Monday, August 5, 2013

July 22 - You got a degree in BIBLE?

Hiiiii, there. 

This week has been awesome. I love being a missionary. The highlight was definitely in seeing a whole family be baptized and confirmed together. The J family, as I mentioned last week, are an African family who my companion has taught from the very beginning. I think it's so cool that she has gotten to see their entire journey. I got to come in for the fourth quarter, but they have still blessed me so much. They're from Liberia, and they have such a thirst for the gospel. They read the Book of Mormon together, and they have three little girls. (Just exactly like our family!)

To see them all dressed in white (even little G, who's not old enough yet) and beaming as they prepared to take this step... I know I'm pretty wordy, but I don't really have words. We don't realize when we grow up in this how much it can change us, if we let it. And even if we did grow up in the church, we have to make that same decision the J's made, to accept it, and to LIVE it. The blessings that are waiting for us, even as we just TRY to believe, or try to learn more are incredible. I can't describe the good spirit that is around them. Suffice it to say, I cried prrrretty much the whole baptism. And Sister J kept making comments to the side while her family got baptized, and they echoed in the tile stairway. "Mhmm! This right. Yep." Hahaha. I love them! They are so excited to go to the temple together and to know that it truly means they are together forever. And when they all got confirmed, and G was given a name and a blessing, you just KNEW the Lord was so happy. Ahhh. Man. Baptizing a family. Nothing like it. 

Happy things from this week:

1. We usually have someone teach about the Restoration at that awkward midpoint (where everyone's shuffling and trying to be reverent while the newly-baptized folks change out of their wet clothes) and the Medicine Lake Sisters were supposed to come and do that. Theeeen they called two minutes before the baptism started and said their investigator bailed and they weren't coming. So! We taught it. I was reaaaallly nervous, because the J's are so loved. That baptism was HUGE. And President was there. And no matter how many times a day I teach the Restoration, it's still horrifying in those circumstances. 

But we did it. And the Spirit was SO strong. We had to listen SO closely to each other and to the Spirit. I have no idea what we said or how we said it. Just that we were both crying at the end and so was everyone in the room. Not that tears are always an indicator of the Spirit. It was just really powerful. As we taught I just kept thinking, "I KNOW this is true. I KNOW this is true." And having seen the change in that little family, everyone there, member or nonmember, did too. I just really know that if we have faith, it's enough. Even if we didn't plan a lesson and even if faith is all we have, we can do what we are called on to do. Faith is enough.

2. I went on exchange with Medicine Lake and got to work with Sister S. She's hilarious and also we had more inside jokes in a day than I do with most people in a month. That was due partly to the fact that we got along so well.. and partly to the fact that Medicine Lake is a GOLD mine of people.

Example: ... I wanna say his name was S? At any rate, he came up while we were teaching this really awesome Native American Marine named M, and just kept wandering in and out of our discussion. You think I mean verbally, but I literally mean he was walking in between all of us all floaty-like, waving his arms and zoning out. He had an electric guitar with broken strings and he was super old and shirtless, just strumming along. He offered me two kinds of whisky and told me to check out his YouTube channel, Catpudding Kittylitter. "The language is profane, but the message is pure." Hahahah. GET OUT OF HERE. I loved him!

Example 2: We taught a family of little Native American kids whose grandma is a member, but inactive. Their mom isn't a member, but she's fine with them learning. It's the sweetest thing in the world. They remember EVERYTHING. We watched the restoration video with them and when it ended they were like, "WAY TOO SHORT! COME ON!" 

3. You don't appreciate Matisyahu until it's being blasted from an oldschool boombox at an African barbecue (barbecue is a liberal term. Smoking-grill-on-a-balcony-with-dancing-Africans-and-music is just cumbersome).

4. Sometimes Africans come here having been sponsored by a church, and so they're required to go "Bible College" to pay part of it back. So people are always surprised that we know things and haven't been. I can't tell you how many times we get asked, seriously, "You got a degree in BIBLE?!!" Hahaha. I love it.

5. We ran into a man named F two nights ago, on our way to stop by someone else. We ended up talking to him for a long time, and it turns out his brother is a missionary from our ward who is out. His sister joined later and is in Young Womens. He talked about changes he'd seen in their lives as they lived it, and he kept saying he knew it was true, but the timing just wasn't right yet. He wanted to change. We told him that this was how to do it. He was so embarrassed to be seen with a beer since we knew his family. (Obviously, we didn't care about that. He was straight-up amazing.)

I don't know how to explain it other than to say that as we talked to him, you could FEEL how much his siblings were praying for encounters like this to happen for him. It was really humbling knowing that the Lord trusted us with that. The prayers of that elder, somewhere, the prayers of his sweet little sister. Both wanting him to have the happiness they have. 

His sister spoke in church the next day, actually, and in her talk, she told us she prays for F every night. The Lord hears our prayers. He knows us where we are. And He is waiting to bless us. 

6. We were teaching our investigator B this week, this African grandma. She's the best. We were reading in Mosiah 18 about baptism, and after the part where she read, "What have ye against being baptized in his name," she stopped and said, "Shoot. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!" Then she laugh-cried. It caught her off-guard, but it was so good. She's a cutie. She knows it's true. And she has, of her own free will, before the missionaries ever met her, turned from a life of drugs and neglect, to being the person all her kids dump their kids on, the person who encourages her family to stay sober, and the person who prays whenever she's frustrated. I LOVE her. Also, she's the sassiest woman alive. 

7. Tonight, I go on a 48-hour exchange with Minnetonka. Back on my HOME TURF. Weird. Gotta check in, see if K's still going strong. All of that. I'm excited! :) 

This transfer is so different, but so good! I am so grateful for the good things that are happening, for all the good days. I am so thankful for the hard things, too. The Lord is giving me Mountains to Climb. (Please see video link below., you've done it again. My gash.) It's hard, and I'm really lucky.

I love you all! :) Have suuuuuch a good week. Please have a Slurpee (or ten) for me. MINNESOTA PLEASE, JUST SELL THEM. IT'S A HATE CRIME AGAINST SUMMER. (Not that I could have one anyway. Eh. Stupid commitments)

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