My week was full of lots of things. Fun things, new things, old things, hard things, special things, and things I'm glad I did.
Fun things: Walking in the morning with Brother Bledsoe at the park next to our house was one of the highlights. Describing this man is pretty much impossible-you have to meet him to understand the fullness. I cherish the time I have to spend with him. I love hearing about his exciting life, complete with stories of how he was an arson investigator, pilot, firefighter, police man...now he holds the priesthood and 4 callings! He just got called to attend our weekly missionary coordination meetings to help us coordinate with the elders quorum. What can I say? I'm kind of in heaven. Sister Jager tells me that we both light up whenever we see each other.
George McWhorter invited us to a fish fry he was cooking at down at the baptist church in Lockesburg. We had a big time with all the baptists. :) The fish was good, the people were wonderful, and the best part was the singin they had at the end. We sang a lot of old time gospel music. I even went up to the front to sing one. (A man named Floyd made me..I wasn't too happy about it. I dragged my companion and Sister Burnett's grandson with me.) We're having a branch social in Glenwood this Saturday and we invited all the baptists to come.
New things: Sister Hawthorn gave us some green onions from her garden. We started making these delicious sandwiches and putting the onions on the sandwich. I have never done that before but it's the best thing I've ever tasted! I have been thinking about it all week.
Old things: Do you remember my investigator from Hot Springs, Tiffany Martin? Her mom lives in Glenwood and she was visiting the other day. I got to see her and Cheyenna again!! It was wonderful. We read the scriptures together and enjoyed catching up. Cheyenna told me that she had 3 birthday wishes. I think the first two came true, and her third one was that she would get to see me again. I was touched. And it came true too!
Hard things: I'm going to go through this fast. Basically I had the chance to come home in July so that I could go to Brother Bledsoe's sealing in San Diego in August. I really wanted to. There were also other factors concerning my decision. I prayed and told Heavenly Father that I would do whatever He wanted me to do, but asked if He would tell me what that was. I was worried that I wouldn't receive a feeling either way. I decided to fast and ponder about it. When the time came to make the decision I knew what I must do. And it is that I must stay. I'm grateful that I received an answer to my prayer. Even though it was not the answer I wanted. But there are things to be done here and happiness to come I believe.
Special things: I heard Brother Smith give a prayer in church yesterday. As he closed in the name of Jesus Christ, I felt the spirit and power of those words and the meaning behind them. It's incredible to think that when we pray or speak in church or impart anything in the name of Jesus Christ, we are representing His love, feelings, and characteristics. When we have faith and believe that we are truly representing Him, the Holy Ghost can take that unto the hearts of those who will hear.
Things I'm glad I did: Farlene Tallant (91), a dear sister in our branch, passed away Friday evening. We called her Sister Farlene. I really liked Sister Farlene. Just before she died, she gave us about 10 referrals of old friends. She loved the Lord and His work. We got the chance to visit her on Tuesday, and I'm so glad we did! She was in a lot of pain but we didn't know how bad it was. I will never forget the end of that visit, when we sang "Count Your Blessings". She sang every word. Off key but so sweetly.
I am happily writing to you NOT from the senior center. We got a key to the church and we're using the computer in the mothers' lounge converted into the family history center. Well things are looking up here in Glenwood. I think by the time things get going real good will probably be around the time that I will have to leave. We've got some great things planned for the next few months. I've gotten more member referrals in the week I've been here than the entire last transfer. It's fun to see the branch get so excited. I realize that I have been a very spoiled missionary. For 9 months of my mission I lived closer to a temple than I did when I lived in Provo Utah. And after that President let me go back home to Glenwood Branch. :) The branch feels like home..the town though? Not so much. I think I'll get adjusted eventually. It has been getting better...but I do not care to go back to the beginning of the transfer! Man it was hard.
I learned a little more about opposition this week..in a hard but valuable way. I can't really describe to you the hardships of this week except that I felt the adversary threatening to completely overcome me. When you are going through something like that it is sometimes hard to identify what is actually happening. Satan is real! I felt such darkness and sorrow and lack of hope. I prayed hard, cried hard, and used all the strength I had...it was a hard week. By the time Friday came, I was so overwhelmed that I did not know what to do. It was that night that I felt the mighty prayers offered by many of you in my behalf. I went to sleep that night with a profound sense of comfort in my heart. I share this with you to testify to you that no matter the depth of the darkness we face, there is a light. Christ is the light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. It may be a long time before we can experience that pure light, but I have faith that it will always come. It's not to say that this week won't be even harder than last, but I gained something so powerful this week. I know that the comfort I received came from God.
Last week I got the great opportunity to go to dinner with some of my favorite people!! Sister Hawthorn and her stubborn husband Howard (do you remember me talking about him?) and Sister McWhorter and her stubborn husband George. We had a great time! We sat around and joked and laughed. I told them they could run but they couldn't hide because I'm back to finish what I started and get them baptized! It was all in good fun but I am not kidding. We got talking about how the McWhorters just built a new house and President Palmer(who is a carpenter-and a good one at that) was in the process of making cabinets for their kitchen. Well, they weren't quite done yet and George was pretty grumpy about it. As we talked about it all George said, "well President Palmer is gonna have to lay his hands on those cabinets before he can lay his hands on my head!" I said, "We can arrange that!" :)
I got to see a part member family I used to visit last year-Alan and Linda Myhill. It was fun to see them again. Alan is the one who is native american. He showed us things about his ancestors, the jewelry he makes, taught us to play his flute and dance the rabbit dance while we tried to teach him about Jesus Christ. Well the trade didn't go as well as we had hoped. He wasn't really into the whole prayer thing. When we visited him on Saturday I was surprised at what happened. Not 5 minutes into our visit he told us of his dear friend who is dying. He was very upset about it. He asked if we could have a prayer. We testified to him that God could give him a comfort that he could not find anywhere else if he would pray to Him. I hope this door stays open and that he will be receptive to our message.
I hope you have a great week and if you get tempted to complain about hot weather just be glad you aren't in Arkansas. :) haha. I love you all!
Sorry about the late email. I have found myself in different circumstances...living in the smallest town ever! Population:2,228. Glenwood feels a lot different now that I'm living here, not just coming to visit a few times a week. There are many wonderful things about it, but it is just weird. We tried to find computers to do our emailing, but the public library was closed. The next thing I know, I'm sitting at a computer at the senior center trying for over an hour to connect to the internet. When I finally did, I had to wait for about 30 seconds for the computer to catch up every time I typed a couple of words. Then the senior center closed, so we just had to reschedule the rest of our emailing. Probably more information than you ever wanted to know!
Well...the first week in a new area is rough. Cameron knows how it feels- but I also know how Cameron feels to be transferred right before your investigator gets baptized. Although I couldn't be there, I am overjoyed to know that Debbie got baptized! Finally! I snuck to her house right before transfers last week to say bye to her. She hugged me like I was the prodigal son. We were so happy. She thanked me for never giving up on her. It almost didn't feel real to hear her say that. She knows it's true and she did what she needed to do. I was very sad to miss her baptism, but I heard it went well. I still organized her musical number and told her that I would be there in spirit in the form of Elder Keddington. (we were supposed to sing on her original baptism date). I hate to say it, but it just wasn't the same.
Now I'm back in Arkansas and it feels completely different. Going back to the Hot Springs/Glenwood area brought back soo many memories. In some ways I'm glad to be back. Everything is all worth it because of what happened last Thursday. I went to pay Brother and Sister Bledsoe a visit. My heart was pounding the whole drive there. We arrived at his house, I jumped out of the car, and then ran to his door. I wondered if anyone had told him I was here again. As he opened the door, my feelings overcame me. Tears streamed down his face and mine as well. I sat at his feet just like I used to do and witnessed the change that has taken place in this man's life. There he was talkin like he's been a member of the church his whole life! He told me promptings he'd received from the Holy Ghost. He told me about how he has read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and he's now reading the Book of Mormon for the second time. He is going to the temple to be endowed and sealed the first week of August. It was great to just be in his presence again and feel the spirit with him-something that was not present a year ago. I cannot describe the feeling that came into that room. I have never felt so happy in my entire life. I say that with all honesty. I find new meaning in the scripture that says "If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father". I can say with no trace of doubt that I felt pure joy that night.
And ever since then, we've been inseparable! Yesterday we went out walking with him for our exercise in the morning. Now you remember that this man is a walking champ, don't you? He's competed in all the surrounding states and won medals and trophys and everything under the sun for the senior olympics. He still teaches walking classes at the YMCA. Well, we walked. And walked. And walked. And Brother Bledsoe talked. And talked. And talked so long! We had to cut him off early because we had to go do our studies. I won't lie to you...I got out-walked. By a 90 year old man!!! My goodness. I will cherish that. He walked us back to our apartment and saw a couple a few apartments down who were struggling with a chair they were setting up in front of their house. He said, "oh I wonder if they need help!" He rushed over there and we helped them. He probably would have done that before, but he really has changed. I love the scripture in Moses that talks about how the spirit "maketh alive all things". Well Dick Bledsoe was pretty alive before, but I'm not sure he'll ever stop now that he has the spirit! We're both brought to tears every time we see each other. We're kind of a mess. haha. During our walk, he told us about last year (his final year of the senior olympics). He said he would have taken first in everything but he didn't. Then pointing at me, he said, "and it's all your fault!". I really couldn't remember why...but he went on to say that the 5-k that he usually won was held on Sunday. He chose not to participate in it because he had just been baptized. I don't know why I forgot that sweet story..but there it is. I am glad I could come back to spend this time with him. He is so dear to me.
Well I am training a new sister. Her name is Sister Jager from Oregon. She lives close to Salem. I told her my brother served his mission there. I wasn't sure the exact area, but I knew it was in the same mission as where she lives. She is completely different than I am! It's a good thing.. but we are adjusting. We have been finding and working with the members who are excited to have us. I don't think I'm ever very good at telling you about my companions...if you want to know anything in specific, just ask me. I will try to remember to answer your questions. Maybe that's the problem. haha. sorry.
I hope you are all doing well. I will leave you with a question my mission president asked us today.
Are you willing to follow Jesus Christ and perservere through the trials that come? The way to do that is to focus all of our thoughts on Him.
Things are shaking up in the mission. I think we have 25 missionaries coming this week..something like that. I am training and about 12 or 13 other sisters are training too. It's hard to believe that my transfer in Lakeland is almost over- I hope my experiences here have been in preparation for opening Glenwood next transfer. We've done a lot of finding and I got to feel what it's like to start from scratch. It wasn't completely scratch, but compared to what it is now it seems to have been. We've done a lot of work! I'm not as nervous going to Glenwood as I was for Lakeland because I feel like I'm ahead in that I already know the members. I can't even tell you how excited I am to see Brother and Sister Bledsoe. This is a pretty sweet deal.
Lots of changes are happening. My MTC companion Sister Edwards had to go home early because she was sick. I am sad because I really wanted to go hom with her. :( Sister Martell is actually being transferred out of Bartlett. She's unhappy about it. She just told me some great news about Debbie! So Debbie got up in church yesterday and bore her testimony that she knew the Book of Mormon was true. Then, unbenounced to Sister Martell, she announced that she was getting baptized on June 8 and invited everyone to her baptism. It's hard to describe the joy I experienced when I heard this. I think it is a joy that only a missionary knows. It seems so many days that what I do doesn't make a difference, doesn't help anyone. But when I am able to see that Debbie has obtained such a precious knowledge-a knowledge that can only come through the hardest of work. This knowledge requires deep soul searching, pondering, and the most sincere prayer we can offer. It is only then that we understand how precious the knowledge is because of what it took to get us there. Everything we have to give to someone else will always be worth it because of the feelings and knowledge of the spirit that we gain. It is meaningful to me to think of what I love most in my life..it is the people. My family and those I serve with and for. That is the reason I will give what I have to give.
Now a few thoughts I had this week:
You know you've been a missionary too long when you're driving on the freeway, glance over to see a building with a big word printed on the wall that actully reads "Laminates" but you thought it said "Lamanites".
I commented- "Oh my gosh, did you see that building? It said Lamanites. I can't believe that building says Lamanites! So weird!"
You know you've been a missionary too long when you're sitting at dinner with members, and their 14 yr old son starts talking about the scout trip he's going on where he'll travel by sailboat- with fishing, anchors and everything- and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is "Sweet, Alex you're gonna be like a disciple! Think of all the spiritual parallels you could draw".
Do you want to hear a good joke?
(Joseph Smith who?)
Well let me tell you about him! :)
Isn't that the best joke you've ever heard??? Elder Webster made it up. hahahaha.
I love you all! Pray for me....I'm going to the furthest reaches of the mission...I don't know if I'll come back alive.