So this weekend was a pretty busy one for us. We had to be in Jacksonville at 7:30 am for the Holiday Parade! The ward made a float and all of us missionaries walked beside it the whole parade. The manger, Mary and Joseph + Baby Jesus, wise men, and angels were all on it waving and saying Merry Christmas. Before the parade started, our float was missing Mary and Joseph and they needed someone to step in and act in their place for the judges. Well I was chosen as well as one of the Elders! Everyone told me I made for a great Mary and looked just like her! Haha. It was fun. The extra layers from the costume kept me a lot warmer- it was around 35 degrees out and the sun was hidden behind the trees! Not the most ideal!
While we were walking in the parade we got a lot of great responses from the crowd - in past years there have been no religious floats or anything surrounding Christ at all in the Holiday parade. We got a lot of, "Praise God! I like 'dat! Keep Jesus in Christmas!" or "Yeah, that's right! Ya'll got the right idea!" So we were kind of a hit with the religious people of the community:)
A few hours later we had a baptism for Ryan (Brooke's husband). This has been the most spiritual baptism I have had on my mission so far...well, all 2.5 months of it. The speakers all brought such a strong spirit and the musical number brought everyone to tears. The Bishop closed with a powerful testimony and you could feel the love in the room that everyone had for Brooke and Ryan. The next day at church they bore their testimonies in Sunday School and thanked everyone for being such a significant part in their lives. The gospel is truly working on them and changing them in front of my eyes. It is an amazing thing to see and to be a part of. They are a prime couple and are already making plans to go be sealed in the temple in a year. They already told me that they would wait until February of 2016 when I get off my mission because they want me there :)
A fun service activity we did this week was something similar to 'heart attacking' some member's front doors. We made a bunch of gratitude notes and stuck them to the door of two members and rang the doorbell and ran. We had a young wife (whose husband is away at training with the Marines) help us make them, then deliver them. It was great for her because she has been a convert for less than a year, and she is meeting more people when she comes out with us. She took us to Mexican food for dinner and then we watched the movie The Testaments at her home for a lesson. This movie is really good and I suggest you watch it if you haven't seen it!
On Sunday we went onto Base to try and go meet with a few Less active members of the ward. I felt impressed we should go see a young family that is pretty active, but the husband doesn't come a lot because he works the Saturday night graveyard shift at the Naval Hospital. They were on our back up list in case the other families weren't home, but as we were driving down their street I said, "We need to go see the Benson's!" I had no clue why...but we went in and talked with Sister Benson for a good hour about many things. She is 7 months pregnant and has been having a lot of fatigue during this pregnancy. Her 18 month old daughter was with us and keeping us all entertained, but Brother Benson was upstairs probably sleeping, so she had to keep an eye on her daughter. After we left, Sister Benson texted us that night and said, "Thanks so much for stopping by. It's simple, but I believe that Heavenly Father does send angels in our lives at a certain time!" She had obviously needed some company and some people to talk to, so it's good that we followed the impression and stopped by. You never know who needs something, even those we consider strong members.
So after dinner this week with one of the members, I was trying to be helpful and put the salad dressing away. I stuck it in the shelf that is on the door of the fridge, and something weird happened! The whole shelf FLEW out of the fridge and the contents went everywhere! Good thing they were all just bottles and condiments, nothing glass. But I was mortified! I couldn't believe it. I was embarrassed because just a few minutes earlier I accidentally knocked over the soy sauce and it spilled on my place mat. Everyone was teasing me and said they didn't know I had a clumsy side. I am not usually clumsy, but I reevaluated this thought after dumping the popcorn onto my lap during the movie while I was trying to make room for the dog who was trying to get down off the couch. It was just one of those days I guess. Awkward.
The weather has been real funky this week. One day its in the 30's, then it's all windy and gross the next day but in the 50's, and then you get days like today where it rains and it gets humid and jumps into the 60's! I just don't get it. But I am glad it hasn't snowed here. If I were at school in Rexburg it would be in the negatives and snowing everyday. So I need to count my blessings I guess!
This week I learned how to Crochet! And no. It is NOT easy. And yes. I did get very grumpy. I didn't get very far and Mellisa kept having to come over and remind me what the next step was. I have short term memory loss when it comes to needles and thread. I am trying to make an ear warmer head band, but it looks more like...a small square of fuzzy yarn. Not very becoming. I don't know if crocheting will become a hobby of mine; but you never know!
Good news! We got our tire fixed. There was a nail in it and we just hadn't been able to see it I guess. We took it to Good Year and had them pull it out and pump it back up for us. Now we don't have to have Brother Cunningham pump it up every Wednesday night! Even though he was so happy to help:) We were able to go over to his house this week to try and work on family history. But it was frustrating for me. I don't know where I put my pedigree chart, and I can't remember anyone's birthdays, or the names of my great grandparents. I didn't get very far because of this and was super bummed because my companion is already back in the 1500's with her family just from going those 2 days. So I was sitting and talking with sister Cunningham about it and she saw little tears in my eyes and was consoling me and telling me it's okay that I will get it done soon! She has a whole room full of binders with her family history and all the important documents for them. They are so amazing at it. They are our “safe house” which means that if there is ever a storm and we are told to leave, we go to their home for safe keeping. I told them I was praying for a storm so that we could come over for a full day and I could just look at all of their family history and whack out some of mine! They just laughed. But we ARE going to their house for dinner on Thanksgiving;)
I think that the Lord places us in the right place and the right time to either be of comfort for others, or to answer someone else's prayers. This week we had to go to Ace Hardware to make a copy of our house key for our mission home, and had decided to go to the library later after cleaning the apartment for check ups. Well, we are driving down the road and are coming to the stop light before our turn. I felt like we should just go to the library then, because we were out and about and it just made more sense to go now rather than later. So I told this to my companion and we continued on down to the library to do some FB proselyting. When we got there, we ran into Sister Giltner, an older single lady in our ward that is struggling financially right now. She saw us and came over to chat for a minute. Then she stopped, looked directly at me, and said, "Can I just have a big hug?" Of course I asked no questions and threw my arms around her and squeezed her tight. After a bit we released and she told us of the challenges she is currently facing. She may be losing her trailer, she doesn't have much money left and has been using her savings fund, she has had to borrow a members car, and her kids are ignoring her. We mostly just listened to her and I gave her some ideas on where to go to apply for a job since she doesn't have one now. Before she left she whispered to me and said, "you were an answer to my prayers today, thank you." It was touching, and it has been reaffirmed to me that we must always listen to promptings.
With it being close to Thanksgiving, I have a small quote from President Uchtdorf in the April 2014 conference. He said “It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation.” (April ’14 Gen. Conference ‘Grateful in any circumstances’) Let us all remember to be grateful for where we are at in life right now!
I love you all so much and hope you have a great weekend with the family:)
I miss you!
Love, sister Mallory Golden