This week has been literally the best week of my mission- not even being dramatic! Which as we all know, I never am...I like don't even know where to start but hopefully I can make sense typing through all my excitement. So I guess the summer weather I was raving about last week died down a little. I jinxed us apparently. It has been colder this week, but oh my heart the almond blossoms are everywhere and they are so pretty. I love biking by the orchards, and in the morning for exercise sister winn and I re routed our usual run to go through the orchards and it is the coolest thing running through this like canopy of almond blossoms. The prettiest is when we are going through them and the wind picks up and all the white pedals that were on the ground get picked up and tossed around us. I feel like I am in a movie or something. It is way cool. Side note- can I just say again what a tender mercy it is to have a companion that loves to run like me! Seriously, it is a rarity to find in the modesto sisters. Anyways so that just like sets my mood for the rest of the email.
This past week sister winn and I have gained this new confidence and urgency to our message, and our teaching is totally being transformed by it. As well as our faith. We had three exchanges this week- in three different zones- plus splitz, yet we have seen miracle after miracle in our own area. One day we were coming in from our morning run, and we pasted by our neighbor and started up a conversation with her. We got talking and it we all just clicked. She is a young mom and they are new here, and her daughter destiny was having trouble making friends, so we of course invited her to attend activity days which is a like a youth group for girls ages 8-12. She was so excited to have her go. This opened up the opportunity for Jenn to feel comfortable asking us questions that she had. We starting teaching her this week and she said for the first time in her life she has felt hope and desired to be baptized. As we sat and listened to her open up and tell us about all these awful experiences in life that she has been enduring I could not help but cry for her. I admit as I sat on her couch hearing this all, I felt this heavy burden of love and concern come over me for her, and how much she needed the gospel. I felt so inadequet in that moment. I didn't have the words our message deserved, but I felt the spirit also in that same moment bring me peace. I know that Christ is lifting me up and strengthening me so that I can help her find hope in Christ. The spirit will direct my thoughts and words, I can trust that. I was right, I do not have the words His gospel deserves, but I do have the spirit with me, and the spirit will testify the truth of all things.
So we had not been able to contact this member's referral for a couple weeks, but this week we were and it was so awesome. We got there and introduced ourselves and from there he went off about how much he was drawn to the church and all these different friends in the army that were Mormon that he really loved. He has been to church once and he said it was the most amazing experience for him. His daughter has been asking him why they don't go to a church and he really wants to learn more about the Gospel. We taught about the Book of Mormon, gave him some things to read and set another appointment with their family. It was such a miracle! Then that next day we working in the area and looking at the address of our next person to go see and it just didn't feel right to me. I looked at all the plans for the day and they all just felt wrong. I was so confused and sister pisa- my companion for the day- had to use the bathroom haha. We felt like we needed to go walk around and see if we could talk with anyone... and if she could use their bathroom. Then we met Alice. It was this nice older lady who was doing some yard work and gladly let us in to use her bathroom. We got talking and told her we were missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She immediately got very upset and told us she could not talk to us. I was startled by the drastic switch of conversion and afraid. All I wanted to do was leave that house, but I felt like I needed to ask her if I could answer any concerns that she might have with our church. She then spoke about how at her church they showed them videos about what we do in our church (which were all not true things at all and very hurtful and hard for me to hear). She could tell I was hurt and allowed me to speak. I could do nothing else but bear my testimony and invited her to meet again and discover what we really are about. We had a great discussion about Jesus Christ and found a lot of common ground. Her heart was softened and we are meeting with her tomorrow to keep teaching her. That was truly a miracle.
So we are like on cloud nine. We have never in this area found so many new people to teach in one week. Then on Sunday we are out biking between appointments and visits and our appointment with a family falls through. Our first plan of action was to go to to our back ups, but I got that same empty feeling of it not being right. So did sister winn. I was reminded of my previous experience that week and knew someone needed us. We prayed and I started thinking about a lady sister wilkins and I had met 2 months ago on the street. We decided on faith that her house was where we needed to go. We knocked on her door and Jennieve and her son Avaro came out onto the porch. We started talking with them, and asked if they wanted to hear about our message. -Pause, sister winn and I this week had a goal to start teaching when we find people, then set up an appointment after rather than just ask when is another good time to come back. okay, un pause-They said yes and so we just started teaching them the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We taught them the whole lesson and invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and they accepted. Right then and there. We meet with them this week as well. It was such a miracle! This whole week has been an an answer to our prayers. I think what made a difference was that we both made changes to feel the Savior more close and as a result He was able to lead and guide us more fully.
This week I have gained a testimony of Matthew 17:20 "
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief : for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain , Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
I may not have faith like some of the prophets I read about in the scriptures but I do have it and because I do nothing is impossible to me. I love this elder Holland quote from his talk Lord I Believe, "the size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue, it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and truth you already know." I am learning how to really stand firm in the faith I do have, and as I do Christ is making up all the difference. This week has changed my heart. Not because we have more people to teach than before, but because I know that God is aware of me and when I ask for Him to strengthen me He will. Becuase He loves me. And He loves us all and He will always be there for us. I am really learning why I am here on my mission, to help others find Christ through His restored Gospel, and I need to always have that urgency and confidence in my teaching.Thank you for the prayers.