Monday, February 23, 2015

Elder Christofferson Comes to Visit!!

HELLO!  This week in the Carolina's has been a good one filled with lessons, sun, rain, freezing wind, humid balmy afternoons, cupcakes, an Apostle of the Lord, homemade tortillas, cancelled activities due to weather, hospital blankets, Greek food, a flooded church building, Chinese New Year, and ding-dong-ditching. Yes.  Quite the week.

On Tuesday we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned our little apartment.  Who knew you could spend hours in a little place with only 3 rooms!  But that was deep clean day, so it had to be done.  Luckily we didn't find any cockroaches which love to come in the apartments during winter time and hide out.  Gross.  That day was really windy and cold and school in the area had a 2 hour late start.

This whole week the local schools were either on delay time, or cancelled all together.  I wonder what they would do if they moved to Utah or Rexburg, haha :)  But since the weather was 'bad' Institute and all other activities for the next few days at the church were cancelled.

On Wednesday after district meeting Sister Jones and I were in the kitchen (hovering over the stove tops trying to get warm as usual because our church is an ICE CHEST) Sister McDonald our senior missionary walks by.  She stops to chat with us and thanked Sister Jones for the nice closing prayer she had just given.  Then she continues and blows our minds: "You know, I have a feeling that the person you are now is very different than what you were before you came out on your mission.  You learned how much the gospel really means to you and needed that conversion to move forward with your life."  (directed to sister Jones). Then she turns and looks at me and says, "Sister Golden.  You were so ready when you came out.  You didn't need training or a testimony of the gospel.  That you already had.  The reason you came on a mission was to learn how to love."  The hit me dead in the chest.  She had been able to look into my eyes, discern some of my deepest feelings, and tell me spot on what she thought I had learned and gained since being in Jacksonville.  I was pretty much speechless, then teared up, then hugged her.  After all, she was right.  I had come out with a thick wall around my heart, and was ready to fake my emotions with those I was going to come into contact with.  But the Lord and the Atonement are REAL.  I have been changed.  With the broken heart I came out with, the power and reality of our Savior and His sacrifice for us, I have been able to learn how to love, trust, and open up again.

That night, the temperatures were supposed to drop.  And this sweet family we had dinner with the night before heard that our thermostat was being glitchy and we were waking up to a 64 degree morning in the apartment!

So they asked us to meet them at a local gas station, and gave us 2 white blankets that they had gotten from a hospital some time back.  They were pretty thick and warm!  Sister Jones wears hers around like a little shawl and puts it on her lap in the car when we drive, haha.  But hey, they work!

Thursday we went to that really good Greek restaurant again!  Santorini Grill!

It is so so good and the food is made fresh every day.  So that means their menu changes during the week.  The Cunningham's are so cute and they love going out with us :)  We love them as well, so it just happens to work out. Since they are such a frequent customer, and they brought the 'girls' (us) Georgio took care of our lunch for us and said it was on the house.  So nice!

Friday was an EARLY morning, holy cow.  We woke up at 3:45, left the house at 4:25, got to the church, and left with Ryan and Brooke to head to Raleigh around 4:45-5 ish in the morning.

We wore sweats in the car so we could sleep better and not ruin our church clothes.  So when we pulled over to get gas, we decided to go in and change before we got to the church building and heaven forbid let anyone see us and the state we were in.  Good thing the gas station bathroom door didn't lock, nor have a working light, haha.  That was fun, getting dressed in the dark holding the door shut.
We got to the church and sat by Zones in the Chapel.  At 8:30 Elder Christofferson, his wife, Elder Soares of the 70 and Elder Parker entered the building.  When they walked through the door, everyone turned to look at them.  It was amazing the spirit they brought into the room.  We were able to get a picture with them as a mission, then as we exited the gym we got to shake all of their hands.

When I shook Elder Christofferson's hand, he smiled and looked into my eyes and said, "Hello Sister Golden, it's so nice to meet you."  I was SO thrilled!  Then we were privileged to sit through 5 wonderful talks and instructions by each.  It was an amazing experience.  Elder Christofferson was funny, personable and bashful.  As he would make a joke he would kind of smile in a giddy way and let out one chuckle like he was shy.  It was so cute.  He became a real man to me in that moment.

Elder Christofferson started by carrying the theme introduced by Sister Christofferson from 2 Kings Chapter 4 about the widow with debt who was told by the prophet Elisha to gather or borrow all the vessels she could, which would then be filled with oil by the power of the Lord to be able to be sold to relieve her debts. Elder Christofferson said that the Lord is prepared to give us what we are prepared to receive. He also mentioned several times not to ask for those things that we were not ready to receive or that we are not willing to do. However, if we do ask for things: people to teach, service to do, weaknesses to overcome; and if we do it with “real intent” and with all our “heart, might mind and strength,” He will fill our vessels.

-Prayer, Fasting and Scripture reading to receive the Spirit of Revelation and Prophesy. (Alma 17:2-3). The Spirit of Revelation: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.” D&C 8:2,3).  “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy. And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.” (D&C 11:12-14) The Spirit of Prophesy “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10). See also Alma 5:45-47

-Missions are apostolic callings with the Senior Apostle (President Monson), who holds all of the keys, issuing our call to be a missionary.
-Does the Spirit accompany my teaching? How to obtain the Spirit? Submit our will to His (example Jesus Christ). Testify of the Savior (2 Nephi 9:6-10; D&C 19:16-19). Sacrifice. Give the Lord all that you are and all that you have. Be Thankful for specific blessings (which you should be observing: “Count your Blessings”). At times, slow down your prayers and listen for directions.
How do we forgive ourselves when we come up short? (Question posed by a missionary). We should learn from our mistakes, but not let them impede us from advancing (focus on making weak things strong through humility and the atonement, Ether 12:27 and not “beating ourselves up” Moroni 7:12,16,17). “How do you think Peter lived after denying Christ three times? He became the ‘Fearless’ Peter, indicating that the stain of guilt was gone.”

I am so grateful for that experience and will never forget it.
His closing statement will stay with me forever.  He said "This is ALL real.  And YOU are His."

To make the day even better, we were able to go over to the Benson's for dinner that night and have a Chinese feast! They were celebrating Chinese New Year and had been cooking home-made authentic chinese food since the night before!  It was SO good.  We got to participate in a few traditions and learn some Chinese sayings after dinner while eating mango pudding haha.  Sister Benson is from Hong Kong, and her husbands family grew up there for a time. They are so amazing!

Saturday was a good day as well.  We took some sisters out with us to visit some families in the ward we think they would get along with.  It was great because now those families have plans to do dinner together this next week!  Yay :)  That night at our dinner appointment (which we also successfully invited a less active sister to) we were given 15 banana muffins that were all decorated differently!  Coconut glaze on one, butter cream on another etc.  We had no idea what to do with we went around to the young marine wives that lived nearby and handed them out like it was Christmas.  They all enjoyed that!

We got a call later that night from the Bishop saying that church the next day would only be one hour.  WHAT? Well he said that one of the pipes in the church froze, and burst and had flooded the whole back half of the church.  The fire department was sucking out the water and fans were currently all over the church trying to get it to dry.  It was pretty crazy!  Our day was super funky after that because of it.  But we made do!
For dinner that night we got to help make authentic black bean burritos and squish them out on a little tortilla maker!  It was so fun and OH SO GOOD.  We probably ate so many of those tortillas.  I am gathering a lot of recipes out here...just none of them 'southern' haha. Go figure.  I have more mexican food ideas than I do southern :)  Oh well!

After dinner we wanted to go visit our Relief Society President since her husband is back from deployment.  We still don't really know our way around base because it is like a maze, but we pulled up to the house and walked to the front door.  Since she had taken the decorations down, the house looked like all the other ones on the street and we started second guessing ourselves as to whether or not this was her house!  So after ringing the doorbell there was a moment of sheer panic, us running down the steps, realizing that was probably stupid, running back up the steps, taking off our name-badge just in case it wasn't them (we aren't allowed to wear our name tags on base) and hoped for the best.  Luckily when the door was opened it was our RS president and all was well :)

I hope you have had a good week as well!  I love you all so much and hope that you are succeeding at everything you are doing at this point in time.  Happy Birthday to Camryn tomorrow as well :)
Take a balloon out there for me and wish her a happy birthday.
We are so lucky to have that little angel in our family and to be sealed to her.
Love you all immensely!!!
Mallory :)

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