Hello to all! I had a great week here in Hampstead this last week:) It was one that kept us busy and working, cold and hungry, but GOOD nonetheless.
First off, our investigator Ezzy got BAPTIZED! We held the service on a youth activity night so that all the kids in the ward that were her age could come. It was a really big turn out which was nice to see. It really meant a lot to her family. Sister Macrum and I got her a picture of the Raleigh temple and had everyone who attended sign the back. We want her next goal to be going to the temple to do baptisms there. And guess what? She got her temple recommend on Sunday after her confirmation:) (When she received the Holy Ghost.) She was elated and couldn't stop beaming. I think the highlight was when our Mission President showed up with his wife and daughter (who was here visiting) to see the baptism. We were nervous, excited and more nervous and excited! It isn't everyday that your Mission President comes to your investigator's baptism! He was thrilled and excited to be there. He told our Bishop, "I knew that Sister Golden's name was good for something! These two sisters are the best around!" It was cute.
We had another great teaching opportunity with a young man named Charles. He hasn't grown up in any one church and has a basic understanding of the Bible. But he is so great. We tracted into him (meaning we were knocking on doors and ran across him at home) and have had two really solid lessons with him since. The one we had this week was the Plan of Salvation- which is God's plan for us to live happily and return to live with Him again; all based upon how we use and exercise our free will or agency. He loved this lesson and what made it more great was the fact that we had it in his buddy's home who is a member of the church. They have grown up together and have that bond. So when Jake, his friend, shared his testimony it meant so much more to Charles because they have that connection of friendship already. It was great. Something that really stood out to him was the aspect that because of the Priesthood (or power and authority to act in God's name) we can be sealed to our families forever. He recognized the difference between self proclaimed religious figures, and being called and ordained to do so by God.
Something I have come to notice is that God sends us to places NOT by accident. Why do I say that? Well when I started my mission in Jacksonville I thought I would never return to that place. But little did I know that by being there it would actually affect my mission almost 13 months down the road. When I was in Jacksonville as a Sister Training leader I had to go on exchanges with the Sisters in Hampstead for a period of 24 hours. This is to ensure that the sisters are doing okay, that the work is moving forward, to be an example, and to encourage them. So almost over a year ago I was in Hampstead a few times going around meeting the members, teaching investigators and knocking on doors. There are two experiences from this week that I want to share- that proved to me that the beginning of my mission was meant to help me at the end of my mission.
1. We went tracting this weekend around 11am and it was COLD. Like under freezing temperatures with 20 mph winds. We were tough and layered up and it wasn't too, too bad.
2. In Jacksonville I remembered going around looking for less-active members that we weren't sure still actually lived at the address that was listed. One man we went to go find had the last name of Moneymaker. That isn't too common. When we knocked on his door he opened and told us he was who we were looking for, but he didn't want us to come back by again. He was done with the church. We respected his decision, took the note, and went on our way. 13 months later, as I am serving in Hampstead the name Moneymaker comes up again and I thought to myself, there is NO way there are two of those guys with the exact same first and last names! We waited for church to start and I was keeping my eyes peeled for this, 'Moneymaker'. I saw him- walking in with a white shirt on, sleeves rolled up to show his tattoos, gauges in both ears and a black vest on. I marched straight over to him and said, "Are you ___ Moneymaker?" He replied that he was...a little taken aback. I continued, "Did you used to live in Jacksonville?" Then he says, "Yes, and I remember you. I told you to go away and not come back." Then he smiled sheepishly-this big burly man- and says, "Well, I'm sorry. But I'm back." I patted him on his large marine-like deltoid and said, "The Lord wants you back and so do we." And we went away and sat down again. I love that we are placed in each others paths for a reason. It may be just for that time, or it is because it will affect our life somewhere down the way, far into the future.
Oh yeah and I almost forgot. This week was also my Birthday! A few members caught wind of it and we had some invites for lunch and dinner. Well, at lunch it was a big feast- Cafe Rio style. Then lemon cake. Then we moved on to the dinner appointment. Pork Pasole with tortillas and chocolate mint cake! Then lastly we go to the Bullard's house (a family we are teaching) and they made us dinner and cake! 3 layer cake! Oh my gosh it was so sweet of them and they went out of their way to surprise me, so I couldn't decline. Let me just tell you- I have never felt so fat nor full.... Woes of a mission I guess ;)
I love teaching, I love learning, I don't like the cold too much, but that is fine! I hope you are enjoying where you are at and love the life you are leading :)
<3 Sister Golden