Hi Family that I love so much!
Yes, I do feel so blessed to stay in this dream ward! I love it with my whole heart! It doesn't feel the same without Sister Luke... I miss her a ton, and so does the ward. But I'm learning that a mission is too short to stay in places that don't make you grow very much. I've got to get as much out of these 18 months as I can! In church yesterday a high councilman said, "We don't come on missions to miss things, we come to do things. We don't come here to be served, we come to serve." Thank you, Mr. High Councilman. That message was for me.
Sister Smith is a fireball! (Not the same Sister Smith you met in Laurie & Kevin's ward.) She came from Royal Mesa, our next-door-neighbor single's ward. So we already knew each other! We taught institute together once and we have lots of mutual member friends. The transfers been an adjustment for both of us, but we're helping each other to laugh and have fun through it. Sister Smith's been out 6 months and this is her second area, but she seems a lot more experienced than that. She's super good at being bold with our investigators so we balance each other well. Couldn't do it without her!
We're doing our best to keep the work going and the ward strong. Sweet story-- DJ has been working extremely long days,, and she's been so worn out. While she was at work on Friday, Sister Smith and I heart-attacked her apartment door. That night, she sent us this text: "I got home at and burst into tears. I love you girls so much! Thank you for making my day worth it. It's stuff like this that makes my life meaningful. You will never really understand how much you mean to me." Little does she know that she is making the difference for us. It's such a blessing to know people like her!
Akeem is still doing great and progressing to his baptism date. We got to meet his mom last night and they're like the same person-- sweet, smart, and quietly confident. There's never a dry eye in a lesson with Akeem. We often teach him at the mission office and the office ladies l.o.v.e him. Our vehicle coordinator, Sister Brewster, even volunteered to bring a cake to his baptism. He has been through a lot, and you can just feel the sincerity in his testimony and desire to follow Christ. I'm learning so much from him.
We're teaching a couple other trickier people like Johnny and Mike that are willing to listen but don't want to change. Mike's a riot-- he's from Idaho, but seems more like a California dude, always saying "man" and "dude" and making friends with everybody. He invited us and a couple members to go to lunch with him, but has no desire to come to church or be invited to activities. Whaaa?? To each his own, I guess. Haha. When we taught him the plan of salvation, we knew he knew it was true, but I think he's afraid of what it would mean to his lifestyle if it were true. That's the tricky thing about YSAs-- they recognize truth so quickly, but sometimes they don't want to change.
With Johnny, we're taking baby steps. He's coming to church and Institute and inching along. I told Sister Luke I wouldn't leave this area until he was set for baptism. :)
We met a girl on Saturday named Sabrina who is so super prepared!! At another ward's baptism, she told us that she feels like God has been nudging her in the church's direction and that she's ready to take the lessons. We'll start teaching her tomorrow! She came with us to the Why I Believe fireside last night, and afterwards she said "I loved every minute of it! Tuesday at 3 can't come fast enough!"
Funny story of the week: Last night before bed, Sister Smith said, "Goodnight, Sister Luke!" Hahaha, well I'll take it as a big compliment :)
Mom, I was so sad to hear about Keenan's passing. But hearing that story about Jaden, you're right, he's serving a new mission now. Unrestricted by pain or disability :) Tell his family I love them and they're in my prayers :)
I loved hearing about your missionary experience with the less active sister! Sometimes the most important thing you can do is be an example of kindness to those lost sheep, and never ever give up on them, because the Savior wouldn't! Keep those stories coming! :)
Out of time to send pictures but I'll send 'em next week.
Lots of Love,