Hello to you all! I am so glad that Christmas is over! It was a stressful time of year for me! Now that New Years is coming up things should be picking up speed:) The week prior to Christmas day was pretty slow just because so many people went out of town (military -_-). But on the 24th some pretty heavy rain hit NC and FLOODED the area. All the roads were tire high with water and it started blowing wind and a few homes lost power. It was crazy.
Christmas morning the missionaries put on a breakfast for the marines and any families who had to stay here for Christmas. An assortment of Casseroles, cinnamon buns, fruit, pancakes and hot chocolate were served. It was fun and about 30 people showed up. We showed a short nativity clip and played a few games after everyone was done eating.
For lunch we went over to the Benson's house. All the boys in the family went and played soccer (so not fair, I miss it so much) and my companion and I stayed with Sister Benson and cleaned up the house, laid out food, and looked through her wedding albums. She is a phenomenal photographer and I try and pick her brain about it as much as I can:) I love photography as well. When all the boys got back we ate and packed up to go to.... THE BEACH! Yes, the beach on Christmas:)
It was sunny and a nice temperature outside, so the only thing to do of course was to go polar dipping in the ocean says the Benson's... I'm glad I could only watch. I don't enjoy cold water very much! We watched them all play rugby down the beach, and then went shark tooth hunting. You can find some good ones if you really look!
We headed to another families home in the ward for dinner. The Letteers are one of my favorite families here. They are both returned missionaries from Brazil and are both extremely interested in working out and healthy eating- we get along SO well. We had a yummy dinner and visited with their parents who came to town.
We played Pictionary, and saw every single toy the kids got for Christmas... we had to humor them:) After this the kids were put to bed and it was SKYPE TIME. I heard Brother Letteer talking to Gretchen on the phone trying to set up a time for us to coordinate. And since that moment I couldn't stop shaking, sweating or tearing up. When I logged onto skype and called the family I saw Gretchen (because the rest of my family wasn't present for some reason;)) and just CRIED.
I had to let out all the nerves I had been holding in all day. It was so great to see them all. I was nervous to even see them because I had been so homesick previous to that. But seeing them only encouraged me and gave me a new drive to work hard and effectively. I brought my box of Christmas gifts they so kindly sent me and opened it with them to pretend I was there as well and sharing that special moment:)
After skyping we sat in the living room and talked with the Letteers about their memories of the mission and calling home. It helped us calm down and get prepared for the drive home which is about 20 minutes. It truly was an amazing day and I was so blessed to have spent it with such wonderful families. The Lord placed me in this area for a reason:)
The next day I was REALLY SICK. I had been sick the day before and day of Christmas and was not feeling well. But the day after was definitely the worst. I had to take a nap for a few hours- and luckily it was weekly planning day so we were at the apartment all day. I had to take some medicine and take a break from working out for a few days. The lady whose house we went to for dinner that night was a Navy Nurse and she gave me a few medicines and tissues and other fun things only a nurse has. I sounded so bad, haha.
Prayers are answered!
So last week we had really been praying for people to find that we could teach because we just had no investigators. On Saturday we went to downtown Swansboro right by where we live and tracted around. We ended up getting 13 referrals that day from people we came into contact with! We immediately went and contacted them, got 1 return appointment in, and got 5 other lessons from it. I knew that Heavenly Father answered prayers, but this was so specific I couldn't help but feel that He does listen to ME personally. He did bless Sister Jones and I this week. When we went to go contact those referrals, they all happened to be relatives who all lived in trailers down one dirty dusty windy road.
|Little Weiner Puppies!|
I am a cautious person by nature so I wondered whether we even should go down it by ourselves. But luckily I have a confident and devoted companion who fears nothing and no one and marched us down this road. The people were all very southern and unique. One of them even honored me by being my FIRST door slam! :D It actually happens! She saw the Book of Mormon in our hands and looked us in the eye, frowned, shook her head, and said very firmly, "NO." And *whoosh* pushes the door closed. I was appalled at the rudeness of it all, but just laughed because I know that is not how I would respond to two nice young girls smiling on my doorstep. Whatever!
That night we had some fajitas at the Searls home and enjoyed listening to their two young boys jabbering about all the neat things Santa brought them. Sister Searls came with us to go visit a young couple in our ward that don't come to church very often but are active...it's weird. We show up at their home and there are actually 6 people there in all. The couple we went to go see has two best friend couples that are also in our ward and they were all having a fun date night and just hanging out. It was odd...they are all in my age range (20's) and when I walked in and sat down I had a yearning to be a part of that group that night. I wanted to be married, sitting around a living room, not worrying about missionaries stressors, and just relaxing next to what would hopefully be a prince charming. But then the spirit chastised my unconsecrated thoughts, and I told myself to be grateful where I was! There are so many young couples in my ward, and when I first came out I really struggled with that. I wanted to be them and have the life they were living. But over a period of time and learning I have come to the realization that I have not yet reached the potential I have and can offer to a spouse. Heavenly Father is giving me this period of 18 months to become refined, and more committed to my spiritual values. I want to be the wife my future husband deserves and needs, and I know that that would not have happened if I had stayed home and gotten married.
On Sunday my companion and I got to teach a lesson to a sweet mother of 3 girls. We had gone out on exchanges with Sister Tumanuvao in our ward (also a returned missionary herself) and had dinner at her home afterwards. She had invited their good friends and we shared a short message after dinner.
We continued to talk with this friend and she ended up asking us the GOLDEN question of, "I just don't understand how there are so many churches if we are all on the same team and have the same goal." and then she goes on, "why is it that we are here on this earth?" WHOA.
|Tumanuvao Family and Friends|
In my head I am thinking to myself, 'we have all the answers... this church IS true... everything she just asked I have been privileged to know my whole life.' My own testimony grew in that moment. We ended up teaching her the Restoration and not a dry eye was left when we finished. She said she had so much more respect for Mormons in general as well as us missionaries and said she would come to church to check it out. This is HUGE because she told us earlier that she was a devout Baptist. Usually, that is pretty scary when someone tells you that. Haha.
But the spirit was SO strong in that home and the Lord really prompted us to answer in the ways that we did so that her fears and uncertainties were answered without us even knowing it. It is truly amazing.
Today my companion and I went down to Historic Swansboro and walked around all the little gift shops. It's very similar to Gig Harbor and it was even rainy today:) We roamed in the little gift shops, walked the docks, and avoided the ducks. Then we did the other menial chores that come on “Preparation Day” such as laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping. I always look forward to Mondays- even though back home I hated them! It is a much needed break in my week.
I hope you are doing well and know that I love you so much!
<3 Sister Golden