I am in awe as I look at the calender and see November just around the corner....if that's not scary I don't know what is! Knowing I only have four weeks left has weighed on my shoulders as we have had some terrible struggles this week and as I teach and come to love people and realize I won't be here to see things through with them! Ugh! Heartbreaking! But the Lord blessed me with an amazing miracle this week at the Mormon Battalion that reminded me of His awareness of ALL of His children... So I walked up to the front of the Battalion just in time to be asked to take the next tour. Sister Patterson came with me and we began our journey with our group. There was a couple from Arizona and they mentioned something about a temple and I said, "Yes! The temple being built in Gilbert! Have you seen it?" They said they had and it was beautiful! I told them to watch for the dates so they could go and walk through. We then went on with the tour...these two were so into the tour...particularly the husband and he was just having a ball and making everyone laugh as I dressed him as as our soldier. Sister Patterson and I whispered to each other in agreement that they were so prepared! At the end of the tour I stayed at the camera to take the family photos. When I walked out to gold panning the member couple from Colorado that were on my tour were standing there with this man and were explaining about the Book of Mormon to him. The wife looked at me and said, "Could you please get this man a Book of Mormon?" I looked at her a little bewildered and said, "Sure!...I'll be right back!" I came back and handed it to him and continued to listen to these amazing member missionaries bear their testimony on the spot to this man about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The man, Armando, then said, "I have been looking for something. I just need something. I lost my daughter 2 years ago." The member looked at me and said, "Do you have a Plan of Salvation pamphlet?" I said, "We sure do!" She said, "This Sister will take good care of you!" I walked back with him and as we talked and he told me of his loss and his search I thought of how the temples mean families can be together FOREVER....then I thought: "Wait! The Gilbert temple open house is in January! I will be home! I can take him and his wife through the temple open house!" I turned to him and told him my desire to do so and he said he would LOVE that! THEN, as I was getting his phone number, I asked where in Arizona he lived....He said, "Chandler." I said, "Oh me too! What part?" ...."Oh on Gilbert and Riggs Rd." I stopped him in astonishment as he told me of the neighborhood he lived in by Alberston's and I said, "Armando, you did notice my name was Sister Riggs right?....you know one block up on Gilbert and Chandler Heights where the Bashas and CVS Pharmacy are? (He nodded) ...and that random farmhouse on the corner? (yep!) That's my family!!! You literally live less than a mile away from my house!" He stared at me speechless and we just said "Wow!" I told him that it always amazes me when things like this happen! He said he knew it was no coincidence and he would never forget this day! I told him then that I would personally keep in touch with him and his wife and then I said, "You know what! Will you call my dad and ask him if you can go to church with him this Sunday?" He said, "Wow! Really? I would love to go to your church!" I gave him my dad's number and told him he'd love to go with him! Ha ha sorry dad! I volunteered you because I know you are a perfect friend for him! = ) Armando was so grateful and knew without a doubt he was lead to the Battalion that night. All this time, Sister Patterson was talking to his wife and learned that their son was diagnosed with cancer at age 14 and beat it....then, not many years later, their daughter was diagnosed and it took her life 2 years ago. The wife has become a bit hardened because of it and the husband has been softened. I left that experience on Cloud 9! Alma 26: 37 "Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever!" So true! I am so excited to have missionary work to continue with this sweet man and his wife when I get home! Until then, Dad! You and the missionaries got this!
Well, I also mentioned some struggles this week. I can't say much, just that Satan must not be very happy with the strengthening, unity, love, and rescuing that has been happening in our branch over the past few months. His opposition was seen and felt this week and I experienced one of the most difficult days of my mission on Friday. Praying for the power of Paul in my speech and for the gift of discernment....having to stand up and be bold and even rebuke a little bit....then comfort, heal and try to save those who were hurt. All I have been thinking is that I have been living a Book of Mormon story this week. All the times when the scriptures say there was peace in the land and no contention and then someone comes to stir up the hearts of the people and there begins to be divisions among them. Or like in Alma 12:3 "Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;
And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out
Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his power in thee. Now I would that ye should remember that what I say unto thee I say unto all.
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity."
It has broken my heart to have all of this happen in my last few weeks...but there must be opposition in all things....Friday night I came home and in my prayers I felt prompted to open my scriptures. I told Father in Heaven that I needed comfort, then I stuck my thumb in my scriptures and opened to these verses. 2 Nephi 4: 1 "And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.
And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad..."
The bold parts where exactly what I needed to hear and I was comforted as the spirit spoke to me through the scriptures and Heavenly Father answered my prayers. This is a real battle out here! And Satan is hard at work!
D&C 10:24 "Yea, he stirreth up their hearts to anger against this work."Through all of this though, Heavenly Father blessed us with a new investigator!There is a girl who has been coming to church with her cousins who isn't a member and I am PRAYING fervently to have another baptism before I leave and I have asked her about meeting with us before...but I have 4 weeks left and this is it! After Sacrament meeting I just started another conversation with her and basically said, "you have followed the example of your cousins in coming to church....do you like what you have learned and felt here? (yes) Do you believe it's true? (yes) Then will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?" She said she has been thinking about it but wants to learn and understand more...I said, "Well will you let us do our job and teach you?!" We added her and are meeting with her tonight for the first time = ) I hope she accepts our invitation for baptism on Nov 23rd...the weekend before I go home. That'd be the best gift ever!
Love you all so much! Have a happy and safe Halloween! Send pictures!!!