It's really here! I have been on my mission for 9 months as of tomorrow! Craziness! Over the past week I have been thinking of how I was and felt when I first came out into the field and I stand in amazement at the experiences that I have had and how I have grown into the missionary I am today. The only way I could remember all the blessings and miracles I have seen would be from reading my journal and saying, "Oh yeah, I remember that!" or "Oh I forgot about that!" I cannot believe all of the experiences I have had in just 9 months and I look forward with faith to all the will occur over the last months! But, here I am! Right in the middle! It's a good place to be = )
On another note, we had transfer calls again today and looks like Sister Rasmussen and I make a great team because we are staying together! She is now officially the companion I will have had the longest! We are both super happy and super excited....and I know our ward members and those we are teaching are too! They have told us they think we are the cutest and shouldn't be split up ha ha
I had some pretty amazing experiences this week. I am awed at how many times in the recent days I have been able to bear a personal and fervent testimony of the power of the Atonement and forgiveness to help bring a spark of hope to someones life. Last Tuesday night, we went to visit a girl named Kelsey that our Bishop sent us to. She is less-active and apparently her dad had asked the bishop to check in on her if he could. He asked us to go by and said others had no luck getting in touch with her and she hadn't let previous missionaries in. We went and knocked on her door...3 times...we heard people inside and knew they had looked through the peep-hole and seen us. We were writing a note to leave and finally someone opened the door. He told us she was asleep. We talked to him for a few minutes and then he looked behind him and said, "Well then you come talk to them." It was Kelsey...she tiredly came to the door...looking pretty rough...smelled of alcohol, tattoos on, lip rings, her eyes were fogged over a bit...she said she had just woken up (at 8pm at night). We talked to her and got to know her story....long story short: She is 27, left the church when she was 17 because her brother had and at first she was upset with him because she knew it was all true and was mad he'd turn away...then she said she saw others from the church judge him and look down on things he was doing..that made her question...and she chose the path her brother took. All of her family are members of the church and she has felt looked down on and like an outcast for all these years. She asked us if her dad sent us and said if he cared then why didn't he ever call her to talk. She said it really hurt her when her family, this past Christmas, asked her not to come home for the holidays. As she talked I ached for her...Satan sure is so subtle isn't he? Something so small that put doubt in her...that lead to 10 years on a destructive path both physically and spiritually. The spirit brought an experience to my mind, that was fresh in mind because I had just used it in my talk I have Sunday....if any of you heard my talk I gave before I left you will remember it....but I felt to share the experience I had with when my dad taught me of our Heavenly Father's love for us and how willing He is to forgive. (Briefly: I backed into a girl's car at school, I felt awful because of the burden it would bring and I was scared to tell my dad about it because I didn't want him to be mad at me but I knew I had to tell him, I drove home and found him at work and through my tears I told him what happened, rather than anger and frustration, he smiled and said through a little chuckle "Well whatdya do that for?", and as I cried and said how sorry I was, he wrapped his arms around me and said it'd be OK.) As I told Kelsey this story tears started streaming down her face...I promised her that that was how her Father in Heaven felt about her...that even though she may feel hurt between her and her dad, that our Heavenly Father's love is infinite, and he is always standing there with outstretched arms to help her overcome and know, everything will be OK. No matter what path we are on away from Him, as soon as we even turn our gaze to Him, He is there....as she cried I couldn't help it and I just wrapped her in my arms and let her cry on my shoulder. She said, "I want to believe everything you say...I really do....I want to try, I just don't know that I can." I testified of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what He can do for her...it was like a light had come into that dark stairwell where we stood...a weight lifted from her and she just thanked us for coming by and said she really wanted to try. She set another appt. with us and we said we would start small, because she wasn't ready for church yet, and invited to Institute Dinner...just to eat and be around good people. She was excited. I wish I had more to the story to tell you...but unfortunately she didn't come to either and we haven't been able to get a hold of her again....BUT...I feel peace about it...the spirit was definitely there that night and I am sure it just scared her to feel again...and we know how Satan is...subtle...and works immediately after having such amazing experiences like that...but I am so thankful for the spirit that was felt with Kelsey...and for the testimony I could bear. Being the same age as her...I think she took my testimony more to heart when I bore witness that I had been there...that I had been in a hopeless state and felt stuck for years, but that I was a living testimony of the healing and enabling power of the Atonement. She said, "I believe you...I mean you're 27 and on a mission...that's not normal." (ha ha...nope! but here I am! = ) I walked away again grateful for the experiences that I had to go through to have the testimony I have today, and with a great reassurance that God knows exactly where He needs me to serve and the people who need to hear my personal testimony. It takes me back to the scripture that prompted me and made me decide to go on a mission:
Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.
Also, might seem like a small miracle but it was HUGE to me...I noticed last Monday that my camera was missing....deducted that it had fallen out of my bag somewhere....I was so stressed. Losing your camera as a missionary has got to be the worst thing EVER to lose! I was praying and praying and thinking and thinking. I figured it had to be in one of the 2 church buildings I was in on Sunday...if not all was lost. I asked my District to all say a little prayer that my camera would be found. I texted the Elders that could look in one building and the Executive Secretary that could look in ours....no lie...as we were teaching Kelsey, the thought..."Heavenly Father will surely bless me for comforting one of His daughters in need right now." When we got back to the car, we had a text from the secretary in our YSA ward that gave a perfect description of my camera and said it was turned in to the lost and found and was there waiting for me!!! Does Heavenly Father love me or what?! I was so thankful! I have no idea when or how it fell our or who turned it in...but I prayed blessings would pour out upon whoever had! Gotta love answered prayers!
I did something kinda funny the other day. After leaving a lesson with Jackie and Rachel, we were walking down the hallway of the apartment complex and I heard beautiful cello sounds! I stopped and said, "Wait! Sister Rasmussen.....listen!" It was awesome and I listened at the door of the apartment. I said, "Ok this might be weird but I just have to knock on this door and tell whoever is playing how beautiful it sounds." So, I did! A girl named Emily came to the door and I asked if she was the one playing. I think she thought I was a neighbor complaining. I told her, "Wow! I just had to tell you it sounds so beautiful!" We talked with her for a few minutes and she told us how she came to play and that she was preparing for an audition for the symphony. I told her a little about my music background and how much I loved to sing. We told her who we were and what we did and I shared a couple scriptures about music with her and testified that she had divine gifts and talents given from God to benefit others, and people like me walking by her apartment = ) She wasn't interested in meeting with us again but she did say she wanted to look at our website and hey! We will be back = ) I am even considering leaving music for a song on her door and asking her to come play at this "thing" at 1pm on Sunday ; ) I'll work it...don't worry ha ha. She did have a huge smile on her face though! That made me happy.
We had to say goodbye to the Ghana's...well a couple of them at least...they weren't all home, but we went to follow up on their thoughts from the fireside they came to. Andrew told us, "I admire your persistence and the way your church evangelizes. Even after we say no, you keep coming back, I admire that. But I will never in 100 years believe what you believe or come to your church." (Said in a very nice way). We had to tell them that our time was precious and was not our own, and that if they would never consider it, we needed to spend our time finding those who are open and ready to receive....worst days as a missionary when you are dropped or have to drop someone. It always makes me feel like such a failure and like my testimony isn't strong enough...I couldn't hold back the tears as Sister Rasmussen said the closing prayer. I truly came to love them and wanted them to accept our message so badly...they are incredible people...but we tried. We taught them for 3 months and they never kept a commitment we extended...and even after making our "Bible Commentary" covers, they still didn't read The Book of Mormon. I am thankful for Sister Rasmussen. She was confident in the fact that we tried and there really is nothing more we could do. When a heart is closed it's closed. But we hope the best for them and know many seeds were planted.
...which leads to my next miracle! Ken Harnish was baptized on Saturday! I started teaching him at the beginning of my mission with Sister Tanner! He was probably my toughest investigator! Thought it'd be a long time...if ever...before he got baptized. The baptism was beautiful and I sat with him a few minutes before and asked what happened after I left that lead to this great day. Because last time we had met he said he'd pray about February. Then we heard from his sister he didn't want to meet anymore...but then we got a call from him a few weeks later asking us to meet...we were confused....but happy...then I got transferred. So he told me that the day we had come and brought good old Brother Tills (our ward mission leader) with us...that the things he said changed something in him and that a seed was planted...he called him a "carrier" and said ever since that day he had just thirsted for it and now here he was. I was asked to bear my testimony, and I shared Alma 32: 28-29:
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea.
That was Ken...exactly. He kept casting it out....but then...he finally let one sink in and it grew! It was such a blessing to be a part of his journey to the gospel!
Another miracle! We added a new investigator, Arthur, (our Zone Leaders street contacted him) who is awesome and so prepared. We met with him twice last week and he came to church, and yesterday, he committed to be baptized on March 31st!!! Our miracle March Baptism! Woot! He even brought a friend to the second lesson. We taught the Plan of Happiness and ended with and emphasized the Atonement and the fact that we are never EVER alone and that we always have a friend in our Savior. (Another chance I had to bear personal testimony of the Atonement) Raymond said, "That really helped me a lot. You know I feel a spark of hope now." YES!!!! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!
OK...I am sorry this e-mail is so long but one more....yesterday as I came on shift at the Battalion, I took over a tour and met a young dad there with his daughter and niece. He said it was his 8th time coming. I asked why he loves coming here so much and he said, "Because I feel peace here." Long story short, I found out he use to meet with the sister missionaries and loved it and felt light in his life and all these amazing things. I asked why he stopped and he said, "I let the things of the world get in the way and I guess I just don't wanna go through it all again cause I know I'd be starting back at ground zero and then I'd just mess up again." Again, I had the chance to testify of the Atonement and why Jesus Christ gave His life and how it all happened because God knew we couldn't be perfect...and he doesn't expect us to be...we just have to try and the Savior makes up the difference. Why reject such an offering? We talked for a while in the courtyard and I encouraged him to try again...that he felt what he felt there for a reason and there was more of those blessings to come if he'd just choose to come unto Christ. Then right after that on another tour I met a mother and son. He is a marine and she was visiting from Georgia. At the end of the tour our conversation lead to me finding out the marine is getting baptized at the end of this month and his parents are in strong disagreement of that. She was saying she'd asked him to wait until they found out more about the church and he was saying he was getting baptized on the 30th! Ha ..it was kind of funny...but I had her watch a few short videos and I answered lots of questions, and after watching "God' plan, and the 'He Lives' Mormon message, she had tears in her eyes and she said she agreed with everything that was said....MIRACLE!!!! She thanked me and said, "Well, I know my son is happy we came here." = ) Wow! What a faithful young man! I love being a missionary and seeing such faith! It builds mine!
The Church is True! The gospel is true! ...And I love you! = )
P.S. - I attached some pictures a family I took on tour sent me. They were so adorable and I loved their little girls and they were obsessed with Disney Princesses...so I was a Pioneer Princess for them and posed like one with them and sang a Cinderella song to them before we started the tour = )