Hola hola hola! I truly hope that everyone had a beautiful week! This past week has been a very wonderful one for me. Let me tell you about each day....
Monday, we hopped on the bus and went to the Frist- the visual arts museum here- and had a lovely time looking at the art they had depicting wars of old and in our time. There was a part of the museum that was all hands in and they had all kinds of things to do! We drew self portraits, made Chinese lanterns, sketched a dummy, made our very own original print that we sketched and carved into styrofoam. A lovely woman from Prussia helped us and she was such a delight to talk to! That night we went to different stores by our place and invited every Hispanic we saw to our open house that weekend and met some really cool people from Mexico and Brazil. We were able to visit a woman, Maribel, who we hadn't seen in a while and she fed us candy as we talked about what makes our church different from others. We ended the night by visiting with our friend Jay on our way home who is amazing because when I first met him he said he was atheist but he's read in the Book of Mormon a little bit and I can see his heart truly softening.
Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with our friend Carmilla about the plan of salvation. It was amazing because it was completely led by the Spirit and our experience from the mission. We went and visited our favorite girl Alisa at her work and she completely spoiled us and fed us pizza, meatballs and gelato! She works at the cutest place called CoCo's Italian Market-they play cute old music from the rat pack days, have a bocci ball court and have all kinds of goodies from Italy! It was just nice getting to see Alisa and see her in her work element- she's amazing! As we were waiting for the bus afterwards I looked at Hna Schmit and told her that we weren't supposed to get on the bus yet, we were supposed to go to a thrift store- so we walked to Goodwill and the second got to the door, our favorite recent convert, Ana Maria, and her cute son Jeremy walked up and she had a referral for us! Miracle! We were able to teach a family we met at Walmart previously and taught then about prayer. We ended our night with Elvin. Elvin Elvin Elvin...he is such an interesting person! I just love him! We had a really good lesson about faith, repentance and baptism and he had so many good questions as usual!
Wednesday we had an awesome Zone Meeting! We were going to leave at 6 AM and hop on the bus to Antioch for the meeting but the Donaldsons saved our lives and gave us a ride! There were so many good training so given by our leaders about charity, working with the ward, finding and having powerful visits with those that we love. I was really inspired by he one about charity- I was asking Heavenly Father the night before how I was going to get through the rest of my mission, because sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but in that meeting He told me through the Spirit, "Charity will carry you these next two months." It was just what I needed to hear and I gained a renewed energy to serve others with love and serve in whatever capacity I can. After the meeting we had exchanges and I went with Sister Larsen (my good friend from Paducah!) to her area and got to do English work for the day! It was so neat meeting their investigators and feeling the immediate love that Heavenly Father has for them. I was able to speak to the Hispanics we saw and met a man who had read the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price already! He said he would love for the Spanish missionaries in his area to come by and I hope they make it over there and visit him more! I learned a lot about being guided through humble prayers from Sis Larsen, she's an awesome missionary.
Thursday morning I came back to West Nash with a new hop in my step and happily charged the streets, talking to everyone! We stopped by and wished one of our favorite little girls a happy birthday and later that night we had dinner with our favorite Hermana Paty again and it was amazing! I got to do her daughter Cynthia's makeup and hair for her 8th grade dance. It was so fun spending time with her and making her feel good about herself. She looked so cute for the dance and was so excited to show her friends her new look! I LOVE that family! We were able to visit with Victor later that night and read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon and it was amazing! He is just soaking everything up and just lights up when we are there!
Friday we had a really good weekly planning session- everything just came together really fast and there was time left over so I gave Hna Schmit a haircut! I am starting to feel a huge pull to go back into that kind if work when I get back! I was so impressed with my cutting abilities even though I haven't practiced cutting hair.....like forever! That day we went and visited Adriana and the girls and she was suuuuper nervous because her mother and sister-in-law were on their way from Mexico and she hasn't seen them in 9 years! We were able to bring the Spirit of peace into her home and talked to her about her potential as a daughter of God. She is so close to the Spirit and understands everything we share with her, she's just trying to find the courageous change some things in her life right now. She's incredible. I just love and adore her.
Friday night we had an open house, no one really came but members, but it was good for the ward to be reminded of what the programs in the church really teach and why we have them. We had a recent convert come and he just loved it and was excited to meet more members!
Saturday was a gorgeous day. We started off giving service at the pantry again. I just love that place and each and every single person that is there. I love the volunteers we work with and I love the people that we get to help. There are a handful of guys that come and volunteer that live in the penitentiary and they are incredible. We've developed really great friendships with them and last week we gave them all a Book of Mormon and I was able to testify to them that the book has given me the hope and peace that I can truly put my past behind me and start new through Jesus Christ. They each said that is exactly what they want in their lives and one of them, Jay, met with the Elders and loved his visit with him. I have a solid testimony that service softens people's hearts, it is sharing the gospel through our actions and doors will be opened for us over time to share the message of Jesus Christ. I have seen this in just the 8 weeks we've been helping out at the pantry. I was reading in the Book of Mormon this week and reading King Benjamin's words truly touched my heart when he spoke of service. I have often wondered what kind of person I want to be after my mission and I feel so strongly that I just want to live a life of service. I want to always be abounding in good works. I invite you all to find some way this week that you can serve in whatever capacity your time and talents allow you.
After the pantry, we brought food up to Adriana and her girls. Well, the bus never came and we walked a little over a mile to get to her apartment up a really steep hill. In that moment as the weight of the food was hurting my shoulders and my back, I tried to imagine how Christ must have felt as He carried up the cross to Calvary. I can't imagine the pain He was in. My pilgrimage up the hill was well worth it, as we unpacked the food for them onto their table, their eyes lit up and Adriana was so grateful. This must be just a piece of the joy that our Jesus Christ must feel as our Savior- because He is able to give us something far greater than food- He has provided us with a way to receive eternal life and live with our families forever. I will never forget this moment in my mission.
Throughout the day Saturday we were able to visit a less active who cannot come to church because she works every Sunday. When we first got there, I felt super stressed as her son was yanking my glasses off my face and trying to hit me with things, she was speaking badly about someone we knew and I just wanted to cry. I said a little prayer in my heart and asked Heavenly Father what we could do to bring the Spirit into their home. She mentioned that she loved singing hymns so we stopped the conversation that was going in and asked to sing a hymn and share a message. We started with Nearer My God To Thee and the tone of our visit did a 180 as her friend, who was also a less active member, began to cry during the hymn. I started to cry as well and my heart just hurt thinking about when the last time was that these woman had felt the Spirit in their lives. We read from Jacob 3:1-2 in the Book of Mormon that says:
1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.
Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
2 O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.
I shared my small testimony about how in reality, the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, is not only the word of God, but the LOVE of God. There is no better way for us to feel of His love and support than to take time from our busy days and read from His holy words. The Spirit was so strong in that moment and as we closed, I shared my experiences that I have had in the past when I am having a rough time, and I read from the BOM and hear my Heavenly Father telling me that everything is going to be okay. We ended with the hymn Come Come Ye Saints and I just felt so much peace. This experience was so needed and afterwards I took time to say a prayer of thanks, I am so grateful that my Savior was able to turn my heart full of anxiety and frustration to peace and love and hope. I know that we can all have these experiences of we take time to say a little prayer, sing a hymn or read from the scriptures.
Saturday night we had a great lesson with Elvin and his friend Jose who we had met once before but couldn't get a hold of him! It was such a miracle to see him again and have the opportunity to teach him.
Sunday was beautiful as well! Elvin and Victor both came to church and stayed for our Sunday school class where we talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost! Exactly what we had taught both of them earlier that week! Victor came with us after church to a member's home for a BBQ and it was good for him to get to know other members and have friends!
Victor was just full of happiness all day! He loved church and was just glowing and had the biggest smile! That night we were able to meet with our cute friend Flor and afterwards we tried some people but they didn't want to listen. I felt like we needed to leave the apartment complex we were at and head down the hill. So we did. Then as we got to Annex Rd, we felt promted to visit a referral that we only have been able to see once. Well we walked up and all the lights were out. Just as we were about to wall away we heard a voice in the backyard and as we walked around back, there was our friend Jose! We taught him the Restoration in the dark of the night with our iPads and it was incredible! The Spirit worked through each of us so perfectly to teach to his needs and understanding! He is coming to church on Sunday!
I love being a missionary. I hope that you all can feel that. I treasure my calling at this time and the opportunity that I have to serve in this unique way. It has meant everything to me and has completely changed my life. My heart breaks thinking about having to leave soon. I'm sure that seeing all of our faces again will make it bearable :)
I love each of you so much and feel so lucky to have such amazing people in my life from before my mission and in my mission. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope you can feel of their love for you personally this week.