Transfers are upon us again! Sister Martin is leaving and I'm staying here with a sister by the name of Fotheringhame. Maybe she's British? Guess I'll find out tomorrow :) In other transfer news, Sister Luke is going to be the new Mission STL (or sister AP). I am not even the slightest bit surprised! She's one of the most loving, life-changing leaders this mission has ever had :)
We worked so incredibly hard this week-- really sprinted to the end of the transfer. Xonya cancelled her baptism and we've had to stop teaching her because she's not ready yet. It broke our hearts. But she still knows it's true, and she'll be back! Meanwhile, we've started teaching her next door neighbor, a sweet teenage girl named Abby whose grandma is a less active member. She's gaining a very sweet, pure testimony of the gospel. :)
Working with two wards this transfer has been an interesting challenge. It's a little like juggling! :) 2 bishoprics, 2 ward councils, 2 sacrament meetings, 2 sets of investigators, 2 sets of members, 2 dinner calendars, 2 ward mission leaders. Double the fun!! I've finally got the hang of who is who and where everything is, so I'll feel a lot more confident in this coming transfer :)
One of our wards, White Cliffs, is doing really well... and the other is really struggling. We had to drop several of our investigators in Boulder Springs and our teaching pool has dwindled away to almost nothing. We have been fasting and praying for Boulder Springs, setting goals and plans and street contacting and inspired knocking and working with members and asking for referrals like our lives depend on it. I'm learning so much from having this ward where we have to throw ourselves into finding and work from the ground up. I'm excited to see what ideas Sis Fotheringhame has to get things going for Boulder Springs.
You remember Carlos, our golden investigator [White Cliffs] who's not been able to come to church for 2 months? Well, we had a miracle this week. His boss has given him all Sundays off for at least the next 6 weeks, and then at least every other week after that. There have been a lot of prayers for him, and Heavenly Father's heard them all :) He and his two adorable kids came to church yesterday and sat in the front, and he jumped bravely up to the pulpit and in his Brooklyn NY accent bore a powerful testimony of the gospel. He is set for baptism on December 27th-- we're so excited for him!! This year, he gets the gift of the Holy Ghost for Christmas. :) And White Cliffs gets a new, strong priesthood holder who I feel certain will be a leader someday.
We have 2 new investigators named Ignacio and Silvia! They came to the Christmas broadcast last night, and Ignacio has great questions about the prophet and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon... according to Sister Martin. Here's the problem: I don't speak Spanish! I sat there like a vegetable in our first lesson, kicking myself for not taking that Spanish class I intended to at BYU. They don't have Spanish wards out here in the valley, so it's Sister F and my responsibility now to make sure that Ignacio and Silvia are taught the gospel! Sis Martin is so sad that she's leaving just as we gain Spanish investigators... and trust me... I am too. :P But thankfully there are lots of members here that are Spanish-speaking return missionaries and hopefully they can help us.
Couple funny stories for you. Funny story #1: We were street contacting this nicer neighborhood and met an old lady who pointed us in the direction of her daughter's house down the street. Just as we're walking up to the house the garage door opens and 2 big friendly dogs come bounding out, followed by this put-together, classy-looking, nurse practitioner lady. While we were standing there answering her questions, thisHUGE PIG appears in the doorway into the house and walks into the garage. I'm talking HUGE. Just emerges like a kraken from the deep. Its stomach was so big it was dragging on the floor and its eyes were sunk into its massive head... the woman, Mary Lee, goes "oh, that's my pet pot-bellied pig!" The pig lives in her house. I was so surprised I started laughing. During the course of our conversation with Mary Lee the pig got jealous and knocked over a card table with its face, and also peed in the corner of the garage. We have a return appointment, so we will probably see the pig again.
Funny thing #2: I finally have a funny dinner appointment story. There's a woman named Victoria who has come to church for years but is pretty hostile, typically, to missionaries. The woman who coordinates our dinners called her, on accident, and Victoria said, "well sure I'll feed em!" We show up, a little nervous, and find that her entire house is full of smoke. Apparently she burned the garlic bread. Reeeallly bad. So we got all the windows and doors open and left them that way the whole time.. The smoke finally cleared about 40 minutes later. Meanwhile, we're nibbling around the inch-thick char on the garlic bread and hearing stories about Victoria's life and the Native American heritage she claims. "The thing about me," she says, "is that I have a southern accent." Apparently she picked it up after 2 years in Texas and just can't get rid of it. She didn't have any accent before the story, and after the story she spoke with the thickest southern drawl I've ever heard. I was just like wait... what? So we finish eating and we've both had seconds at her command and I go back into the kitchen to clear the dishes and notice lots of little bugs scatter across the counter as I set down the plates. *freeze* *process* *gag* Poor Sis Martin was pretty sick the next day. But we're still laughing about it!
Picture 1 is us with one of our favorite families, the Pease's, when we stopped by so Sis Martin could say goodbye. They are the champions. The most missionary-minded family ever! :)
Picture 2 is from Lita's baptism. It's been such a privilege teaching Lita and helping her family to return to activity in the church. She has not had an easy life and being blind has special challenges that I've never faced. Bishop told us that he's never felt the spirit so strongly in an interview with a child of record. In his welcome to the ward talk, he said, "It's not often that I find myself crying in a meeting with a small child. I knew Heavenly Father was sitting next to her, saying, 'This is my child, and I love her, and I want her to be baptized.' " She really has one of the strongest spirits I've ever felt!
Love, Sister B