Hey dearly beloved family,
You bought a TRAILER?? And you're thinking about a jacuzzi? Okee, you guys have learned how to have fun. ;) Have you named the trailer yet? Don't forget, it has to start with a "B"! Y'know, cause of Agnes...
Mom and Dad, I loved hearing about your experience at the temple. It really does align us spiritually every time. Several of the new converts are going to the temple to do baptisms for the first time this week. We bought them little temple recommend holders and pictures of the Las Vegas temple. It makes me so happy to see people keep their eyes on the temple! Mom, I'll be praying for you as the weather cools down. Going to the temple every week is the best idea ever. This is gonna be the best winter you ever had! :)
Ok, so I didn't actually punch a shark this week. But hopefully that got you really interested in this email! xD I did, however, have a dream that I was swimming through a pool punching great white sharks in the face. Meanwhile, Sister Luke has started praying for investigators and less-actives in her sleep. You can see who the more consecrated companion is. I'll let you know when she gets translated. ;)
This has been SUCH an awesome week!! Stefanie was baptized yesterday, right after church! She has taught me a lot about the importance of member missionary work. Her boyfriend, Holden, started sharing his beliefs and answering her questions before they were even dating, he came to almost every lesson, and yesterday he got to baptize her. He got to see her progress from believing that religion was a crutch to accepting Christ's gospel as the way to lasting happiness. I'm catching the vision of members being the full-time finders and missionaries being the full-time teachers! When the work is done that way, testimonies flourish. No wonder they stress that in General Conference. :)
DJ is continuing to make amazing changes in her life. She's a testimony to me that happiness, inner peace, and healing are available to anyone who accepts the Gospel. She told us that for the first time in years, she feels happy and loved, she wants to help people, she can sleep through the night, etc etc. Why? Because she's been reading, praying, coming to church, keeping the Word of Wisdom and repenting daily. And talk about change-- on Sunday she wore a dress for the first time in her life! She bore her testimony, too. She is such a hilarious delight. Her not-so-quiet laugh resonating through the chapel is exactly the addition this ward needs. XD I know that she's someone that I came here to meet!
Someone new we are teaching this week-- Akeem! Oh my gosh he's the coolest investigator ever! He's from the Bronx, and Don is from Compton, so they've basically become best friends forever. I'm glad Don has this opportunity to really be a mentor in the gospel for somebody. The success
happening right now really is because Heavenly Father can trust this ward and the members in it to take new converts under their wings. I'm SO grateful for member missionaries!! They're an example to me!
But seriously, Akeem is so cool-- we asked him to read the first chapter in the Book of Mormon, and he went home and read twelve. "Twelve of 'dem!" And he should be an English teacher, his comprehension was so good. In the most spirit-filled lesson I have ever been in, we set him for baptism and he cried. He is so prepared. :)
We had exchanges on Tuesday and they made me sooo nervous for transfers next week... *fhooo* *whoo* *fhooo* *whooo* Sister Luke has been here 7 months so she's probably good as gone. *cries* Sister Luke is my person. We work well together, she makes me laugh and we help each other have fun and be obedient... really, she's become one of my very best friends! But of course we both have learning and growing to do, so we can't stay together forever... though I wouldn't complain.
Sidetracked. Right, exchanges-- they made me nervous for transfers 'cause it's always a little nerve-wracking to run the area without Sister Luke by my side... Coordinating which member is coming out with us when and remembering things and planning are challenging for me. I always thought I was an organized person, but a mission takes it to the next level! In one day without Sister Luke, I used up more miles than Sister Luke has ever used in a day on her mission. Our area is really big and I haven't quite caught the strategy of planning to conserve mileage. Hopefully my new companion and I aren't on bikes by week 2! ;) Please pray for President Snow that he will be extra-inspired to know who to send to Robindale!!
The Alex Boye fireside was incredible! We took DJ and the recent-convert-gang :) He sang one song and then told his awesome, inspiring, side-splittingly funny conversion story. And I'm so glad that Don was able to come, because it was perfect for him. He's been struggling with understanding why life after baptism is still hard, and how he might balance his dream of a music career with living the Gospel. Alex Boye was able to answer both of those questions in ways no one else could! :) As soon as the fireside was over we hurried up with Don so he could meet him. Alex Boye hugged Don, gave him his email address, and told him to send his music! Dream come true for Don!
And it was right after that that I heard Katie call "Sister Browning!!" I'm so glad she sent you that picture :) It was amazing to see her after almost two years! It made my heart so happy to have a hug from her!
Funny story of the week: An older lady that we're teaching for the Elders gave us some cute frilly underwear as a gift. Thank you? Haha.
Mom, I'm so glad Derek wrote you! To answer your question, that's something Sister Luke came up with. I hadn't thought about that, though-- it is a great opportunity for the new convert to bear their testimony and to hear yours as well. Hopefully you'll hear from Stefanie soon :)
And to answer your other question, Sister Luke and I do get a lot of pats-on-the-back and we really, really do our best to re-direct the praise where it belongs. I can't take credit for anyone'sconversion and neither can Sister Luke! All the amazing things happening in this area are really because of Heavenly Father. I'm just grateful that He handed me a little shovel and let me do some of the digging in this particular part of the vineyard. As a missionary I hardly know what I'm doing and I'd never know the right thing to say or do without Him, so I know without a doubt that He guides and directs us as long as we're obedient! I'm just so so so grateful.
I absolutely love this mission. It's like having a front-row ticket to watching people's lives change through the Atonement-- including and especially mine! I feel like I've changed a lot in the past three months and I know I have so much growing to do. I have the chance to experience, like Alma and the sons of Mosiah, the inexpressible joy of sharing the Gospel. It's the best feeling in the world! Thanks everybody for your emails and letters and prayers and support :)
Lots of love,
P.S: Normally the internet gives us fits whenever it's windy outside, but we said a prayer before we emailed and it's been lightning-quick and reliable. Prayer works! :)
So in the pictures Stefanie looks a tad uncomfortable with all of our love... She likes it. Deep down. ;) But we were just really excited to finally be able to hug an investigator. Haha