Hello friends and family,
Lot's of great things have happened this last week and a half. The temple was wonderful as always, and some of my favorite members from 9 Mile took us (because we also went with the 9 Mile sisters). It was fun!
This week we had a miracle with a lost wallet. Two weeks ago Sister McDonald and I found a wallet on the ground. We knocked on all of the doors around but no one answered. So I wrote down the address for a later date and stuck the wallet in the glove compartment. Fast forward two weeks. We are at FHE because we'd just had a lesson with an investigator who was there and then our evening appointment cancels. Which is fine, but then we literally could not find any female fellowship to come to our next lesson with a single guy who we'd already rescheduled with 2 other times for the same reason. So we cancelled on him. I was so frustrated. So many of our plans fell through and I didn't know where to go. So we get in the car and I decide to go get some gas. As we're at the gas station, Sister Stratton finds the wallet and asks about it. So I explain and we decide to go try an return it. We knock on the first door and the lady says she doesn't recognize the name or picture on the high school girl's ID, but she pointed us across the street to her neighbors and says they've been there for a long time and they might know who it is. So we cross the street and knock on that door. The lady opening it was skeptical, but we explained. Then out of nowhere we hear this girl yell "Sisters!! Mosiah 3:19!" You don't hear that often- and we had no idea who she was. So the older lady invited us in. Come to find out this 25 year old girl was baptized 2 years ago (but went less active) and was going to move into our ward the next week! We were able to have a lesson with her and her non member boyfriend who at one point was on date to be baptized apparently. She wasn't going to be there that night but stopped by to drop off a rent check- it's just crazy how all these little things get orchestrated. There is no doubt in my mind that God exists and that He loves us and is involved in the details of our lives.
We also went on exchanges twice last week. The first one I had a pretty young new missionary come out to work in YSA with me. It was a cold day but we saw a lot of miracles. The other time I got to have my dream exchange. I went to 9 Mile (of course!) And got to be with Sister Haynes, my old (and one of my favorite) companion! She goes home this transfer and is sweep training there. SO I helped her get things mapped out and updated for her so things weren't quite as stressful. While planning the night before I made sure we weren't going to the same people that we usually do. Whenever I go on exchanges there the sisters set up appointments with the families (less actives and recent converts) who really love me- and I love that. But I really felt like it was more important to not do that, and we had some miracles from it! We picked up a former investigator, and we found a new investigator! And that night we had stake conference so I was able to see tons of the members there. A few weeks ago I emailed Sister Abrams about crock pot recipes since we recently acquired one, and she not only emailed me some recipes, but she gave me a box full of all of the ingredients needed to make them all! I just love her :) That ward is too good to me. It honestly feels like family now (another blessing of being there for 9 months).
This week, though it had some great highlights, proved to be stressful. This ward had like 10 baptisms in the last year and almost every single one of those recent converts is struggling. I literally have no idea what to do. It's emotionally draining to have people tell you over and over again that their testimony is failing... Many of these people won't even set up/ keep an appointment with us to be able to talk about it so our conversations are through text. I've had a lot of sleepless nights and shed a lot of tears over wanting to help these people out so badly. Why don't they see it? I know that they are so valuable to Heavenly Father and I don't want to lose them. This church is what saves people. I just don't have any solutions right now and I feel like the weight of it all is on me because this is happening "under my watch". Though if I'm being honest, when I have thoughts like that the spirit rebukes me almost immediately and tells me "You're doing all you can. You are successful. They still have their agency." But still. I wish there were more I could do. I hope members understand the impact they have on the work. If they are not engaged in their home or visiting teaching, the people struggle. If they don't bother forming friendships with them or acknowledge them on Sunday (or any day for that matter) recent converts and returning less actives struggle. My challenge to you this week is to find out from your missionaries who a recent convert or returning less active is, and then go talk to them! Be their friend. Help them as they're making this difficult transition. Help them see that it's infinitely worth it to stick it out! Please help. There are missionaries like me all over who are dying for the help of the members- this work is not mine alone. It's shared with the Lord and the members. We all need to do our part in hastening the work of saving souls.
Okay. Rant over. Sorry. But I haven't been this frustrated or at a loss in a very long time. This may be the Lord forcing me to see that I can't do this on my own and need to seek guidance from Him more in this work. It's an incredible responsibility to be a missionary. I absolutely love it though! I am learning so much each day and feel I am slowly become better prepared for the life ahead of me. This church and the restored gospel are true. I wouldn't be this passionate about finding, reactivating, and retaining if it weren't.
Okay, I want to end on a more positive note. I want to share about Josh Nay. He is a less active that we have been working with for a little over a month now. (I think I've shared a bit about him before, so sorry if any of this is a repeat). He was baptized when he was 12ish but was never ordained. He was open to taking the lessons and we've been teaching him weekly for a month-ish now. His best friend is serving a mission in St. Louis and has been emailing him constantly and inviting him to really learn about this. Josh never really had a testimony when he was baptized, and his family was active for less than a year before they fell away again. He has absolutely started glowing since meeting with us. He's come to church the last 3 weeks and has been reading the Book of Mormon. He's recognizing the spirit more and more in his life and says that taking the sacrament and meeting with us and reading his scriptures, etc. just feels right. The last two weeks we started having the lessons in his best friends home (even though Peter Fullmer is on a mission, his family still loves Josh and is so excited about this all! And we bring his friend Gracie McClellan with us) The spirit is so strong in member homes! This last week we had a lesson solely on the priesthood and the honestly half of us were crying by the end because you could feel the spirit so powerfully. We invited Josh to meet with the bishop about getting ordained and he agreed. But you can tell he's just taking this so seriously. He wants to make sure he fully understands it and that his testimony is strong. Gosh. I love teaching less actives who are willing to make changes and can feel how the gospel is making their life better. I leave every lesson with him just smiling my little heart out. It's people like that that make it worth fighting through all of the struggles.
God loves me. And He loves you too! If you don't feel that right now, please kneel down and ask Him to let you feel that love. I promise He's there and that He'll answer you.
I love you all! Have a great week! :)