Hello family and friends!! Hopefully you had a wonderful week! Things were peachy here in Coalinga. Although I must admit, April Fools is still not that amusing of a holiday to me.
Back-to-back exchanges this week in Fresno and then in Coalinga. I am really glad that I serve in a little town. It feels so much homier to me, and I feel like I know how to do the work better in the little obscure places than in the big cities.
While in Hanford for meetings and exchange drop-off and pick-up we were able to visit with Artie for a few minutes as we waited and used her restroom. It was a tender mercy to me to be there. As she confessed that she hadn't been to church and then I asked her why she began crying and told me she had been sick for the last month and she couldn't make it through the meetings anymore due to some of her symptoms. I was able to convince her and then help her use her phone to call and schedule an appointment with her doctor. We then called the Elders and had them come over to give her a blessing. It was such a blessing for me to be able to love and serve Artie again even just for those few moments. She is so humble and faithful and devoted... I am truly grateful for the influence she is on my life.
Seriously this is the best story. So on April 1st we got a text saying that Amber and Vince were cancelling their scheduled wedding on the 19th due to family pressures to wait and Vince feeling rushed. Sister Johnson wanted to text back and ask if it was an April Fool's Joke. We didn't and it wasn't. It was so sad because they are the best couple/family and are so ready to be baptized, and all they need is to get married to be living the law of chastity. We continued to work with them and had a lesson but things were looking bleak. Well then of course this is where the MIRACLE comes in (right after all we could do). We went by to visit them a few days later and they were coming back from getting MARRIED!! ah I LOVE IT!!! They had just gone down to the court house and got married. I told Amber that my soul was full of bubbles and hearts in that moment haha. Seriously so happy... words don't begin to cover it.
Another great moment came this week while teaching Ramiro, Myra, and their family. When talking about families and the family the proclamation to the world we showed them a picture of the Salt Lake Temple and Deona one of their daughters says I want to be married there! It was a huge turning point for her from complete disinterest and apathy to now she is interested in the discussions and wants to be baptized!! Temples and eternal families are the BEST!!
I have started a project to read through the whole Book of Mormon again in English before I go home. This time I am looking for all references to happiness and joy and rejoicing. Already I have learned so much from approaching my studies this way. Two verses I particularly liked were 1 Nephi 16:32 "And it came to pass that I did return to our tents, bearing the beasts which I had slain; and now when they beheld that I had obtained food , how great was their joy! " and 17: 6 "". I just felt like I could relate so well to the scriptures as I read those verses haha.
More normal missionary craziness this week with some strongly atheist people trying to deter me from my faith and another teen smoking in my face trying to convince me that as a "mormon" that I believe in receiving 40 virgins to repopulate my own planet someday. Sometimes I really wonder where people come up with this stuff.
General Conference was AMAZING though!!! I went through my notes and pulled out two talks from each session that I just wanted to briefly mention what I learned:
From Saturday Morning (which we were able to watch with Amber and Vince) in Elder Holland's talk I remembered that it truly is worth it to live righteously and do the things we do, because the other option is desolation. Desolation versus all the blessings God has planned for me? No contest! Then Elder Eyring gave the quote of the prophets and it applies perfectly to doing the Lord's work and the attitude you have to have "Oh, it'll work out". I don't know how many times daily I have to tell myself this as I remember that God knows what He is doing and He will make it work!
From Saturday Afternoon Brother W. Zwick's was probably one of my all time favorite talks about communication! Healthy communication requires empathy and listening. Elder Cook brought out my family history bug and it is so true that we have an OBLIGATION to our families roots and branches. Remember, "The Prisoner shall go free!".
From Sunday Morning Elder Uchtdorf spoke of developing an attitude of gratitude and how a thankful heart is the parent of ALL virtues. Yet he perfectly understood and captured the truth that no one is immune from life's fabric ripping at the seams. I especially loved his line that endings are NOT my destiny! Then I also loved Jean Stevens' idea that the gospel is not weights but wings!
From Sunday Afternoon Brother W. Walker taught me to live up to the legacy of the pioneer giants whose heritage of faith and sacrifice I stand on. Brother Aidukaitis' great advice that, "one should NOT roam through garbage" is ALWAYS true.
But the best conference miracle came when Ramiro came up to me after the Sunday Morning Session and asked how they become members of this church? I was more than happy to inform him that baptism was his answer.
|Just Sister Johnson and I during the Sat Afternoon Session |
watching on the TV in the Relief Society Room by our lone-somes...
Things are great and I am doing well. The work is moving along and growing everyday!
P.S. Pictures of Brother White and us out at Harris Ranch enjoying our steak dinners. And of Ramiro and Myra and Stefani at the Sunday Gen. Conf. Luncheon we had thanks to the Winslow Family.