Okay, let's see... we got to go to the temple today, which is always such a precious experience. I love the temple so much! It always makes me miss y'all though because it feels pretty unnatural to be separated from family. At the same time, it makes me so much more grateful to be out here, because it's a reminder of why I'm here. I'm already sealed with you for eternity. Other families don't have that joy yet, so that's why I'm here. The temple is just great. And that's sweet of Sis Wilks to text you those pics. She's awesome.
So, miracle 1: this one starts about a month ago. We were tracting, and met this woman from Nigeria who said she wanted to come to church but needed a ride. But when we tried to get her phone number to confirm, or set a lesson or anything, she refused, and said that if she ever wanted a ride, she'd call us. So, that translates into "we'll never see you again, have a good life" lol. But then, on Thursday, she called us out if he blue and wanted a ride to church!! Her name is Esther. She has a really thick accent and a slight language barrier, but is super sweet. She isn't interested in lessons right now, but wants to come to church again next week, so who knows? We're excited for her.
Then, on Saturday, we met this awesome family, the Wrays, who are less active, but trying to return. They have a 10 year old daughter that isn't baptized, that we'll be trying to work with. They set a return appointment for next Sunday, and were at church last Sunday! Plus, the week before. So we're so excited for them! Their son (in his early 20s) is the one that has sparked their return, so it's still fragile, but we're super happy for them.
Okay though, Sunday was amazing! We had Esther, the Wrays, the Foys, and two investigators there! The Foys are a part member family with an 8-year old son that's not baptized yet. Brother Foy isn't a member, and isn't meeting with us. But Sis. Foy is returning to activity and we're meeting with Jesse (the son) to help him prepare for baptism. They've been struggling to get to church, so it was amazing to see them there! Even if Brother Foy hasn't come yet, he will someday!
As far as the investigators go: this ward is incredible. They were both YW (Tia and Karlee) and they came with friends! They both stayed all three hours, and Indicated to us they would like to meet with us and learn more! So, we're working to try to find time to actually make that happen. But it was so cool to have them there. We really have high hopes for them.
The last and maybe coolest miracle: we set a baptismal date with a couple!!! Their names are Tabby and Josh and they agreed to October 17th (though we'll be moving it to the 21st, because we accidentally set it for a Tuesday instead of a Saturday.... oops!) They met the Elmers (the manicotti people) at one of the church's self reliance classes. The Elmers then invited them over to meet with us, and they agreed! This was our first lesson with them. And the spirit was so strong! Tabby was literally in tears for lots of it. And she said the closing prayer, it was beautiful! She said it was the first time she'd prayed in years, but that she would start every day. At multiple points in the lessons, she said that she felt happy and full and that she had been led to that living room for the lesson! How cool is that? The catch is: our area is so tiny, that even though they live close, they're in a different ward... :/ so, we have to refer them to some other missionaries... L but still, so awesome! And an amazing experience to have! They are so prepared! It was a joy to teach them, even if it could only be that once.
A sweet experience that we had in connection with that: the Elmer's 12-year old daughter sat in for the lesson. She bore powerful testimony during the lesson of the Book of Mormon. It was so cool to have her words. At the end, she told us that she had felt prompted to share, and she totally was! It was so perfect for Tabby and Josh. She then told us that it had been one of the best nights of her life. How amazing is that? It was such a powerful reminder to me of the joy that missionary work really is. Sometimes as missionaries we get so caught up in it all, I think we can forget to remember the simple joy of teaching the truth.
We also had a fun experience yesterday, we got to mow someone's yard! There is a less active sister (Sis Calloway) that we contacted in the morning. She has a ton of stuff going on in her life right now that is just making it really hard for her (including financial and physical). As we were talking, we knew we really couldn't help with most of it, but one thing she said had been on her mind, is how overgrown her law was (clearly a case of, it's not actually important, but the tip of the iceberg) The lawn, however, is something we can do! So, we borrowed a member's lawn mower from the neighborhood, and mowed her lawn. But we made the mistake of doing it in the heat of the day! It was so hot! But so worth it. She came out while we were in the middle of it. Gave me a big hug and said, "y'all are crazy! I didn't know Mormons even owned pants!" Lol J pretty sure she meant "missionaries" but it was still funny. She also agreed to come to the women's conference this Saturday! She said that that was a doable step. Because she feels overwhelmed at the idea of actually coming to church right now. In her own words, she said she feels like she's close, so she's throwing up extra walls to make sure it's what she really wants. I think the lawn
tore down one of those walls. J
The coolest part of all this is? This is totally HIS work. End of story. I feel like all of our hard work is being rewarded, but not directly from anything we're doing. The members are bringing people. The less actives are wanting to return. The work is hastening, and we're just happily doing whatever we can to "push along". We really think these miracles are coming from the amazing 40 day fast the ward is doing. What a powerful force: the faith of the saints in unity. It's been such a joy witness it.
Well, I've already written a novel this week. Sorry! I hope you enjoy it, and I totally understand if you skim:) sorry I didn't get to really respond to anything you sent me! I loved reading your emails! It sounds like it's been an amazing week up there! The game sounds like it was a blast (thanks for the pics!), and the lake sounds beautiful (and looked beautiful from Ky's pics). I look forward to being out on it again next summer! Swimming and water stuff is definitely one of the biggest sacrifices of a mission. #worthit #onesummer #goodtiming #lol I look forward to getting those recipes:) and I can't believe how little time we have left in the transfer! Sis. Gorley keeps saying she doesn't think I'm going to get transferred... I don't know how I feel about that, honestly. I think I will be. But, you never know! Maybe I won't be. Fingers crossed? I don't even know what to hope for this go around. Whatever God wants:)
I love you so so much! I hope you have a wonderful wonderful week! You're in my prayers! I hope everything works out smoothly:)
All my love,
Sister Erika Marks ☀