Dear Family and Friends,
What a wonderful week! Can't be a bad week when you have General Conference in your life! Oh how I loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, "We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet!" The spirit was sooooo strong! I turned to Sister Miller, whom I was sitting next to), and our eyes were both wide and we both just said, "WOW!" I DO thank my Father in Heaven for a living prophet and apostles on the earth today who can speak to us with so much boldness and yet so much love! Who can speak right to our very hearts. Nothing greater! So many wonderful addresses, but two of my favorites were Elder Bednar's and Elder Eyring's talks. I must really love my family...because the talks that made me think of them were the ones I could not keep the tears from flowing.
The week started off with the great experience of taking our recent converts to the Family History Center to help them begin their work and prepare names to take to the temple. There is so much excitement doing family history with them! Our most recent convert, Kelsey, had miracles happen. We didn't have her record number yet because she is so newly baptized, but we were able to call Salt Lake and retrieve it. The branch temple night was the next day and we thought it would be neat for her to have a family name, but didn't know if we could make it happen that fast. Well, thanks to the miracle workers at the center, she walked away that night with all the info in place to be able to be baptized on behalf of her mother, who died from illness just a couple of years ago. Oh how I wish I could have been there with her! We met with her last night to teach a lesson about Temples, and asked her about her experience. It was so beautiful and she had us both in tears. She told us of how excited she was as she walked in...that people were talking to her and explaining things to her but she wasn't really listening. She was just in such amazement and kept looking up and around in awe at the beauty of the temple. She was so cute! She said that even the bathrooms and changing places were amazing! She said as she received the pink slip that read, "Wendy Cobb", her mother's name....that she just had to stop and stare at it, and it became real to her that she was about to be baptized in behalf of her mother. She said as she stood in the font and saw her mother's name that she was just overcome with the spirit and she felt an indescribable feeling of joy and peace....that as she came up out of the water there were tears and chlorine in her eyes, ha ha. She told us she has worn her mother's ring since she passed and she often feels it warm or burn when she feels her mother near and she said it was on fire as she was baptized. She also said, with tears streaming down her face, that she KNEW her mother accepted it....what a sweet and indescribable moment. At the beginning of our lesson, she had told us how life was really getting her down right now and that she was really worried about everything...finding a job, getting into school, what to major in school, finding a good guy, her self worth...and to add to all of that, being the only member of the church in her family and trying to stand strong when they judge her for going to church and activities so much, for fasting, for praying...(why people would judge these good things I don't know)...as she told us of her feelings in the temple and her experience, I thought of the reunion she and her mother would have someday. I looked at her and said, "Kelsey...." and then I was hit with a wave of emotion and I started to cry. I testified to her of what a sweet reunion she would have with her mother someday...that there would be many tears of joy and gratitude....and that she would thank her for being the one to bring her the blessings of baptism and covenants that she needed...for being the one who was strong enough, even facing opposition from family, to follow her heart and follow the Savior so the gospel could begin to spread to the Cobb family. It was a beautiful moment, and we were all a mess of tears. Kelsey is amazing and has already done so much good in a matter of 3 weeks that I know she is really upsetting the adversary, so now he is trying to upset her. But she is strong and her faith is steady and how wonderful it is that she has her covenants now, to bless and protect her!
I had my mission president's interview this week (my last one before my final exit interview! yikes!). I love every minute of our one-on-one time. He is a busy man and juggles so much, but I love the moments he takes for me. Every time I meet with him I feel uplifted and enabled. I know my interviews with him are like those I would have with the Savior if he were here. Before we finished, I asked him for an assignment. I said, "President, will you give me an assignment I can report back to you about when I visit with you again in the near future?" I had no idea what he would say and I didn't expect what he DID say...I thought it would have to do with my studies or something personally to ensure I finish strong. He pondered for a long moment, his face was filled with concentration, and then he held out two fingers and said, "There are 2 people...2 people that need rescuing that could help in building the kingdom of God...not necessarily investigators..." I just looked at him and asked, "2 People to rescue?" He confirmed, "Yes." With great desire I said, "I will find them President."
Now I feel a lot of pressure daily, as I do not want to fail him nor the Lord in finding these 2 people he has told me are out there and need rescuing before I leave my mission. Please pray that my eyes will be opened, and I will recognize them.
The crazy thing is that on Saturday we had a little miracle that I think may be one of those people he spoke of. We had watched the first session of conference and we taught a lesson and had lunch with the institute and we had a bit more time before the 2nd session. I have a confession...I stopped buying Diet Soda a couple of weeks ago! = ) I know, I know...I have been doing just fine without it too and just have one when we go out to eat....but I was thinking about how I'd love to have a Diet Dr. Pepper....and I had pushed the thought away thinking, "Nah, I'll just keep drinking my water..." I mentioned the craving to my companion and Sister Patterson said, "Well...we have some time." (But we didn't have a lot...like 20 mins...so I said, "Well OK, we'll run across the street and grab a soda and then we can stop by Max's house (the guy we met a couple months ago who hasn't been to church in 10 yrs) and invite him to come to the institute and watch conference with us." So we went...well, as we were walking up to the VONS, we saw a young man standing outside by the pumpkin boxes. Sister Patterson said hello and then I asked if he was waiting for a ride...we struck up a conversation and found out his name was Michael, he is 19, and he said, "oh yeah I am a Mormon." Ha! Oh yeah what?! We asked where he lived and found out he should be attending our Branch but he admitted he hasn't been to church in a long time and has been away from it. We invited him to conference but he said he was headed to a friend's birthday party.We exchanged numbers and told him about the branch and that we'd love to have him out there with us. He thanked us and went on his way. We walked in to VONS and both looked at each other with our jaws dropped. I said, "Seriously?!" Heavenly Father even uses my cravings for soda to do His work! Ha ha...Sister Patterson confirmed, "He seriously takes every situation!" We couldn't believe it! I said, "Is he the first one we need to rescue?! He's 19! Let's get him on a mission!" He is one of our new focuses = ) That Diet Dr. Pepper was definitely worth it!
We had another great miracle that same day just after the first session of conference. We invited a potential investigator to come to the institute to watch it with us. Her name is Julia and she enrolled in The Book of Mormon class for the semester. Afterwards we talked with her and she asked if I had seen miracles as a missionary....to name a few!!! I told her of the tiny miracles that were as great to me as parting the Red Sea. I told her about Mayra Valdez....the girl Sister Hudson and I happened to pass on the street one night in El Cajon due to prior circumstances lining up and of her conversion story. Her eyes glistened as I told her the story. We asked about her thoughts on conference. She said there was a line that stood out to her which was, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." I asked her, "What are some of your doubts or fears right now?" She said, "Whether I am strong enough to be a mother..." She then informed us that she was 4 months along....this young 22 year old student with a 33 year old boyfriend....We testified to her of Heavenly Father's love for her and of the peace, joy and happiness the gospel brings...how it gives us the strength to do what we think we can't or don't know how to do. We asked her if we could teach her about theses things and she said she would love nothing more! Then, without us even saying anything she asked, "Can I be baptized if I am pregnant?" Wow! Music to our ears! We told her she could and just mentioned that baptism was a covenant, so we promise to be obedient to God's laws and commandments, one being the law of Chastity...but that if she was willing to commit to live the things we will teach her, she could be baptized...even pregnant! = ) She cried and said, "Thank God for you guys....thank you for helping me to not feel so alone." Our hearts melted for her. We love her so much already. She told me too, that my story about Mayra touched her heart because Mayra has always been one of her favorite names, and what she wanted to name her baby = ). Coincidence that I shared that particular story? I don't think so!
We have a baptism this Friday for Alicia and we are so happy and excited for her. She is another, stalwart 18 year old.. Like Kelsey, she is doing this all on her own. Her father, who has always supported her in everything, does not support her in this decision, which is most important to her. But she is moving forward with faith and hope. Before her interview, we asked her what she hoped to gain from making this promise with God. She said, "I hope to be able to bless my family." She is like Lehi! She has tasted of the fruit of the tree of life and only desires to immediately share it with her family. Although it is a struggle now, she hopes that one day....1 yr, 5 yrs, 20 yrs from now, her father will want this too. The sweetest thing was bearing our testimonies to her at the end of the lesson and looking across to the other couch and seeing Alexis (an amazing member missionary who brought Alicia to us and who has now decided to work on her mission papers), Kelsey (a recent convert who was baptized just 3 weeks ago and who has been coming to lessons and bearing amazing testimonies and who has become best friends with these to girls), and Alicia (an investigator getting baptized this week who was about to have her baptismal interview)....3 powerful 18 year olds from 3 very different backgrounds but one in the gospel of Jesus Christ....I cried over the beautiful scene....what a blessing that was to see and be a part of.
I met the most amazing and pure 15 year old at a member's home this Sunday. As we met Dustin and asked him how he liked conference he said, "You know I loved the prophet's talk, because I after his wife died I felt so bad and worried about him, that I prayed for him every day for 3 months that he would be comforted and be able to get over the loss of his wife and be OK to keep going. Well, today when he said, 'I know that our separation is only temporary because we have been sealed in the temple' it was like the biggest answer to my prayers! Although sad for the loss, he seemed happy and at peace." Wow! Then later we came back by the house because I left something in the fridge and he answered the door and said, "Oh hey...sorry, I was just crying a little bit." We asked why and he said, "I was just watching this really cool video on YouTube of the life of Joseph Smith." I looked at him and said, "OK, PLEASE promise us this one thing..." He agreed and I said, "Never change!" You don't meet many 15 year olds like that! What a stripling warrior! I want to raise sons like that someday!
I love you all so much and felt a little closer to you this weekend knowing we were all watching conference together = ) I hope the spirit was able to comfort you and answer your individual prayers! You are all in mine!
All my love and hope,
We visited the Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Park...here's some pics I caught!
Just at the view of the ocean are these memorials to our fallen soldiers...beautiful!