Even with all of that, I'm still learning. We all have agency, and we have to use that unique unmatchable gift to choose happiness, to choose His path for us, and to progress through our trials. We are never alone. I testify as a true representative of Jesus Christ that He is here to help us. I am so grateful for the gospel in my life, and for the atonement. It can be hard to change our perspective, it can be hard to recognize miracles, it can be hard to accept help... BUT that is what this time on Earth is for: to learn and grow, to make changes. Start now in 2014 with baby steps. Write down a blessing or a miracle each day of HOW you see the Lord working in your life, in the lives of those you love, and those around you. I promise you as you do this you will be privileged to recognize more of the tender mercies and workings of the Lord each and every day.
So for the news of my new years... I was on a back-to-back exchange. On New Years Eve I was with Sister Buenaventura in Clovis' Shepherd Ward. And I got there and realized in the morning I had mistakenly packed two bottoms and not enough tops (go figure). Then to start out our January 1st day I walk out to the car driver's side and see that we got egged. GROSS. Seriously that was the most horrendous smelling thing. Luckily it came off and without much damage to the car (just paint chipping where the second egg impacted right above the driver's door handle). So after we cleaned that up we were off to a good start. We were able to see a major miracle in the Lord's timing as he directed us to a difficult-to-contact member and we were able to visit with her! I unknowingly parked in front of her house. Then shortly after that while we were making a phone call to the ward mission leader, the member pulled into her drive way... and as a result we were able to have a good lesson with her.
I also finished reading the Bible Dictionary in 2013! Wahoo. I learned soooo much from that project. [And I just have to mention that I managed to get another gingerbread shake! Woot! Thank you Pass Family!!]. For the second part of my exchange I was with Hermana Organista in Kerman. I was surprised when I was able to still communicate in Spanish during our lessons there ;). It was great. I love Hna. Organista and we had a great mini-exchange. [And I might mention that the Kerman Sisters have the NICEST apartment I have ever seen a missionary living in... seriously, granite counter-tops, ceiling fans, a garage?!?! I think I wouldn't mind going to Kerman ;)].
In our Zone Meeting we played a get to know you game where we had to self-identify in 3 words... I picked 1. the beach 2. sparkles 3. family. I guess somethings never change haha.
President came up to do an interview and as a result of him being all the way up here he asked to meet with Sister Vernon and I. I know that he is inspired, that he is who the Lord wants to be the Mission President of our mission. There is no other way he could be privileged to the inspiration and direction that he has.
Micheala got baptized!!! It was a great service. Her husband's uncle was able to drive up from Fresno and perform the baptism. The Spirit was there so strong. The Grider family is so humble and willing to follow the Lord. They are making such beautiful decisions in their lives and seeing the blessings because of it.
Another miracle of the week was Jimmy. We had a referral from our bishop so we drove up a mountain to go find her. We got there and the house had a different name on it, and looked kind of dirty with a pack of cigarettes in the front "yard". I again found myself thinking, "these people probably aren't who we are looking for". As we knock there is no answer, but clearly people inside. I think, "they aren't going to answer". We knock again. Finally a woman in her night gown comes to the door. Sister Vernon uses the Harvest Blessing approach. I think to myself, "she won't let us in". Then she lets us in! We find out there are 9 people living in that small house... one of whom is the referral (a less active member). So the woman who let us in goes and gets the member for us. As she leaves the dog starts barking at us, and I find myself thinking "She might not even come out here, and if she does she'll talk to us for five minutes and send us on our way". Then she comes out and calls her boyfriend to come out too. She invites us to sit down (I think I probably inhaled the most second hand smoke of my life in there), and we start talking. Miraculously we are able to teach them the Plan of Salvation. Which Jimmy (her non-member fiance) accepts without hesitation or reservation. By the end of the lesson Jimmy had accepted a baptismal date! Wow!! Over and over and over again I am reminded that I have no idea who is prepared. Frankly that isn't my job. My task is to teach, testify, and invite... then let the Holy Ghost do the rest from there.
A quote I really loved this morning from a October conference talk by Elder Richard G. Scott entitled Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ says, "fill your life with service to others. As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations lose power in your life".
Have a great week!