This week in Ripon has been absolutely beautiful weather. It has been in the 70's and sunny. It feels like summer to me. I love it. At night it gets chilly quick, especially riding bikes, but the days are just beautiful. Perfect weather to be out in and talking to people. Although I realize that this perfect weather is happening in February....and that when it actually does get to the summer months it will be incredibly hot...but I will cross that bridge when I get there, and just enjoy the good weather now. So something cool is that Ripon is surrounded by almond orchards (or as the local people pronounce it "ammon" orchards..no idea why they just do), and they are blossoming right now. All the trees are starting to have these beautiful little white flowers on them. It looks so so cool to see just rows and rows of these flowering trees. To go along with the bloom though, there is also a huge increase of bees here. The bees pollinate the flowers, the flowers fall off, then the almonds start growing. Bees are everywhere. I was already stung once so that is not fun, but the trees are so cool. Also, Ripon every year has an almond blossom festival here in town to celebrate the flowers and the start of the almond growing season. It will happen the last week of February. Lots of people come in for it apparently so I am very excited to be here for it. They do a parade and everything. So that has been really fun to see happen.
As sister winn and I have been working in Ripon and with the sisters in our mission (which has been a blast because sister winn is the bomb), we have been seeing miracles. To start the week, I was like all fired up to go carry out all our plans for the week, and teach all the people we had planned for. I was so ready to just go out and make things happen and have tons of faith. The beginning of the week was a little rough though. Some people who gave us return appointments never answered or showed, and then we had an exchange with some sisters that really burdened me down. I felt the fire I had was kind of being stepped on haha. Sister winn and I were driving back from meeting with some sisters one night, feeling pretty at a lost of how to best help them, and we decided to listen to this talk called Feed My Sheep by Elder Holland. It was SO powerful. Like one of the most powerful I have ever heard (although I am slightly biased to Elder Holland and his talks). We both felt this like huge desire and need to change and be closer to the Savior. To love Him more fully and deeply. I felt the spirit impress upon me that I needed to have more sincere prayers. Okay so. I have a hard time praying at night sometimes in my head. It is late and I am at the edge of my comfy bed, and my mind just wanders. Sometimes I will be like in the middle of praying for my sisters or area or family and next thing I know I am thinking about something pointless like what I will wear the next day or how I like my shampoo I am using. I decided to fix this by leaving some more time before bed to go into the bathroom, turn the fan on, and kneel at the edge of our tub to speak my prayers out loud. It has really changed me. I feel more fully like I am talking to my actual Father in Heaven. I am able to get out what is really on my heart and on my mind. I get much more emotion into it. I have felt a real power come into my life, and since I started doing that my week starting to get exponentially better. For instance we found a inactive part member family to teach, and our investigator Silver who has been ignoring us showed up to church out of the blue sunday! It was so cool to see him there with his two boys! We talked like we never skipped a beat and we are coming over tonight for another lesson. I feel much more at peace with the work I am doing as I share with the Savior my burdens more fully through prayer. I feel him helping me and strengthening me.
We went on two exchanges this week, up in oakdale and then in sycamore. We also did day splitz in Ione which was really helpful to these sisters area. We saw a ton of miracles in their area just in the few hours we were there. In sycamore I got to go work with this new sister missionary and it was such a cool exchange. New missionaries have this awesome awesome fire in them and humility that is so inspiring to me. It reminds me to keep that spirit up in myself. I loved working with her and learning a ton as well. It is always fun to get to see another area as well and meet even more new people. This next week we have three exchanges and two day splitz so it will be busy, but I love helping out and learning from all the sisters. Kind of bummed to be away from sister winn so much because we really love working with one another, but the more I get to know the other sisters, the more I love them!!
This week I am really going to study in Mark from the new testament, along with one of the other best talks in the world by Elder Holland,(https://www.lds.org/
general-conference/2013/04/ lord-i-believe?lang=eng). Mark 9:23-24 is what I am focusing on this week:
all my love,