Oh, hiiiiiiiiii, guys.
This week was incredible. I mean just a masterclass in all the things I am not so awesome at, and also a masterclass in how hugely awesome this gospel, really is. Giddddy up.
Items of miracle bid'ness:
Our goal is to teach a restoration a day minimum. Usually two, but either way. Every day, somebody needs that message. For three nights in a row, we didn't teach one ALL day. And then the very last door or stop of the day, we'd get to share it. It's a good example of the principle of giving our all, every ounce of energy and effort and mental resource, and right at the end when we have nothing left, the Lord carrying us to where we need to be. I love that. As we give our all, He blesses us with the things we can't control and helps us to serve these amazing people. I love them, and it's all I wanna do.
This week, we had an awesome lesson with WM. She's a less-active, fabulously entertaining woman. She's in her seventies and has the hots for an insurance salesman. She gets all flustery and "Ooooh, child!" every time we ask her about it. Anyway. She's in her seventies and has been smoking for sixty years... yeah. The missionaries who baptized her ten years ago didn't teach Word of Wisdom super well, so I guess she only stopped smoking for her baptismal day. :/ She hasn't been to church in years, but every time we talk to her, it makes my spiritual jaw drop. She is so close to the Lord and has crazy dreams. She asked us a question, in great detail, about a dream she had that was, oh, you know, the entire temple endowment session. I had no idea what to say. She is so good at applying the scriptures and her whole life, she's been able to see answers to prayers and to apply the scriptures. But lately, she's felt distanced from God. We talked about the Sabbath Day with her and Word of Wisdom, in great detail. She kept skirting around it, and all the sudden, we were ELDER HOLLANDING HER. I was like... can we do this? She's in her seventies? Answer: No. But the Holy Ghost can do whatever is right for the situation. Soh, it happened. What got her was the word "sacrifice." She said she'd never thought of that. Her whole life, God had handed her these blessings, promptings, experiences, on a silver platter. And now He was asking her a small thing, a sacrifice, so He could bless her and help her more.
Aaaaaaand.... she was in church on Sunday for the first time in years. I WANTED TO HIGH-FIVE THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION WHEN SHE WALKED IN.
Also, the family we've been teaching was at church on Sunday, too. We haven't been able to meet with them all week with their schedule, and we were getting a little worried about commitment. After church, a brother in the ward came up and casually told us they asked to see the baptismal font and talked about how excited they were for their baptism. Awwwww, yeah. :) Now we just got to figure out how to help the dad quit smoking. (Every time he talks about smoking, he wiggles his fingers, which were frost-bitten and partly skin-grafted, and we just talk about all the crimes he could commit without FINGER-PRINTS. .. I love that family.)
A less active lady we've been helping come back to church for a while got her temple recommend Sunday! :)
Our African family - baptized at the beginning of the transfer - had FHE with us this week. During the course of the evening, the middle child declared herself a future prophet, the youngest peed her pants, and the parents bantered for half-hour about how they met. Hahaha. Family... isn't it about time. I LOVE THEM. They are doing so well.
This week, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about faith. It's super humbling. Mostly, trials without faith are pointless. And the way we make them mean something is by letting ourselves be shaped by Him. I think it's amazing that in every situation, we have the choice to turn TO the Lord, or away from the Lord. I.e. Laman and Lemual vs. Nephi. Stark contrast, eh?
I've had a biiiig perspective change this week. Faith. What a tricky little guy. I feel like I change the definition of that eighty times a day as a missionary. THERE'S JUST SO MUCH TO IT. I used to think faith was moving forward no matter what, not complaining or murmuring like Laman and Lemual, but putting my head down and plowing forward holding onto my beliefs through whatever life has thrown at me. And I think that's a dimension of faith, but I also think Nephi showed great faith, that Ammon and his people showed great faith, when they were in bondage or they were hurt and they SHARED it with the Lord. They weren't being ungrateful or murmuring, they were trusting a loving Father with the things they needed help with, the things that had hurt them. And once they shared those things with them, He could heal them. But first they had to pour out their hearts to Him.
Every day this week, I have poured out my heart to the Lord. And every day, I have seen little improvements - incrementally and in the Lord's timing, but changes that are deep and meaningful and help me better to love those we are serving at all times and in all places. Changes that help me to be a better servant to the Lord and to be the Sister Ballif He knows and needs. It keeps me from feeling like I am shrinking, like I am swimming against a current, but rather like I am remembering how to swim in deep water, and with a smile.
I hope any of that made sense. I know it was all pretty vague, but the Atonement is so real. It can help us with our hurts and our wounds, no matter what they are, and it can also help us to change and to better align our will with His. This transfer, and really, this mission thus far, has been a masterclass in both. I love the Lord so much. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and know that He walks with us and wants to lift us as we make changes. And I love this gospel. :)
Aaaaand, now, a few things I loved about this week:
-We knelt down to nightly plan last night and our upstairs neighbor was watching Lord of the Rings. It was the music they play whenever THE EYEEEE comes on. Anyone who's been a missionary and nightly planned on zero energy knows how awkwardly appropriate that was in that moment.
-"If that's Satan, take me now! He's hot. Hot as HELLfire, ladies!" - A lady in our ward describing what she liked about the old temple movie. Hahahah. I was laughing so hard. STOP IT. But don't ever.
-We knocked into a family who'd been baptized in Philadelphia and their son ran the entire length of the apartment hall at top speed while we talked. In his Batman briefs. Yelling, for fifteen minutes, "I'M FOREST, I'M FOREST!" The mama - she's African - was like, "He aptly named." Hahahaha. I LOVE IT HERE.
Have the best weeek!!!