Last night at the Why I Believe fireside, Sister Smith comes up to me with her camera out-- and there's a picture of all y'all on there!! Haha it blew me away! I can't believe you were here and left and I had no idea! It sounds like Katie's talk was fabulous. You're right Dad, her topic was very similar to mine :) Just one question, Nelson has a beard?? Haha going for the rugged look I see ;) You guys looked so happy!
Bout 2 minutes after Sis Smith told me you were here, President Snow walked up to me to say hello, so I told him "Guess what President? My family was in the mission today!" And he says,"And they didn't call?!" Apparently it would have been ok for you to see me for an hour, for dinner or lunch, as long as you get permission from them. Oh well. Something to keep in mind if family stuff brings you to Vegas again! I haven't struggled much with homesickness in a long time so I'd enjoy that. But it's great either way, whether you want to see me or think it would be too hard. It's just kinda fun to know you were so close! ;)
Well, while you were at Katie's homecoming talk, I was singing a solo in church! Haha not sure how I got roped into that, but boy let me tell you. Singing in church is a lot more nerve wracking as a missionary! There's a part of you that's like "There are investigators here, and they have to feel the Spirit, and what if you mess up and they can't feel the spirit and they don't come back to church and it's all your fault *fhoooo* *whooo* *fhooo* *whooo*" I sure prayed that the Spirit would accompany my singing and that it would help strengthen people's testimonies of Christ. It strengthened my testimony at least, so I think it worked :) I sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives and a girl named Kaitlin accompanied me. She's a middle school choir teacher, so I'm thinkin we should've switched places ;)
Gonna backtrack now and talk about the week. This week was FABULOUS! There was a sister's conference on Friday where allll 100 of the sisters in the mission got together and had an uplifting training and a yummy lunch. It was like a huge powwow spiritual-shot-in-the-arm girl's day! So I got to see Sister Robinson again (sooo much love) and many other sisters that I love as well. A couple counselors from LDS family services came and talked to us about guilt, shame, and vulnerability; Mom, you would have loved it! It finally sunk in for me-- the difference between making a mistake and viewing it as "I did a bad thing" and "I am bad." One leads to self-improvement, and the other leads to low self esteem! Gotta get rid of stinkin' thinkin', as Sister Neider would say!
We took Derek on a self-guided tour of the temple grounds, explaining baptisms and family history work and temple marriage. He really understands that baptism is not a finish line-- it's just the beginning! He told us "I'm coming back as soon as I possibly can!" Good guy Derek. :) His testimony is so strong. His baptism is on Saturday and I'm thinking we might have to move into the chapel because the whole ward may show up! He's become so popular! Keep him in your prayers this week please :)
To answer your question Mom, Stephanie is still doing great! She asks the absolute best questions in lessons. I've learned over the past couple months that there's a huge difference between "asking questions" and "questioning." When you ask questions, you sincerely want to know, but when you question, you want to disprove or discredit something. Stephanie asks questions! That is such a strength! It shows that she has so much faith. It's so important that when we have honest questions, we ask them, but don't let them be fueled by our doubts. I think they talked about this in Conference. :)
We have a new investigator named Johnny! How do I describe Johnny? I really don't know how to describe Johnny... except he's a riot! He keeps us hoppin' for sure! 20something YSA, apparently was in jail recently, crazy tattoos, swears like a sailor, laughs at evvvverything, but has a great heart. He keeps surprising us by coming to the things we invite him to, including institute, the luau, AND church, and making lots of friends in the ward. He is progressing and I think we'll see miracles with him!
One of my favorite things about being in a single's ward is that there's always activities to invite people to! We sound so cool in street contacts... like, "Yeah, you should come to our church, they go to the beach and play volleyball and racquetball and there's a luau on Saturday with a whole roast pig and hula dancers and everything..." I'm not sure why everybody doesn't want to be a Mormon! ;) The luau was a huge hit. Several investigators came, a less-active and her boyfriend, and Michael even invited two random guys he met in his apartment complex who showed up. They came to church the next day AND we got a return appointment. I'm catching the vision of church activities! Sister Luke and I ran around like everyone's moms, making sure everyone was having a good time and had rides to get there and rides home. We shouldn't have worried-- the ward is so unified!
Oh, one more thing. We went to contact a new referral several days ago and ended up on the strip! Haha whoooooops. I'm so glad we were with a member. But we realized the referral was going to be out of our area, so we said "we'd better exit the freeway," and all of the sudden.... there's the castle! It was basically the most exciting and also petrifying experience of my mission so far. We're still laughing about it.
Being a missionary is so super cool! When else do you get to see as many amazing things happen in other people's lives every day? Whoever's been praying for me, thank you, because Heavenly Father has been pouring blessings down. This is the best decision I've ever made! It's worth every minute!
I'm going to try and re-send some pictures so you can see them. ...next week, because I forgot my camera cord. Haha sorry the pictures haven't been working! Have you been able to upload them to the blog? In the meantime, I'll send a few from Sister Luke's camera.
Lots of love, Seester Browning