to not post so much stuff about her religion and she said "That just makes me want to post MORE!" Haha then she openly addressed it with a quote about sharing light and she said she will not let her light be dimmed! She is so amazing! She also asked for a Book of Mormon that she could give to her bus driver. Missionary Debbie!

The weather was about 18 degrees all day, but the windchill made it about -2. And we were on foot. I learned something though. Layers really do make a difference! I wore a total of 21 pieces of clothing to stay warm. I couldn't hardly move, but I was warm!.... ish....

We walked to try a couple of people and no one would let us in! They all told us we needed to get in out of the cold.... um HELLO!!! We're trying to get in YOUR house out of the cold!!!!! We can't go home, so LET US IN!!! Sheesh.. you would think that someone would understand! So we got on the bus and rode down town. I talked to my first cross dresser on my first bus ride.... Hahahahahaha It was clearly a man and he did not know how to walk in a skirt. He had the worst wig on and had a deep voice and his nails were red and he told me he liked my coat, but that my hood made me look like a Nun! Oh my, it was quite the experience.

Wearing 21 different pieces of clothing to stay warm... and my hood that the cross dresser said made me look like a Nun.

No cold is going to get to me!

We did get into one house of an investigator named Cathy. Being in a warm quiet house.... made me VERY sleepy! GAH! It bothers me so badly that I fall asleep in so many lessons out here! I'm still catching up on sleep.... So I really can't remember what we taught Cathy. I was just fighting to keep my eyes open.

Lastly that night we had the BEST lesson ever with the Racey family! We read a little in the Book of Mormon with them and answered some of their questions. Then Tim excused himself for a minute as we were wrapping up the lesson. We asked Sarah (the mom) and Kassie (the daughter - teenager who has some disabilities) if they wanted to pray and they quickly said "NO". We taught them how and then I said a prayer to show them, and then Sarah said one. She said it really felt good to pray out loud! Then Kassie was asked and she didn't want to. Sarah was telling her how easy it was and that she could do it. Kassie went and sat by her mom, and her mom helped her get started and then Kassie finished. It was so tender! I love moments where investigators get to experience a joy of the gospel for the very first time!!! We get to go see them again tonight and I'm super stoked!

We had Zone meeting and I gave a training about planning. Ironically... I didn't plan my training about planning very well. I had so little time and so I did most of it during the elder’s trainings. Haha. It turned out pretty well though. I'm becoming more comfortable with those kinds of things.

After the meeting, I went to Lebanon on an exchange with Sister W. It was an alright exchange. It was cold and we did some tracting... with little success. I was also trying not to fall asleep at our appointments. Haha it was rough. The family we had dinner with was fun though. Sister W. complained about them the whole way over, but I just had fun playing with their kids and talking and laughing! I don't know why she didn't like them..... that night I was super cold all night! I used my two coats as extra blankets. I did take an extra hot shower that night though and used all their hot water! That luxury doesn't really exist when you have 4 sisters living in one apartment.

We got to do weekly planning which was good because it was inside, sitting down.... I was feeling sick and so sore. It was almost a time to recooperate without having to stay inside extra time. Planning went a little longer into the day than usual because we started later because of switching back from the exchange. So after dinner we hopped on the bus again and found a shortcut to where we were going which included hopping over some railroad tracks. Off roading in our skirts! It saved us about 2 miles thankfully! Guess who we went to see?! CHA!!! She is doing so good! I can see a new confidence in her. She has a strong desire to come back to church and read her scriptures and pray, she just needs our help to do it. She is so much more outgoing and happy and we just had a good time. I love her!

Then Chelsea from the YSA who lives near us, came and picked us up for our 8:00 p.m. appointment. It was with a YSA age girl named Brittany. She had a male friend there who we later found out was her roommate to help pay bills. Even though she loves the Law of Chastity, she let him move in because she can't afford her rent by herself. We taught them both part of the Plan of Salvation, but it was just weird with that guy there. He was hitting on all of us. I'm so glad Chelsea was there! She kept telling him to stay focused on the lesson. They seemed to understand though, and hopefully next time will be more successful with Brittany.

We had lunch with our amazing ward mission leader, Brother Sims... Jr. He just does his calling right and it's amazing! He keeps close contact with all of us and he handles 6 missionaries pretty well. He really listens to us explain our people and he does all he can to help them progress and he follows through on everything he says he'll do. A ward runs much better this way. It's incredible to be a part of this!

We then tried a couple other people with not much success. Finally we saw Aijalon and taught her the Plan of Salvation. She is so incredible and has already read some of the Book of Mormon. She was going to come to church, but her sister's baby died and so she went there to help her. Aijalon has 3 cute boys named Jakari, Akotti, and Princeton. They opened the door and Jakari is the oldest said "The sister missionaries! Aw I missed you!" Melts my heart!

Then later we had dinner with the Sims.... Sr. Brother Sims parents. We had.... STEAK!!! and so much other good food! I was stuffed! Also Sister Sims had a craft room and it just reminded me of my Mommy. Spools of thread on the wall and fabric everywhere and a dress form and all the good stuff. I actually got time to sew my button back onto my coat too. The members here just take such good care of us!

We taught Sherry our neighbor that night and her daughter Kia and Granddaughter Tastasia. We read the intro and 1 Nephi 1 with them and they all loved it! I love how when the spirit is in a lesson, things just click for people. They feel it and they know it. The gospel is so true.

CHA CAME TO CHURCH!! She looked so gorgeous and when members asked who she was, she sounded so confident, compared to last year when she would practically whisper her name. She was smiling and happy to be there!!! We got a new bishop that day. It was a day of mixed emotions. I had only briefly worked with Bishop Wayment, and I could tell he was a stellar bishop. But Brother Sims Sr. was called. He has worked with Bishop Wayment for years and so I have no doubt that the ward will continue to run smoothly. And now we can tell the Sims apart! One is Bishop Sims, and the other is Brother Sims. Brilliant!

Church was good but I started to get a massive migraine, like from the concussion. Walking a lot with my bag caused it I think. During Relief Society I was thinking of how I could overcome it. Water wasn't helping, Past Tense oil wasn't helping, I was starving, we had no car to get home for meds, and we had a potluck after that I would have to endure.... I couldn't do it. We went to the bathroom and I was shaking and felt like I was going to throw up and pass out. A member noticed and took us straight home. I felt so bad because we missed the potluck and just ditched Cha, but I couldn't do it. I took some meds and laid in bed in more pain than I'd ever felt. This was by far the worst migraine. I was in bed for a total of 16 1/2 hours from the time we got home till I woke up this morning. My eyes were constantly crossed and my ears hurt... I just laid trying to sleep. As I said my evening prayers, the thought came to my mind, "I bet your family isn't too far away from kneeling down to pray for you, and then they'll all say their individual prayers and pray for you, and your ward, and bishop, and prophet, and the members here, and family are all praying for you!" Tears rolled down my face... what a sweet blessing it is. I felt the power of your prayers for me last night. I woke up with it still there a bit. My ears still hurt and I still feel pretty sick, but I can function. Sweet Sister West took care of me and then while I slept, she still worked by making phone calls and setting up appointments. She's an incredible missionary.

Anyways... I'm so looking forward to this next week. We have some great things planned! I have so much love and joy for this gospel! I just want to share it with everyone! I have a very special relationship with my Heavenly Father. I was talking with people who aren't close to God, I felt sorrow for them, and joy for the relationship that I do have with Him. I feel Him around me constantly. I always feel Him near, and I talk with Him quite often. It's incredible. I can't even imagine not knowing about Him. I just wanted to share with you that I love this work so much! I love the gospel and I'm loving being with a companion that goes home with me because we're both just dying to work hard as ever! I've just had such joy this week. Mostly whenever I think about the gospel and how much it's blessed my life and how true I know it to be.... This is undeniably true! It brings me so much happiness and helps me do what I don't think I normally could!

~Sister Rokovitz~