This week was one of the busiest weeks I have had on my mission. It is so good to be busy though, so I am not complaining one bit! Three of the days we had to even cancel our dinner appointments to make more room for our teaching appointments, it was awesome!! (don't worry we brought snacks to eat in between the lessons).
This week we had another mission leadership council and then another zone conference in Modesto. The Modesto mission is coming up on its one year mark of being organized, so President Palmer felt like this is the time for him to present the mission goals. The council and conference were so powerful to be apart of. I could really feel the unity of every single missionary coming together. We each wrote President an individual letter of what we will personally do to sustain this goal we have. For me, it was just the boost I needed. I have been feeling like I need to elevate my missionary work to the next level and this is just what I need to focus my efforts on.
The YSA work this week was exploding. We get so many referrals all the time since the YSA ward covers the whole stake. We are teaching lots of new people this week. We got to teach Rudy, who we met last week, and it was a really awesome lesson. He is native american so he has some confusion seeing where Christianity fits in with his cultural beliefs, but he has a really open heart and mind. We are hoping to start teaching his fiance as well, it would be so powerful for their future family to be grounded in the Gospel. We have a hard time committing him to a specific time to teach, but when we do catch him free the lessons are powerful. We also started teaching Chad. Our first lesson was so intimidating but awesome. He is this huge military guy, and he doesn't say to much- he just stares and stares at you the whole time. When I relayed to him the first vision of Joseph Smith, he didn't break eye contact for one second! Hahaha it was so weird for me but the spirit was truly there. He prayed and asked God what church he should go to, and then the elders showed up on his doorstep (who then referred Chad to the YSA missionaries, aka us). Chad even came to a YSA activity on friday night...which....might not have been the best. It was pretty awkward I'll be honest, and we actually haven't heard from him just yet since then....but we have an appointment on thursday with him so hopefully we get to go back and teach him again. Also this girl Mickayla we are teaching now too. I guess the elders have been teaching her for over a year now...but I don't know how much she actually took in (or how much was actually taught..). So we all decided tog ether to start the lessons over and really help her gain a strong testimony. Her boyfriend is a member and they have been coming to church for like a year now together. She is just the sweetest, once again just hard to catch for a lesson. That is the hardest part about YSA, everyone is young and working or going to school and it is so hard get an appointment with them! Lots of things are unplanned and happen spur of the moment haha, it is exciting though. We love it.
In the Ripon area we had a awesome miracle this week. This guy Tristian who we tried to teach a couple months ago texted us out of the blue and wanted to meet with us. He had some really hard times hit and he remembered the peace he felt when we talked with him before. We tried to meet three different times and all three times he didn't show. On the last time, we totally saw him bike by the house though...we get the sense that he is just in a really hard place and is afraid to meet. We hope and are praying we can do everything we can to make him feel comfortable meeting with us. He reached out and obviously needs some peace, we pray he has the courage to go find it. He is Robert and Trisha's (our recent converts) neighbor actually too, so they are going to try and reach out to him as well. Robert and Trisha are doing so awesome! Every time we meet I am just blown away by them. They have become just are best friends, we love them so much. This weekend was stake conference and Robert was asked to say the closing prayer! He was so nervous but he did amazing. He got so many compliments afterwards and it meant the world to him. Robert might even come play basketball with us today at the church with all the missionaries, we always joke around who would win in 1 on 1. It will be so hilarious, I hope he comes. He is the best. I just love Robert and Trisha and I pray every night something amazing, something so good, will happen to them. They have really hard times, yet they just keep showing so much faith. They are such examples to me.
And Kelly and Marco are doing awesome too! She has overcome the biggest obstacles keeping her from baptism! She came to both sessions of stake conference too. Kelly is just so sweet. She can be so hard on herself, but she has made so such progress. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is changing her heart, and she feels that. She is excited to be baptized on the 16th.
These past couple weeks I have been studying in Alma from the Book of Mormon, the story of the strippling warriors. It is one of favorite stories in the Book of Mormon. They are just these young kids who have an incredible amount of faith and trust in God. They are so obedient to anything He asks of them. I have learned so much about obedience by studying their story, it really has changed my perspective. Alma 57:21,26-27 & Alma 58:37,40 are some of my favorite verses (you should read them!). Obedience is just an act of faith. It is saying, God I trust that your way rather than my way is better. Obedience is trust. And time after time, these young kids are delivered from the trails because they trust God enough to do exactly as He says. And it doesn't mean that it was a walk in the park for them. They had really hard times, and were wounded almost fatally, and were struck with fear at times..but still they put their trust in God and He was there for them every time. I love ALma 57:27, "..they are young and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God, continually." That is how I want to be, and I strive to work on that everyday. They are amazing examples to me I love reading that part of the Book of Mormon.
all my love,
sister eleanor neeley