Monday, March 12, 2012

First Week in Hot Springs Arkansas

Hey family and dear friends:

I am here in the mission field!  Hot Springs Arkansas.  President Petersen says it's the prettiest part of Arkansas.  There are a lot of trees.  It is green, not too humid yet, and has actually been raining quite a bit the past few days.  I spent a wonderful night in the mission home, with Sister Petersen's amazing cooking, and some great advice from President.  On transfer day, I said goodbye to lovely Sister Edwards and met lovely Sister Gladden from Virginia.  She is outgoing, very kind and very loving.  We get along really well.  On our way from North Little Rock to Hot Springs....haha.  Well we took a wrong turn, which cost us miles and minutes...then we got pulled over. :)  We were NOT speeding.  But the police officer seemed to think so, and he wasn't very nice about it. Oh well, we only got a warning.  I am staying with a member couple named the Griffens, who are in the Hot Springs Ward.  We are situated nicely, and I feel very at home.  Then the next day we just jumped right into the work.  Sister Gladden had set weekly goals with her last companion and by last night when we are supposed to report our goals to the district leader, we had met at least half of them and were close on all the rest of them...and that was in only 4 days!  We have been really busy and the work is going really well.  I have found myself more involved with it.  Wanting so badly for the investigator's hearts to be open because I know the gospel will bless their life.  I have met some wonderful people.  I like it because they are different than I am.  They of course have their accent, and they make fun of mine.  They are just willing to tell you their life story.  They have an easy way about them.  They don't judge me and I don't judge them.  Most of the people I've met, member and non-member, greet me with a hug when I first meet them. They call me honey and sweetie, and I just know they love me.  I've never met them before but I love them too.  I know that it is the Lord who is helping me to feel this love, and I have felt Him sustain me through Priesthood blessings and the sacrament. Yesterday I went to about 6 hours of church!  We are over the Hot
Springs ward and the Glenwood Branch, which are about an hour away from each other.  I think I met at least 100 new people yesterday. Apparantly they get a lot of missionaries from Utah because when I told them where I was from they'd say, "Oh I might have guessed.."  So I hope that's a good thing...?  Anyway it was ward/branch conference yesterday.  So I got out of speaking, and instead got to hear the bishops and the stake president.  Good men.  Humble men.  In Glenwood branch, their goal was to each bring one non member friend so they could fill their small chapel.  It was amazing to see, because they did!  They are getting excited about missionary work.  Most of them are older people, but even they took on the challenge.  I could feel the love they had for each other and the gospel, however small their branch might be.  I think there was a feeling there that wards I've been to in Utah kind of miss out on, being bigger and everything. They are all such good friends, and really hold to each other because the church is WAY smaller here.  Anyway, I was glad to be a part of it.  After church, Sister Hawthorne took us to her home because her husband Howard is one of our investigators.  He's been going to church for 12 years but never has been baptized.  He is dear friends with Brother Brumwell, and they have all been trying for years to help him to come to Christ by receiving the restored gospel. (that's my purpose too).  We went together and talked with him about joy, and where that truly comes from.  We talked about 2 Nephi 2.  Joy means becoming like God.  We do this through gaining a body, having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, becoming baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost.  We testified to him the power of the priesthood, that it is truly Christ's authority here on earth.  I told of the men in my family and my dear friends who I have seen transform into men of God through the
gospel of Jesus Christ.  I became grateful in a new way for these examples in my life because I was able to tell someone else the blessings I've experienced through that.  The spirit was there to testify, and even though Howard is a stubborn old man, I KNEW he felt it.  He was getting tears in his eyes.  Sister Gladden is an amazing teacher. I'm glad I get to learn from her. And I have much to learn. But she always drives it home Then Brother Brumwell said, "Howard, let me baptize you by the proper priesthood authority. You need to be baptized and the Lord's not gonna let me leave until you are".  He wanted to say yes, I just know it.   But, he said something like "Not right now, but if I were to be baptized, you'd be the one to do it". I know he will come around.  He loves his wife, Brother Brumwell, and can feel that God loves him.  It was an awesome experience. One more.  On Saturday night, it was about 8:30 pm, we had a prompting to visit a woman named Brenda. She is a 7th day adventist, and a very sweet woman. Sister Gladden taught her a few times prior and she was gaining a testimony.  We came in the door, and almost immediately, Brenda began to cry. She was very overwhelmed with the things in her life. She has got a lot going on.  We told her we were there to listen and testified of the prompting we got to come visit her.  She looked up to the sky and thanked Heavenly Father for sending "his angels" to her  that night.  She said that just when she felt like she couldn't handle everything He sent us to help her.  We testified of God's love and that she could receive that same peace and comfort through reading the Book of Mormon.  She kept saying, "God, you are awesome."  I thought of the hymn "How Great Thou Art", and we sang it to her before we left.  She cried through the whole thing.  It was very special.  Sister Gladden and I walked out so stoked!  She's gonna get baptized, Howard's gonna get baptized, and tons more people. :)  Many mighty miracles can happen.  I like the city we live in.  I can always tell by the way I feel when we are driving on the roads. I get distinct feelings about places when we drive.  Some places I hate driving in so I don't really like the place very much.  But I like driving here.  It is good. Well.  I love you all.  Hope you're doing well.  I really do love you, and I tell people about it every day! Go do something good for someone because they need it!  Everybody does.
        Sister Annalisa Wilde

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