Monday, March 9, 2015

Investigators, Inactives, and Members ~ I Love Them All!

This week was pretty good.  We are starting to see better weather, which I am so grateful for!  Except everyone keeps saying, "It's coming! That heat and's comin' "!  So we will see how I survive it this summer.  Luckily I only have to endure it once.

Last Monday was just a regular day... getting groceries, (Sister Jones and I eat the same thing every day, every we look forward to having dinner with our members.  Haha.  It is just easier to shop that way for us) then looking around a few stores to try and find her sister a birthday present, then we headed to the Benson's house to help her finish up writing thank you cards for her baby shower.  The cards were so cute!  She custom made them and printed them herself to give out.  I need to take a few photography classes again when I get back.  We had dinner with them and ended up having a GREAT gospel discussion afterwards.  We each bore a testimony and opened up about the topics we were discussing.  They are one of the families that Sister Jones and I feel closest too.  I love them!

Tuesday was a day full of visiting the inactive sisters in our ward. Our mission is doing a big push to get our less and inactive members to come back to church.  So we have really tried to focus on bringing certain ward members with us that can relate to these sisters and help in the process of bringing them back to church and making them feel loved.  Along the way that day we were able to stop by an older woman's home - she is 85 and still coming to church!  She proceeded to tell us during that visit about all the many ailments she is dealing with right now.  An infected, and blackened toe, a wart on her elbow, a cut on her forearm, a swollen calf, a hematoma (however you spell that) on her hip, and other various stomach issues we won't go into detail about.  This little widow loves our company though since she is alone and has been for years.  Her only company is 6 dogs and 19 cats...that's always a lovely time ;)

Wednesday we had Zone Training for the month of March.  Our zone is so, so different from when I had first gotten here...I guess that was 6 months ago.  Oh yeah, happy 6 months to me today! :D I am 1/3 of the way there!
February 27 marks 6 months!

Anyways, we are getting used to all the new leaders in our zone and working on a few new goals we have set for our area.  After this meeting we went out to lunch with our senior missionary couple and had some yummy Mexican food.  Sadly, I wasn't feeling well this day, (everyone is getting sick) so I didn't eat.  The waiter serving us felt bad and kept asking me if I needed anything.  But I declined.  So he said, "Next time you come, I give you free dessert, okay??!"  I laughed and said 'Oh sure okay'.
That afternoon we met with someone who asked us to come by and go over “The Family: A proclamation to the world” with them.  They had been really struggling with understanding and not feeling upset when they were reading it.  At this current time in their life, they didn't have a spouse and had to raise their two children by themselves, so that caused some hard feelings and resentment.  We wanted to resolve the conflict as quickly and fully as possible.  Because we don't want people leaving the church!  When we read over the paper the spirit entered the room.  You could tell everyone present felt it and was receiving personal revelation and/or inspiration.  When we talked about what we had read, this sweet individual said, "No, we don't need to go any further.  I know that this is true and that the Lord knows me."
I was amazed at what they had learned and grasped as the Holy Ghost enlightened them with knowledge and acceptance.  I think often times we ourselves try and solve problems with a secular view, opposed to a spiritual one.  I decided then and there that I would always take my problems or questions to the Lord.  I didn't want to limit Him on what areas of my life he could touch or affect.  I know that the Holy Ghost is the true converter and without his help, we missionaries can only get so far.

Thursday we went and saw another widow in our ward that lives near us, as well as the family history consultants.  We jumped on FaceBook for a bit to see if we could reach out and talk to anyone.  We messaged a young marine wife who hasn't come to church since they moved here.  She is homesick, struggling with her testimony, having a hard time being by herself all day,  among other things.  After our conversation and sharing a spiritual message, she told us that we were a rock and foundation for her in NC.  She felt really isolated and alone in the 'Marine Wife Life' and struggled when she first came here.  But when we showed up at her door, and continued to visit her each week for the next few months, she said that she could start feeling the spirit again.  And that she would have gone insane if it hadn't been for us coming to see her.  That made us feel really good and know that we are actually doing something for her.  We went home to plan for the next week, then had dinner with some members we had not really met before and had a great lesson with them.  We shared the Mormon message 'Earthly father, Heavenly Father' and they loved it!  Their countenances changed and we were able to build trust with them.  That was good.  Then on our way home we stopped by a members home who is pregnant with twins!  She was going in the next morning to be induced, and oh my gosh.  She was SO big.  I have never seen such a big pregnant lady!  I swear.  Everyone here is pregnant or has a baby.  It's in the water or something.

Friday afternoon after studies and our weekly zone conference call as sister training leaders, we were picked up by the Cunninghams and taken to the Santorini Grill...the Greek restaurant.  They wanted us to celebrate her birthday with them so they brought us to their favorite restaurant.  I feel like we go with them every week, ha.  It was cute though, all the workers there know them and their favorite things, a lot about their personal lives, and treat them like friends.  After lunch we met up with a few sisters in our Relief Society and went to an inactive sisters home who was in desperate need of help cleaning.  She had 3 little kids and was really busy and couldn't stay on top of things.  So we along with 4 other people met at her house and commenced in some good old fashioned service.  We broke off into two's and took a room to work on.  We hit the kitchen, living room and nursery HARD and left it sparkling and clean.  It took us a good 3 hours, but she was very appreciative and loved meeting some more members in the ward.

The best way to show people you love them is to serve them. That is what Christ did his whole ministry.  And that is often a way to get less active members to return- they feel your genuine care for them and their well being.  The sisters who accompanied us were so willing and kind-hearted and we had a really good time together.  

As of late, every time we go to a dinner appointment the husband is outside building something.  A table here, a chicken coop there, a new porch or doorway here.  I need to, “A”-Learn how to do these things myself, or “B”- Marry a man who can do those things!  Crafty is the way to go!

Saturday was fun!  We were able to go and see some of our investigators, less actives and members, have brunch with a family, and then see the new 4 lb baby of our investigator!  She was SO cute :)  Too bad we can't hold them.  That evening we drove up to Wilmington to attend Stake Conference with our two good friends who are young military wives.  We have gotten to know them pretty well and love being with them.  We also ate out at the Mexican Restaurant we always eat at after zone training.  After our meal, the waiter from last time came out with this churro dessert and said, "This is for you! I told you that I would make you something next time you came in!"  He gave it to me for free :)  so nice!  Luckily there were 4 pieces so we all shared.
Stake conference was really great.  Sister Jones and I were called on by the stake president to answer a few questions while he was giving his talk, since we are the sister training leaders.  I don't get shy, but sometimes my mind goes blank when I am called on the spot!  But we both gave some good feedback on how we think our ward counsels are doing and what we are focusing on to help one another.  
The conference ended at 9, people wanted to say hello and goodbye, then we had an hour and a half drive back to Jacksonville!  Sister Jones and I didn't get back to our apartment until midnight!  (Time change included).  Tess, the one girl we rode with teased us and said we were going to turn into pumpkins if we didn't get home!  We felt weird being out past 9:30 and not in bed at 10:30!  To think my social life didn't even start until around 10 at college is like a dream to me. ha!

Sunday morning we had a really hard time waking up...We kind of sat there after our prayers for a minute trying to gather ourselves.  We studied then left to go attend Stake Conference which was luckily being broadcast to our bldg. in Jacksonville.  we saw the first hour, and kind of heard the second hour.  The screen went out and we had some technical difficulties.  Kind of a bummer.  After Stake conference our ward got together and had a lunch!  We ate wraps, and all different kinds of sides that people brought.  It was a fun time and it was gorgeous outside!  So pretty and sunny. I miss the sun. 
My Companion Climbing a Tree
After the lunch Sister Jones and I set out to GO FIND 5 NEW INVESTIGATORS! Yeah!  We hit up a trailor park that is in our area and walked up and down a whole two rows...which is a lot of trailers.  Some people weren't home, others weren't interested, and others said 'No thanks, goodbye' and closed the door.  But!  We did find those really nice people who the Lord had prepared for us to find.  One old man who is a retired Marine teared up as we talked about the Plan of Salvation.  Another man shared the struggles he is having with his daughter and wants her to participate in our church's Young Women's program.  A lady told us that she was actually baptized mormon and was thinking to herself she needed to go back to church!  I know that the Lord does place those in our path that are nice, but also those who are ready to hear and receive the gospel.  We got so into it that we didn't even realize we had tracted for 3 hours.  Well, my feet knew it, but my head didn't realize until after we sat down at dinner with the Parkers.  Haha.  We kind of vegged there for a minute while she got burritos ready.
It was a good day.

I know that as we put the Lord first, he will be ready to bless us.  We sometimes put limits on Heavenly Father and what we think he can do.  But I have learned and now know, that "the Lord is prepared to give us what we are prepared to receive." (Christofferson.)

I love you all so much and hope you have a great week.  I look forward to hearing from you soon :)  I sent you all a letter today, so hopefully they make their way to you!   
I am so extremely proud of each of you my siblings and the directions you are going in your lives.  Keep pushing forward!

<3 Mal

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