Well I feel bad about complaining about the cold if it's 1 degree in Rigby! It's dropped down to 40 here in Kingman and Sis Martin and I are two little popsicles. I've gotten soft out here. It's the coldest part of the mission but I can handle it ;) Mom, I got both packages on Saturday-- the one with my gray coat and the one with the blue. Thank you for sending those! It's just nice to see something from home, and putting on those old coats feels like a familiar hug. :)
First off, I need to answer your questions from last week that I forgot to answer! What am I eating? Meat 'n potatoes. I've had it 7 times, to be exact. I'm not complaining, because it's delicious, but it's like Sunday dinner every dinner ;) This ward keeps us well fed! I'm still doing green smoothies in the morning-- or sometimes oatmeal, because I'm cold-- and usually sandwiches or tortillas for lunch-- or soup, because I'm cold. :)
What am I doing for exercise? ...*sigh*... We're pretty limited out here. I miss running. If it were up to me, I'd run every day, but the cold weather is really hard on Sis Martin, being from Mexico City. So occasionally she bundles up and we run laps around a little gopher-hole-filled field behind our apartment, but I don't want Sis Martin to get sick again like she did a few weeks ago. We can't ride bikes either, because mine is still back in Robindale, and Sis Martin doesn't have a bike at all. Usually I just exercise in the apartment. Do you have any suggestions on what else I can do?? With daylight hours getting shorter and shorter I'm sure feeling the need for more exercise.
You also asked to hear more about my investigators, here's a few key people we're working with right now:
Carlos, basically the coolest New Yorker ever. He has two little adorable kids and is probably the next bishop. He's got a super strong testimony and is willing to live the Gospel to the fullest-- the only problem is church. We can't seem to find a way for him to get work off. :/ Pray for him!!
Margot, a sweet older lady whose husband was baptized a few months ago. She has the opposite problem of Carlos-- comes to church each Sunday but just doesn't know if baptism is for her yet. She doesn't want to feel pressured. We know she will get there. We are just praying to know how to help her.
Brock is a lot like Margot, if Margot were a 30-something year old elementary school teacher with a hilarious witty sense of humor. He's dating one of our members-- who is also an elementary school teacher, awwww-- and ever so slowly progressing. Same as Margot, doesn't want to feel pressured.
Nicole and Brittney are Bishop Tinnel's preteen granddaughters, and they have the most vibrant testimonies! Please pray that their parents hearts will be softened.
Lita is a spunky 8 year old girl who comes from a less active family-- she is an incredible dancer and she's also blind. We're gonna try some different methods of teaching this week to help her really understand and have her own testimony of the Gospel, and hopefully get her family more involved as well.
We met a few amazing new people this week-- a 16 year old girl named Xonia, who went to Meet the Mormons with a friend and now wants to be baptized!! We sat outside at a park bench in the wind yesterday and had a spirit-filled first lesson where she cried and bore her testimony of the power of prayer. Wow. Heavenly Father has really been preparing her for a long time. Hopefully she'll be baptized on!
We also met a 8 year old girl named Delaney, whose family are all less active members who want to come back to church. After Sister Martin recited Joseph Smith's first vision, Delaney started to cry, and her mom started to cry, and bore a powerful testimony that she's always known these things are true but that she'd forgotten. They're going to start reading the Book of Mormon as a family, and hopefully we'll be able to help them return to full activity in the church!!
I went on exchanges with Sis Hutchinson to Lake Havasu on Wednesday, and the whole exchange was a confirmation to me that Heavenly Father knows where we need to be. Sis Hutchinson is amazing, super hilarious and real. She and I are the only newly-transferred sisters in the zone, and she's gone through lots of things on her mission that have taught her wisdom and empathy. Sis Hutchinson gave me advice that was exactly what I needed to hear. She warned me to never ever compare myself to other missionaries and banish negative thoughts as soon as they enter my head. And she told me that whenever I wonder if a struggling area is my fault, that's Satan trying to plant a seed in my head, and all he has to do is get me to water that seed and he can limit my effectiveness as a missionary. Well, that simply won't do. So I can't listen to him! :) She taught me so much about the power of faith and optimism. Gotta exercise more of it. :)
Rather than having regular church this Sunday, we had the Phoenix temple dedication! It was beautiful and the talks were amazing. If only I had packed a white handkerchief with me on my mission. ;) It was a little weird to tell all the investigators, "no, there's no church this Sunday..." But it opened up the door to talk about temples, which is great!
Dad, it's funny you mention it- DJ and I were joking on the way to her baptism about the idea of her getting baptized in her mermaid tail! Sunday afternoon, Sabrina, Dianna, DJ, Michael, and Derek all drove down in a minivan to Kingman, stopped in Black Mountain to pick up Sister Luke, and took us with them to DJ's baptism. That was a dream come true. Going back to Robindale, seeing all those people I love so much gathered to support DJ, who's been waiting so long to get baptized-- it felt like we'd all died and gone to heaven! Super cool to see Derek get to baptize DJ, too. The love and unity that the YSAs in Robindale have for each other completely blows me away. I felt so motivated to do all I can to help Boulder Springs and White Cliffs become that same kind of ward. Robindale is truly a family, but it wasn't always that way. BS and WC can do it too! :)
One more story. Sometime during the week, we knocked on the door of a potential, Marsha, who invited us in. She turned out to be a former member who'd left the church 30 years ago. She was genuinely concerned for us and asked us to stop reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible for a month, and "only read history, and see what a difference it makes." She had so much doubt & anger & frustration and I felt so bad for her! All I could think was... Why would I do that? Asking me to stop studying the scriptures would be like asking a person on oxygen to turn off the tank and see if they can breathe easier. Meeting her was a confirmation to me that I do have a deep, grounded testimony that I know for myself that everything I've believed since I was a toddler is true. It was a fulfillment also of all the things they talked about at General Conference last month. She fulfilled Elder Anderson's words that Joseph Smith would be attacked from all sides, but if we had our own testimony of him, "the constant volleying of water balloons from the sidelines may get us wet, but they can never extinguish your fire of faith." And she fulfilled Elder Uchtdorf's words, that if we use the instruments God has given us we'll grow in light and truth but "if we remove ourselves from the light of the Gospel, our own light begins to dim-- until we look back and can't quite understand why we ever believed the Gospel was true."
Dad, what you said in your email reminded me of Marsha-- "Of course there are those who seek to avoid light and truth. You must not let them influence you or make you feel discouraged and afraid." It was frustrating to hear her voice complaints that we knew we had the answers to, knowing that all we could do was testify and walk out the door. But Sis Martin and I have thought about it several times since, as it made a lasting impression on us. Thank you, Marsha, for unknowingly doubling my faith in what I already knew to be true!
Favorite missionary scripture right now: 2 Nephi 2:8. "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah."
Sending pictures from the baptism and Pday last week. (Excuse my companion, she's basically a model.) ;)
I love you all!