Greetings from the Carolinas! How's it going? Have I told you lately how much I miss you and how excited I am to see your cute faces? Ah! I hope everyone had a good week and I really hope that each of you were able to work on turning some of your weaknesses into strengths. I really worked on that this week and was blessed with some amazing experiences and some personal growth. Gotta love that! This week in the Carolinas was absolutely beautiful! The heat has died down and we are enjoying some perfect weather. The humidity is still high, but I've gotten used to it and actually really like it. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see all the colorful leaves in the mountains though. I'm really looking forward to that. You would think being so many trees in North Carolina the leaves would change colors, but they don't. It's quite unfortunate. Anyways, when the weather is good, you know it's a good day to be a missionary, so I'm very grateful!
We had quite a few good days this past week. Lots of ups and downs, tears and smiles, but overall, I'd say it was a fairly good week. There is always so much that happens that it's really hard to explain all that we did. I think it's easier if I break it down into days.
Tuesday we served at our thrift store. I love it there and have made some really good friends. Especially with Sandra. She works up at the register with me and I have loved getting to know her. She's got a heart of gold and she will join the church one day. After service we did tons and tons and tons of finding. We visited lots of former investigators and it wasn't very successful. Not many people were home and no one really wanted to listen to us. It was a hard night of finding, but we made it through the day and that's all that matters.
Every time my companions and I get rejected by someone we look at each other and say, "With every rejection comes a blessing." So every time someone rejects us or our message, we know that heaven is waiting to send down a blessing. :) It makes rejection easier to deal with and lightens the mood! Sometimes it is so hard not to get discouraged or down on ourselves, thinking we could've done this or that, or whatever. So it's important to stay positive and continue to laugh about it. Realizing that they will probably have a different answer when we see them in the spirit world and ask them if they want to learn more about the gospel haha. :) I think we have done really good with finding and I think Sister Warner is understanding the principle of other people's agency and how that works. Man, it's an interesting that. That's for sure. I guess it keeps the world going round. We worked hard until the end of the night and it felt good when 9:30 pm came.
Wednesday was a great day. Started off not so hot, ended real well. A few months ago our car got side swiped in our parking lot? Remember me mentioning that? Well, as a result, we had to take it into the shop on Wednesday. They told us that it was going to take six days to repair and that we would be going without a car for six days. Well, considering the fact that my area covers half the mission, I wasn't quite sure how we were going to make this work and how we were going to make it to all of our appointments and meetings and everything else. But, we started figuring it out and working with our ward mission leader and ward council and was just embracing ourselves for biking and walking and skype/FaceTime lessons. Well, as the vehicle coordinator guy from the mission was about to drop us off, he went into his office and came out with a key, and said "Here sisters, just because we love you so much and just because you are the best missionaries ever, you get to use a spare car for six days with unlimited miles." Which in the mission, we call unlimited miles "celestial miles." We literally jumped up and down for joy and literally started to cry tears of happiness. You have no idea how excited we were. Sounds like something so stupid, but I was not about to bike and walk everywhere for six days. On average we drive about
85-90 miles a day.... So it would have been a rough six days. But, we've had a car ALL week with unlimited miles so we have been driving everywhere and going to all the remote places of our area that we never get too and it's been amazinggggg!!! So so so fun! We were able to have a really good lesson with our investigator Daeshawn. We also had a less active member come out teaching with us for that appointment so it was like killing two birds with one stone! So prime.
We had a really good lesson and Daeshawn is really working towards baptism. We aren't sure if he will be ready to make September 25th, but we are doing our best. I love seeing how the gospel can change people and ultimately, change their hearts. It's amazing! We had dinner with our ward mission leader and there was a surprise package waiting at his house for me..... THANK YOU MAMA!!!!!! Miss Kyla #2 delivered it to me and it made my entire day! Thank you everyone for your sweet notes and loves! Y'all are the best! After dinner we went street contacting at "The Boardwalk" in Charlotte. (A big outdoor shopping/eating/hangout place) We met a few new people there and just had a really fun night being out on the town!
Thursday was alright. They are always our long days and seem to drag on forever and ever. We went to soup kitchen in the morning and it was the last time with the Garlick's and that was really sad. They paid a really nice tribute to them though and they have definitely left their mark here! We then came home and had our weekly planning session, and then drove down to South Carolina to see Nicole. She was asked to give a talk on Sunday so she was freaking out and wanted us to come down and help her. She took us out to dinner and then we helped write her talk. It was on Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ so it was really easy to help her and she was able to go lots of different directions with it and it was fun to see the spirit working in her! She is so wonderful. I have really come to love her and saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing ever. It's a dang good thing I get to see her in a few weeks. She moves to Utah tomorrow and then will start work in American Fork. I am super excited and we already have so many things planned! Hooray for UT attracting all the converts!!! Our night was mostly taken up with her and with traveling so that about summed up Thursday.
Friday was bomb. We had zone meeting all morning and afternoon and it was wonderful. It was a bitter sweet moment though because it was my very last zone meeting as a full time missionary. I am really not liking all these "last" things that are happening. Kinda putting a damper on everything. We ended up having a super powerful meeting on the Doctrine of Christ and becoming true disciples and I really enjoyed it and it was exactly what I needed. I love how the doctrine of Christ is so simple, but so deep. There is so much to learn about it. What I learned the most is just how interchangeable each step is and how you cannot have one without the other. I learned a new way to teach it to others and I'm super excited! I also learned a lot about faith and how we have to "spend" faith, in order to gain faith. Kind of like how we have to "spend money in order to gain money." I don't know, someone once told me that principle and I think it's a true one, so I've kept it haha and related it to faith. Anyways, teaching the lesson of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of my favorites! The zone leaders also went all out and made it a really fun meeting so that was good! I feel like it was one of the better zone meetings I've had on the mission and it ended really well! One of the zone leaders is going home with me so I know he wanted to make his last one a big deal too!
It was great! Our zone is called the Charlotte Central Crew and our zone's motto is "Come jump on Old Ship Zion" so you can only imagine how creative they got. They built a giant ship out of cardboard and wrote all over it. It was classic. Anyways, great meeting! I also got asked to sing with my two hermanas for a special musical number, so that happened. After the meeting we did some planning and finding and then drove all the way down to Wingate, North Carolina to have dinner and a lesson with our most solid investigator named Emily! She is amazing! She is the girlfriend of one of our members. Both her and her boyfriend are going to Wingate University and are both on the Lacrosse team. We had dinner at her apartment and then in walked three of Emily's roommates. They all were so intrigued at who we were and wanted to stay for our lesson! We were super pumped. We had planned to teach Emily the Plan of Salvation so we just decided to go with it anyways and teach it. It was such an amazing lesson! The spirit was SO STRONG and literally took over the lesson. It was amazing. I honestly don't even know how it happened, it just did. I was kind of nervous because you never know how others are going to react, but her roommates really liked us and had great questions and could have lots of potential in the future! We are already going back to see them next week! Yay yay yay for new investigators. Honestly though, it was so much fun being down in the college environment and just hanging out with a bunch of college kids. I honestly cannot wait! It's making me so excited for school and for the next phase of my life! After our lesson, we went with Emily's boyfriend to try and see a less active who lived near by. It was on such a sketchy road and I literally thought we were going to die. We pulled up to the house and it was the creepiest thing ever. It was a dang good thing that we had Grayson with us because without him, there was no way that I was going to walk up to that door. The kid didn't even end up living there, but we were able to find out some more information about him and where he moved too so that was super helpful! Anyways, we had a good long hour drive home and played twenty questions in the car! It was SO MUCH FUN to get to know my sisters better. We had a deep conversation and everyone was getting real with each other. I was loving it. That's what missionary companions are all about. I learned so many new things about them and gained lots of love and respect from chit chatting with them!
Something we want to continue to do. Everyday I tell them to tell me something that I don't know about them and it's been really good for our companionship. We are getting closer everyday and I am really enjoying that. They are helping me tons and I love them mucho. When we got home, I got a letter in the mail from the mission office regarding my "going home" instructions and that was super depressing. :( I never thought the day would come that I would get that in the mail.. But sure enough, it came! Not the best way to end my night, but it had to happen sooner or later.
Saturday was grand! Sorry this is getting really long. I just realized how long this email is getting, and I'm just rambling on. I'll shorten Saturday and Sunday up. We did lots of packing on Saturday. We are moving apartments tomorrow, and it's been a pain in the butt. Let me just tell you! But, I'm excited for change and it'll be a much better location for us! We were able to teach Alex & Sharon and really emphasized reading the Book of Mormon with them. They have been struggling lately but we were super bold with them and really helped them see the importance. We were also able to Skype Hyrum! He is a less active/returning member that we have been working with lately and he just moved to Virginia, but we have been having Skype lessons with him once a week and it has been going wonderful! He asked us about how to resist temptation and how to resist going back to old relationships and habits and how to not give into peer pressure and so it led me to a really good study session.
I honestly started thinking about my life before the mission and my life now, and my life soon to be when I get home from the mish. I realized back at home that people who do wrong, often want others to join them cause they feel more comfortable knowing that others are doing wrong too. It made me think about how we all just want to be accepted so we tend to give in to the wrong that others are doing.
Gaining acceptance by compromising our standards however, leads to a loss of freedom and I saw that so many times. I read this quote that said, "The more obedient you are, the more you stand for true principles, the more the Lord can help you overcome temptation. No one intends to make serious mistakes. They come when you compromise your standards to be more accepted by others. You be the strong one. You be the leader." I just loved that so much because it's so true! Anyways, I also started thinking of the story of Lots wife in Luke 17:32 and to not look back!! To realize that those things are in the past and we can move on. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there.
We have to have an eternal perspective rather than instant gratification, which is what the world wants. I was thinking about how easy it is to slip up or make a mistake that can be 10 seconds, 20 minutes, or 1 hour, but then how hard it is to make right and become worthy again. Sometimes that process can be 6 months or 1 year, or more. So it's just not worth it and deep down we know it and we know it's wrong. I think it's so important that we just keep pushing forward and don't give in to Satan and his evil ways or into the wrongs of others.
Savanah shared some things with me this week that really helped me.
She shared with me some things about how bold and courageous the prophets and apostles are when it comes to standing up for their beliefs. I realized that that is what we need to be doing. Me, especially, right now am literally an extension of the apostles, and I can definitely work on being more bold and courageous. She shared with me about what it means to Hasten the work of Salvation and to be true disciples of Christ. One thing that stood out to me the most is about how we are different from the world. We do not look like the world, we do not act like the world, we do not speak or think like the world. True happiness comes to us when we are living true to true standards. Not when we are living fake to the world. It is a constant battle we fight against evil to be different. So, no matter what, stand up, stand firm, and don't give into Satan and his tricky plan!
Sunday was great. We had a few investigators at church and Nicole gave a great talk. I chose to fast and am continuing to learn so much about the power and principle of fasting. God is teaching me so much about that and I'm loving it. I'm learning so much about the law of sacrifice and consecration. Anyways, that's a whole other topic for a whole nother day! Horrible English right there, but you get the point.
We taught Emily the Gospel of Jesus Christ after church and that was a really good lesson! She is progressing so well and accepted baptism!!!
YAYYYYY!!!! Sunday night we had the mission president's fireside and that was the very best! President Alexander is the best. I love that guy! I got asked to play the piano and lead another special musical number and that was super powerful. The meeting was all on the Book of Mormon and I know that at least one person is going to get baptized because of that meeting! So so good. Our investigator Tiawana came.
She is the best of the best. She's a new one we found this week, and she is flipping hilarious. We showed her the baptismal font after the meeting and she's already pumped to get baptized. Elder and Sister Garlick bore their testimony for the last time and I cried and cried and cried and cried. I had to say goodbye to them and it was so heartbreaking! They are literally my two favorite people ever!!! I have gotten so close to them and it was no coincidence that God put me here in Charlotte, so I could serve and be close to them. They are officially on the road and heading west!!! I cannot believe they finished their mission. So crazy. Many tears shed, but many memories created that will last a lifetime. It was a good end to a good week.
My thoughts and feelings have been all over the place, but my faith has never been stronger and my relationship with my Savior has never been better. I feel so close to him every single day and am so grateful for the 18 months that I've had to build my relationship with him. He is my very best friend and I know that he is so so real and so so aware of each and every one of us. I have been able to see how his hand is involved in everyone's life. President Alexander shared a story of this guy who grew up in a small town in Idaho and when he was a teenager, he decided to run away and ended up in New York. He started getting involved in lots of different drugs and went down the wrong path in life, doing every wrong thing that you could possibly imagine. 30 years later, there was this young missionary who got called to a mission in New York. He and his companion were walking down the street and saw this guy on his porch smoking and drinking.
His house had a fence around it and he had two pit bulls on chains. As the elders walked by, the dogs started barking and coming to the edge of the fence. The man was staring at the elders and wouldn't stop looking at them! The elders continued to walk past the old guy and continued on their way! As they got to the edge of the street they got a feeling that they needed to turn around and go talk to the guy. As they approached his fence, the dogs went back on the porch and stopped barking. The elders started talking to the guy and asked the usual questions. "Where are you from? How is your day?" Blah blah blah.
Well, the guy answered and said he was from a little small town in Idaho. One of the elders was from the very same town in Idaho, so just out of the blue, he asked this man if he knew someone that lived in the small town in idea. Shockingly, the man answered yes, and told the elders that that man was his father, who he hadn't seen in over 25 years. Come to find out, one of the elders looked at this man and said, "Brother, he is my father also." The elder was born after the man left his family and moved to New York. The man started learning the gospel from his younger brother and his companion, eventually moved back to Idaho, and reconciled with his family. He is now an active member of the church and doing well. I have no doubt in my mind that GOD IS AWARE OF ALL OF HIS CHILDREN.
If you don't think he is aware of you, tonight get on your knees and ask him. Ask Heavenly Father how he feels about you tonight, and I promise you will get an answer. Also ask him how he communicates with you, and that will help you realize how he will answer you. I cherish my relationship with my Heavenly Father so much and I know that he hears and answers every prayer. One of my favorite things to teach is how to pray, because I know that no matter what kind of prayer is said, God hears it.
I want you each to know how much I love and adore you. I am so grateful for the support that you've given me. It's going to be a special week for me this week as I hit my 18 month mark. I love love love being a missionary and I wouldn't change my experience for anything! I hope you have a great week and I hope you continue to exercise your faith and stay strong! Rely on Christ and his atonement!
Thanks for everything!!! Extra special birthday shoutouts to my bff Taylor & Elder Parkinson on the 18th!! Y'all are the best. Love love love love love you! Talk to ya in seven, see you in twenty three!!