It's been a great week, lots of hard works, lost of awkward street contacting, and lots of miracles as always = )
We are seeking to add and find people to teach and we were so blessed last Tuesday when we contacted a referral named Vanessa. She was a referral from the Elders and they had said not to call her but to just go by first ad we had about 3 times already and no luck, so we just texted her and she was more than willing to set up an appointment with us. As we walked up to her door we were greeted with excitement and smiles and she was just so nice Sister Patterson and I were a little shocked. We found out she had been dating member and so she had already been to church several times. She told us that she had never felt anywhere else what she feels when she comes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As she described it, she couldn't put it into words and I simply said, "Like you're home." She said, "Yes!" We taught her the Restoration and my AWESOME companion extended an invitation to be baptized on August 31st and she said yes! We were blown away, and so grateful! And it was Elder Ballard's blessing answered. He blessed us that we would be able to find someone new and teach them and baptize them before August was over! Miracle!!! She is so wonderful!
We had kind of a funny experience Wednesday...our day was coming to a close and we had been praying to find and add an investigator. As we left the church, we ran into a member who introduced us to her friend Josh, whom we'd never seen. and we asked how they knew each other. When they said from the work place I figured that meant he was not a member. My companion though he was a member and we said goodbye and said we'd be back later for the activity that night. Well, as we walked away I thought, "Umm...should we just talk to him?" We were on our way out the door to try to contact and teach 2 referrals with some time we had due to a cancelled appointment. But we went anyway (had no luck and some pretty hilarious street contacts). We came back to try to mingle with members and their friends that always come to Wednesday night Volleyball after institute. Josh was there so we talked with him and found out he indeed was not a member. We talked with him about what we do and teach and set up a return appointment and then we gave him a Book of Mormon and prayed with him. He was so kind and open and easily interested in it all. I laughed at us as we went to the car to head home and said, "Heavenly Father is so patient with us. Here we are begging for investigators and he puts one right in our path and we say, 'Hi nice to meet you! We'll see you later!'" Ha ha...
Thursday we felt prompted to go to Santee Lake and street contact around the park areas. We had a great conversation with a sweet 16 yr old, but her 21 yr old friend wasn't so friendly...wouldn't even take an Institute card from me and waved us away kind of crushing our spirits....and so as we made our way back to our car I saw a dad and two sons fishing, so I headed that way and told Sister Patterson I had to do it to redeem ourselves from our rejection! Boy doesn't Heavenly Father work in mysterious ways?! We found out that the dad was actually baptized in Mexico when he was 8 and ever since he came to the U.S. he hadn't been back to church! We talked with him about the church and his family and invited him to come back...he seemed reluctant but we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and a picture of the Savior. He said he wouldn't have time to leave and I challenged him to leave it on his passenger seat and see how many days he would look at it while driving to work before he just had to pick it up and read it = ). We invited his 2 boys, age 10 and 4, to come over and say a prayer with us. I know they won't forget that, and I also know we were guided to the Lake because Heavenly Father needed us to find Saul and remind him of what he knew as a child. I love how much Heavenly Father loves us!
I got to be a coach for Sister Madsen and Sister Brown in their area for our Missionary Training Experience this weekend and that was pretty neat. We were trained further on the things that Elder Ballard shared with us and then invited to go put it to practice. We sure did too! We contacted in a park for 1 1/2 hrs. It was like we talked with one person, then more would come as they left. 2 neat experiences came from that. We talked to 2 sisters swinging together, one was 10 and the other 16, and they told us how they were Catholic and then the 16 year old said she believed after this life she would be reincarnated. The other sisters went on to invite them to look at mormon.org and come to the Battalion, but before we left I said, "You mentioned you believed in being reincarnated...what is it about that that brings you peace?" She said it was just knowing she could come back and keep on living, even in a different form. I asked, "What if it were possible for you to come back as you...but a perfect you?" She looked puzzled and said, "I've never thought about that or heard that." I testified of the Savior's Resurrection and how because of what He did, we have the chance to be resurrected also and that we will be perfect and whole! I asked if she would want to learn about that and she said with certainty, "Yes." It was so amazing to see her face and her countenance change as she heard truth. We sang "I Am a Child of God" for them and said a prayer, and I know they will never forget that meeting. We also stopped to talk to about 6 teenage boys with their slurpees and chips from 7-11. Some thought it would be pointless, but even Elder Ballard said, "Never underestimate the worth of one soul." So we talked with them and it was fun to change and talk on their level. One was a tennis player so I related the gospel and commandments to the lines drawn on a tennis court...they got it and you could see the wheels turning in some of their heads. One of the guys got up and acted like her was getting a phone call and then ran down a ways....a few minutes later he called his friends on the phone and they hung up and told us he told them to make up an excuse to leave! ha ha, teenagers...but they stayed and listened, and they were all invited to look at mormon.org. Then, while talking to those boys, a couple came and were playing on the playground with their little boy and they had been having a guessing conversation about us the whole time because she heard us mention God. We talked with the wife for a few minutes (who use to work for a member) and talked about God's love and understanding it through being parents. We invited her to meet with us and she nicely declined but then told us she was so glad we came to talk to her because her previous experience with missionaries was negative because they seemed to just be telling her she was wrong. Had we not talked to the boys, we wouldn't have been able to run that errand for Heavenly Father and help her have a new perspective on the church....I know somewhere down the road Heavenly Father will continue to finish what He has begun in her life = )
Saturday, we had another adventure, Sister Patterson and I hadn't eaten all day and so we stopped by Chipotle for dinner. Just as we finished, a couple sat at a table next to us and her husband was on what seemed to be a funny phone call with her best friend. I asked about the conversation and that lead to us teaching them at a table outside Chipotle for an hour! They had just gotten married in January and funny thing was, as I was putting materials in my bag before going in to Chipotle I had a prompting to put a Temples pamphlet in bag! We had such a great conversation. They had gone to a Christian college and the husband said he was glad we talked because he took away a different understanding about what we believed than he did from his professor. The wife admitted she had just bought a book from Barnes and Noble about Mormonism. I laughed and slid a Book of Mormon over to her and said, "Here! All you have to do to know is read this!" It seriously was a miracle and a neat experience....even funnier, the next day our Stake Presidency did a training with our Branch Council and the counselor mentioned he had gone to Chipotle with his family for take out and he told his girls to say hi to us when they saw us...when they got in the car with the food he asked if they said hi and their response was, "No, we couldn't! They were busy teaching about the Godhead or something!" ha ha...we didn't even notice them walk by = )
I had the chance to put an octet together to sing in Sunday night's Mission President's Fireside. We sang "My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee" and it went beautifully. The greatest blessing was being back in my old building where I served in El Cajon and seeing 3 of my recent converts and beloved ward members I missed so much! They all made a b-line for me after the fireside to say hello and give hugs. I had 3 of the YW run up to me too and one mentioned that she just had to tell me that she has decided to serve a mission!! I just love all of this more than I can express!
one last miracle in finding happened last night just before we went home. We were trying to meet with Josh again but his parents wouldn't let us talk to him and hung up on us. We couldn't find his apt and so we saw a guy out on his porch and asked for directions, he couldn't help so we just struck up a conversation with him...a 20 year old marine and new father just back from Afghanistan....we talked to him about Heavenly Father's love and his love for his new son. Religion has never been his thing, but as we testified and promised blessings, he wanted to know more...we will be meeting with his family and teaching them Saturday = ). Again, Heavenly Father knew what He was doing! = )
With all of these experiences, I believe even more what Preach My Gospel says: "You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. All of them are children of God, your brothers and sisters. God loves them just as He loves you. Many of these people are searching for purpose in life. They are concerned for their families. They need the sense of belonging that comes from the knowledge that they are children of God, members of His eternal family. They want to feel secure in a world of changing values. They want “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23), but they are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12)."
Open your mouth and share what you hold dear!!!! Only miracles will follow!
Love you all so much!