This last week has been pretty good. My natural man has been definitely been getting a kick in the pants though. There are so many things I need to work on! It is funny, because I came out on a mission knowing I had certain weaknesses that would be difficult to overcome, but I feel as if I have been blindsided by a bunch of other weaknesses I didn't even realize I had! It has been really good for me, because how can you improve yourself without realizing what you need to improve? But wow! The great thing is that Christ can help qualify us after we give our all, so that is what I am banking on :) He has helped me in so many ways already.
On Friday, all the new missionaries went to the mission office for a New Missionary Training Meeting. It was fantastic! We listened to a few workshops by the APs, and had a few lessons from President Sorenson himself. He is such an amazing man! Mom, can you tell Sister Swallow how incredible he is? He excudes so much knowledge, confidence, and power, and he cries every 5 minutes. You would think the crying would be a tick against his manliness (according to what I hear guys think is manly...) but it is so neat! I love it when guys cry, especially when they are crying because they feel the spirit and aren't afraid to show it. He shared a lot of amazing insights, but what really stood out to me was when he told us how we need to cultivate more love for Christ and the gospel, because then we will have more desire to share. And you know what? That is so true! The best missionaries I have seen so far aren't necessarily the ones who have mastered how to teach, or even those who are scriptorians and know where every verse is. The best missionaries are those who have a passion for the gospel and are excited to share it with others. If the missionary is excited and is sharing the message with love, it seems to transmit directly to the investigator and they seem to realize the truthfulness of the gospel so much faster. It is amazing how little you actually have to know. If you know the church is true, it is enough. That has been a comfort :) Another thing President shared was to be thankful for the difficult days- they are there so that you may better feel the good days. That concept is something I have heard before, but I loved how he worded it and it really hit me hard that day. Those are only a couple of the amazing things I learned at that meeting, but I guess it would get a little long if I shared it all :) I will spare you!
I don't know if I have already mentioned the sad situation in the Hiram ward... the previous bishop had a stroke and was in a coma for a few weeks before opening his eyes. He was showing signs of progress, and the ward was so excited to see that he was beginning to recover. But then on Tuesday he passed away. The funeral was on Monday. Going to the funeral was an interesting experience for me. I never met this man, but I couldn't believe how much I felt like I knew him just because of how much I had learned from him by being in the ward these last two weeks. At just about every members home for dinner, he was mentioned. Everyone spoke so highly of him and how they felt like he was their personal friend. At the funeral, there were so many people that showed up! His family had amazing testimonies that they were glad that he now had a chance to serve a mission (he joined the church when he was 20) and even his youngest son, who came back to Ohio to be at the funeral, decided he wanted to return to his mission and found it a privilege to be serving at the same time as his dad. I couldn't help but feel what a difference one person can make by simply being loving and maginifying his calling. He had touched so many lives! And he had done that not through doing what he wanted to do, but by doing what Heavenly Father would have him do. It made me realize that I don't want to become the best missionary I can be- I want to become the kind of missionary He would have me be. If we are focusing on others and doing His will, we can become so much better than we could become through our own means. It also made me really sad, because he is a month younger than Dad. I can't imagine coming back early from my mission to attend Dad's funeral!! It would be such a difficult time! In fact, I sat there at the funeral and thought about losing each of you individually, and I almost lost it! My family is so important to me, and it made me realize how much I love each one of you. I am glad to know that you are mine forever! (even though that does sound like I am a little possesive... :) )
Sister Lee and I may give our first tour of the John Johnson Farm on Friday. It will be interesting, because neither of us have given a tour there yet (senior missionaries normally give tours there throughout the winter) so there may be a lot of improv! Haha...
Life has been good! This week we have been focusing on preparing one of our investigators for baptism, so we have been meeting with him three times a week to get all the lessons in before Feb. 12th. On Saturday, he ended up cancelling with us, and Sister Lee and I were getting a little worried because we knew we were already on a tight schedule. On Sunday in Missionary Coordination, the Ward Mission Leader listened to our concern, and said the investigator would be coming over to his place later that night, so we should drop by and give him a lesson at his house. It ended up working out so well! Even though we had a full schedule, we were able to fit in his lesson and I felt like we should have a testimony meeting at the end of the lesson. The members of the ward mission leaders family all bore powerful testimonies of how they knew the Book of Mormon and the Church are true, and then the investigator ended with a powerful testimony himself, which he said he really wanted to share in fast and testimony meeting this Sunday! It was so great! Sister Lee and I shouldn't have been so worried about the cancelled appointment- apparently the Lord had it all figured out and made the situation so much better than it could have been on Saturday with the members there to bear their testimonies. It was a neat lesson on how we need to trust in the Lord.
I hope everyone is doing well! I love you all so much!
Sister Kimber Mahrt