This week has been so weird!
We have been in Kirtland since Saturday night. Normally we are up there Monday and half of Tuesday, but since we sang in stake conference (which was SO GOOD by the way!) we had to go up to Kirtland to practice singing, then go back down to the area to take care of appointments and pack, then go back up Sunday night, stay over until Wednesday morning so we could go to Cleveland for the New Missionary Meeting, and then got back late Wednesday night.
- Brother Lasvarti (sp?) came to Kirtland on Sunday night. He is the Church man in charge of all the church history sites in the country. He was incredible! He talked to us about how to make the spirit resonate between you and your companion in harmony, so that it could resonate with the people who come on tour. He also talked about Key Messages (the main points we are supposed to emphasize when giving a tour i.e. Priesthood, Temples, People, Revelation, etc) and integrating them with How to Begin Teaching Points (Preach My Gospel) in a minute or less. Discerning their needs from the beginning and tayloring the entire message to what they need. Whew! There were so many good pointers and I am excited to integrate them into my tours. Then neat thing about Brother L is that he doesn't decide beforehand what he is going to talk about. He takes from the talks he hears right before he talks (Site director, mission president, etc) and just goes from there. He said there really is something to treasuring up in your mind the word of God, and I had the impression he had Preach My Gospel memorized from how well he was able to flip to the correct pages and quote from obscure paragraphs. All of the leaders are so inspiring!
- Sister Palmer has been so great- she is teaching me SO MUCH as well as reminding me of how I was when I first got out here. I forgot how tiring missionary work is at first :) Having to 'reprove with sharpness' has been difficult for sure! But Heavenly Father has been helping me a lot, which I appreciate! Every day it is more impressed on my mind how there is no way I could be doing this without Him!
- I have been able to work on my testimony of tours and working at the sites. Some things at the sites I do out of obedience rather than knowing why we do it. That can be difficult sometimes. But Sister Palmer has really helped me to step up and do things I don't want to do with zeal and vigor (cool words, huh?) because I realize that I am not only affecting myself, we have a huge impact on our companions and their attitudes. Better to do something you know is right without holding back or complaining. Pessimism is such a drag!
- People are so cool. Did you know that? We have had the coolest people on tours! We had a family with four small kids, fifth on the way, and they were so grounded on the gospel! You could just tell with how they treated each other. And then this couple came into the Johnson Farm- they were hilarious! They played off each other so well. I love humor! I want to develop a fun sense of humor, because it makes everything else in life so much easier. I want to hear Jesus' sense of humor, because I am sure he didn't walk around being gloomy! He knew when to be serious, but I am sure he had some humor to get through all that He did.
- Speaking of the Savior, I have been thinking about the Atonement a lot this week. I watched a Mormon Message by Elder Jeffery R. Holland that was made for Easter. He is talking about the Savior and His last few days of his mortal ministry. At one point, the camera pans through a scene of Christ standing in the midst of all these men who are mocking Him, and Elder Holland talks about how through the last days, His circle of friends gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller... it crushed my heart! I miss you all so much and have felt very alone at times, but I wonder if I have even scratched the surface of how Our Redeemer felt as he was abandoned, betrayed, tormented and eventually killed... and yet the entire time, rather than feeling frustrated or angry, He felt pity for them. How did he do that? I can't get that scene from Elder Holland's talk out of my mind, and I want to read Jesus the Christ ALL THE TIME! I read it whenever I have time before bed or if I finish with lunch early. I want to know Him so badly!
- The New Missionary Training meeting was great! I love going to those meetings. They always leave me wanting to be better and excited to be a missionary. It is funny that I went to that just 12 weeks ago, but I still learned so many more things. Probably because I had a new perspective of a little experience and being on the other end, as a trainer. My favorite part of it was the very end, when we went to downtown Cleveland to do an hour of contacting (talking to people in the street) We were paired with a different missionary (I was paired with a cute Kirtland Sister named Sister Joseph, who is Sister Christian's trainee) and we were off, talking to everyone. I was a little nervous when I heard we were going to be contacting, since our area seems to be pretty devoid of people walking around. They don't seem to be in their homes when we tract though... so I don't know where Hiram people are! But anyway, we went around and talked to people and it was SO FUN! It was such a blast! I met this homeless man named James, and I was able to share a Book of Mormon with him and read parts of it with him. He was so cute! My favorite was a man named Robert that was walking past us, and we stopped to give him a mormon.org card and introduced ourselves. He said, 'oh, you are the Mormons! You have a book.' I said that yes, we did have a book called the Book of Mormon, and asked him if he had a chance to read it. He said, "Yes. I just finished it. I have been reading it this whole last month." ...I know! Right? So after I got over the initial shock of what he had just said, I asked him if he had a chance to pray to know that it is true. He said he did, and he knew it was true. ?!?! He hadn't met any missionaries, so we told him we would fix that and got his contact information for him. Can you believe that?! Heavenly Father is definitely preparing people to hear His word, and you don't know it unless you talk to them.
- Giang's getting baptized in two days!!! ...not that I am counting down or anything :) Oh, and did I mention Nick, our investigator who was baptized in February, is going to be doing the baptism?! How cool is that? It has been neat to see Nick change, even from the time that he has been baptized, as he grows in the gospel. He has been an incredible fellowshipper for Giang. It is neat to see people helping others out :)
- We were calling less actives from the ward the other day, and one man I was talking to said, "Oh, so you are the missionaries for the Hiram ward? That is great. ...I am a Jehovah's witness." So... what are you supposed to say to that? Haha! There was a little awkward pause and I said, "...oh. That's great! ...why are you a Jehovah's Witness?" A little abrupt, and not too elequent, but it got the point across. To this day, Sister Palmer will not let me live it down :) He had an interesting story though- he was the YM president, and even a counsler in the bishopric a couple times before he decided he wanted to go elsewhere for his religion. Isn't that crazy? I am learning to ask people out-right questions that I have rather than beating around the bush or asking the ward council about them. Why not just ask, right? Why aren't you coming to church, Brother Ringer?! As easy as that.
- Yesterday our plan to do service for a member fell through, so we went to do our back-ups. One of the back-ups was to see Kevinna, who we haven't heard back from texts or voicemails for awhile. When we got there we saw that Brother Tiger was there (her uncle that she lives with) and he was so excited to see us! He sat us down and he said he wanted to pray, so he prayed for us and started going off about his difficult week and how discouraged he has been. An hour later, we were talking about all the blessing he had recognized in the midst of the trials and he even was crying. When we got up to leave, he thanked us over and over, because he had been praying and he knew us coming over was an answer to prayer. Isn't that cute?! We got back in the car and humbly thanked the Lord for guiding our steps, because I had initially felt like it wasn't the best logical choice to go see Kevinna. Being an answer to someone's prayer is the most amazing feeling, and I am so glad he was able to share that experience with us.
- We got a call yesterday from the training sisters (they are like ZL for the Kirtland sisters) and they said they wanted to do exchanges with us. That is exciting! I have never done exchanges before. I get to go with Sister Tokanuga (from Hawaii) and she is the best! I can't wait to learn from her!
- The rapture is the craziest thing I have ever heard of. I got a talking to when one of our investigators realized we didn't know much about the rapture. It's right there in the Bible! Apparently. I can't find it. Let me know if you do.
- Last week on P-day, we had a man from Kenya approach us in WalMart who wanted to learn more about what we did as missionaries. Believe me, that NEVER happens! People are normally ducking for cover in aisles as we pass by. He is a really sweet man going to Hiram college to become a nurse, so I hope we get to teach him! We asked him what made him approach us, and he said he hasn't seen people dressed as well and modest as we were in a long time and he was impressed. So I guess there is a reason we wear dresses... and I guess it is a good thing :)
Ugh, I know there is more that I want to tell you, but I can't remember it right now :/ This always seems to happen! It kills me. Oh well, at least I have already talked your ears off. Pick up those ears and move on with your lives! Remember that I love you! Keep being awesome!