This week ended up being one of the better ones I have had on my mission so far:) Why? Well I will tell you:)
After an AWFUL, awful preparation day last Monday, luckily things started to look up. (Life will always be a roller-coaster I need to remind myself...)
Tuesday held nice enough weather that we were able to go running outside that morning for our 30 minutes of exercise! I can definitely tell that I haven't been exercising like I used to, haha. But that is one of the sacrifices of being a consecrated missionary I guess. Just no judgements when I get home please!
That day was full of trying to contact our less actives on a never ending ward roster, but coming up short because no one was home, or they pretended NOT to be home. Little do they know I can hear their footsteps when they walk up to the peep hole in their door. I had to refrain myself from putting my finger over the glass to prevent them from seeing out... but decided against it. We were fed wonderfully that night though! The Juarez family is so great. They arrived here in December and they are both returned missionaries with 2 kids. Sister Juarez served her mission in Brazil and she made us traditional Brazilian food for dinner! It was so good. I wish I could tell you what we ate, but I can't pronounce the foods let alone spell them, haha.
Wednesday was a fun day! We had Zone Training from 8:15-12 in Wilmington (about an hour and a half away from Jacksonville) so it is an early morning for us on those days. But that's okay. I have come to really love Zone Training. I used to get sick thinking about going (new missionary feelings...) but now I receive a lot of revelation and become better friends with my fellow missionaries. Since we are the Sister Training Leaders we were asked to instruct again at this meeting. We had a SUPER good lesson planned out if I do say so myself. It was interactive, original, had relatable scriptures, reference points to Preach My Gospel, and we even used a few pamphlets that the mission gave us, but no one ever looks through. A few people came up to us and said it was their favorite instruction given by a STL in a long time! So that was nice to hear:) After this meeting my companion led the way to South College Deli (a really good sandwich place in Wilmington). She knows all the hot spots to go and eat since she had just previously served there for 7.5 months. The workers there were really intrigued when 8 girls all walked in plus a senior missionary couple...I always think to myself, "If I didn't have this little square piece of black plastic on my shirt no one would pay us any attention." It's crazy how noticed we are out in public. But that is a good thing:) I am getting used to it! But that doesn't make it any more comfortable.
After lunch Sister Jones and I said goodbye for 24 hours and switched companions with the sisters from Wallace. I was able to spend that time with Sister Sonkson in Jacksonville to see how she was doing and try my best to be a good example to her. That is still rather hard for me when she is going home in 2 months, and I have only been out for 5. (YES TODAY IS MY 5 MONTH MARK! I HAVE MADE IT THIS FAR!) But I try my best to hold the responsibility and teach as I go. We were able to have a really successful day. We went out with a sister in our relief society and visited 3 young marine wives who are all married to a non-member. We are their support group basically since they know no one else here in NC. For dinner we were invited over to the Bishop’s home where they made us Cafe Rio style barbacoa pork, beans, rice, and other yummy delightful mexican type food. We enjoyed ourselves ;) I guess in her area she doesn't get fed a lot by members, haha. We are definitely blessed here in Jacksonville.
THAT NIGHT...was a fiasco. We drove home and got to our shady little neighborhood apartment at 9pm. We dragged all of our gear up to the door and I get the keys out to unlock the front door. Well guess what. Maintenance had come, and on their way out locked the dead bolt rather than the door knob lock. WE DON'T OWN A KEY FOR THE DEAD BOLT! So like a mature, 21 year old representative of Jesus Christ, I did what any missionary in that situation would do. I freaked out! I knew none of the neighbors, most of our members live on base, I was with a companion from another area... I was just frazzled. We jump back into the steel safety box shaped like a car and sat there in the dark going over our options. Well, to save you any more drama and time... we ended up making a few phone calls, got some help from the missionaries at headquarters, and got a key brought to us by our management. Hallelujah the church is true. We planned for the next day (still quite in shock) and got ready for bed. I was exhausted at this point, but the sister I was with ended up talking to me until 12 o'clock! I was so so tired the next morning, haha. But that's okay:) I'm here for my girls, not for me.
Thursday we exchanged back and Sister Jones and I were reunited! It's always nice getting back into the routine you both know. A sweet lady in our ward took us out to lunch with her daughter who just got home from her mission. We basically picked her brain about missionary work, and her last 18 months, while sitting over pita bread, hummus and chicken schwarma. It was so good! I love Mediterranean food I have found. Sara, the RM, said she would love to go out with us so we set up a day and went on our way to go save the world. By that I mean see some of our less actives. Our senior missionary couple accompanied us while we did this and thought we did such a fine job that they took us out to Krispy Kream to get a hot donut (the store just opened and Elder McDonald really wanted to go and try it.. haha).
Friday- Friday is the day we have weekly conference calls with our leaders that are in our Zone. We always seem to forget this, so when they call us in we always scramble around to prepare and then take notes. Well, JUST as the call ended, the Cunninghams pull up. The sweet couple who is in charge of the Family History center in our ward. They live just down the road from us and thought it would be a nice treat to take us out to lunch at the local greek restaurant that just opened. We were excited about that, but felt bad for everyone that had to see us. We looked pretty homeless. We hadn't had time to put ourselves together yet since the whole morning had been go-go-go. But the food was awesome, and now that is one of our new favorite places. (This week was very culturally diverse with our food options!) The rest of that day was spent in weekly planning, getting things ready for the week to come; they are really effective and well needed, but sometimes it gets so boring. Haha.
For dinner we went over to a families home we had met two weeks prior. They haven't been to church in 15 years and in our area book is says that they were both sealed in the temple, but after reading anti-literature about Joseph Smith they fell away and think the church is a scam. But they still invited us over for dinner, which was nice. Well, that was a really tough evening. The parents hearts are so hard, that there is no way to feel the spirit in their home. They parent in such a way that creates a very negative atmosphere and doesn't allow the kids much freedom. It was a very sad situation and by the end of it when we were leaving we both felt sick to our stomachs. I want my home to be a place where the spirit can dwell, and raise my children in a way that would make my Heavenly Father proud.
Saturday was a busy day. A few plans fell through so we ended up tracting in a trailer park near one of our later appointments. We ended up having a really good lesson with a young couple who just had twins, and they seemed gung-ho about all they were hearing. When we asked them if we could come back and teach them more, they said no. They didn't feel like they needed to go to church or read the bible more than occasionally, or pray often just to prove that they were 'good christians'. That was hard to hear. They had so much potential and it felt like a balloon was popped and all the air had flown out. But everyone has their agency.
That night for dinner, the members we ate with had invited one of their friends who is in a hard spot in her life and would benefit from the gospel message is what they told us. We had a good time and talked a little bit about the Restoration and what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. This lady had a lot of... issues she was dealing with and was more focused on telling us all about them rather than talking about spiritual things. So we did a lot of listening. But hey, that is what Christ would do to show he cared and loved her. So that's what we did. She may or may not ask to see us again, but I hope her first encounter with some LDS missionaries was a good one and will help her if she ever meets any more.
I am grateful that I have the chance every morning to study out of the Book of Mormon and the other books of scripture. I have learned SO much and have developed even more of a strong testimony because of that time I have devoted to Heavenly Father. I know that as we make time for Him and do those things that lead us toward Him, He will reach out and enlighten us as much as we want.
I hope you have a great week and continue to read your scriptures and say your prayers! I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you :)
Love love love,