My new companions are Sister Sagers, from California, and Sister Tanner, from St George. Both are 19, and both are doing great. They'll eventually be going to the Argentina, Mendoza mission. Argentina isn't really giving out visas right now, so we'll see what happens, but they'll probably be with us for awhile. The other sister in the mission waiting for a visa to Argentina is going on her third transfer here, so I just figure they're ours! We're doing good as a 4-ship. It's interesting to try to figure out how to double work the area. It would be easier if it wasn't SO huge! Everything has to be coordinated perfectly between places, people, who's working with who, it gets interesting but we'll get the hang of it. And if all goes as planned, we should teach a lot this week! Last week we suddenly saw so much progress! I don't even know where to start. The joke is that it's "greenie magic," but I think it's also the continued diligence, faith and work that Hermana Carolan and I have put in, despite ever being discouraged or exhausted.
About a week ago I was studying a pattern that we see a lot in the scriptures, as well as in all our own lives. Simply put, it's when the hard times come before more light. It's illustrated very well when Joseph went to the grove of trees. Right before he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, he felt an influence of thick darkness come over him. President brought this up to me at zone conference a week or two ago, and I've sort of been working and watching for when I would see a little more light. I found some words by Elder Holland that describe it perfectly: "There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision that virtually everyone in this audience has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our life.
In the marvelous account that we read too seldom, Joseph said he had scarcely begun his prayer when he felt a power of astonishing influence come over him. Thick darkness, as he described it, gathered around him and seemed bent on his utter destruction. But he exerted all his powers to call upon God to deliver him out of the power of this enemy, and as he did so a pillar of light brighter than the noonday sun descended gradually until it rested upon him. At the very moment of the light's appearance, he found himself delivered from the destructive power that had held him bound. What then followed is the greatest epiphany since the events surrounding the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ in the meridian of time. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and the dispensation of the fulness of times had begun.
A morning's devotional could be devoted to this subject of the adversary's strong, preliminary, anticipatory opposition to many of the good things that God has in store for us."
I think, well have observed, that we all experience this on different levels in life. Mine was a very small one, but still good to recognize. I haven't been in any "thick darkness" although I do recognize that the adversary is bent on my destruction. Me, as a missionary, working so hard to save the souls that he wants to destroy. I feel like all the times that I have had that were difficult in the mission weren't really that tough. They were, but deep down they weren't, because the one thing Satan's never been able to tempt me to do is to doubt whether or not I'm supposed to be here. We have to hold onto those moments of illumination! Those times where we received a witness of what we were going to do was right. (I don't know who's out there that needs to hear this, but I feel like I should include it.) Whether it be a mission, a marriage, education, a business idea, really anything we felt good about at once, we can't lose confidence that it is right! once again, Elder Holland says it better:
"Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don't give up when the pressure mounts. You can find an apartment. You can win over your mother-in-law. You can sell your harmonica and therein fund one more meal. It's been done before. Don't give in. Certainly don't give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. "Cast not away therefore your confidence." Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you."
Stay the course!! That's what I'm working on.
So anyway... this week, Vanessa is a new person! Her countenance is changed, and she's not moving to Mississippi!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which is so great, we were going to miss her family so much! And she's talking to her husband again, and he's trying to make things better, and her kids are doing well. Also, Vanessa told me she believes the Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph was a prophet. Wow. She said she knew she had to take the next step, which she determined was to come to church. For real, this time. It's been sort of a fear for her. But they all came! Even her husband (who does not want to be taught.) Super great.
And Judy came. Her husband said he wasn't going to bring her, but she threatened to take a series of busses to get to the church building, and he didn't like that so he brought her :) She's so funny. Also has almost a completely changed coutenance from a couple weeks ago when she tried to drop us. And she's being a little missionary. It looks like we have a new investigator in her neighboor. I haven't met her yet, Sis Carolan and Sis Sagers met her when they were teaching Judy.
Claudia even reached out to us this week and invited us to dinner. Which was awesome, because I haven't been transfered, but there were quite a number of teaching visits I didn't get to attend (because Sis C. and one other sister went) and Claudia was one of those. So it can kind of feel like a mini transfer! But she and Greysi were at church. And Vanessa's daughter, Cesia, is just a bit younger than Greysi, and they are both awesome kids. Speaking of Greysi, it feels like a month ago, but I guess it was Monday that we went to Greysi's talent show. She wore this crazy shirt, a tu tu, striped knee socks, and sneakers, and did a dance she choreographed to a song called "Tu Tu's and Tennis Shoes." It was adorable! Us missionaries were the only white people in that whole school gym! And it was maybe the most rockin elementary school talent show I've ever seen!
I feel like there are so many things that I will later remember, but that's all I can think of for right now. Oh, and we had Branch conference yesterday, and us missionaries did a special number that I accompanied. And I translated again in Sacrament. I think I might speak better than I think! Exciting. Of course, with new missionaries around me again, they think my Spanish is perfect. haha, I've decided languages are a lifetime persuit, but I speak what the Lord needs me to, when He needs me to. I am about to hit my year mark, which is totally insane. Just think, a year ago at this time, we were getting ready to go to the MTC in about a week. Wow, am I different from then! Just 6 months left, I think just 4 transfers. Crazy.
I hope you all have a fantastic week! I just took a look at the bagoblock website. It's been a while, and it sure looks great! How are things going with it? I'm curious to know.
It's a big week there at home, what with Will coming home and all. It's about to make me homesick! I just can't believe it. So please please post pictures from the airport or from anything you can, and give me the details next week. That helps me. Is he speaking this Sunday? And what day is he released? You are all in my prayers. I love you.