My favorite part about this week, was the whole thing. I loved it! You know that feeling you get, when you hold a puppy or blow bubbles with laughing children? Or when you hike an especially great hike and catch the sunset, and everything is just silhouettes and happy thoughts? Okay. Yes. That feeling. But every second of every day! I love my mission. I seriously never want to come home. But actually that's a lie, because I am the most baby-hungry I have EVER been. GIVE ME ALL THE AFRICAN KIDS IN THE WORLD, please. Thanks. So I'll come back in ten years, Mom. G'head. Turn my room into a bowling alley. It's FINE.
Things I want to tell you about/update-you-on/rant-about/dance-about-but-I-can't-because-it's-against-the-White-Handbook:
One: Mama, you asked if T got baptized this weekend. She did not. She's been in and out of the hospital and figuring out different meds for her emotional challenges. :/ I know. Breaks my heart. But the Young Women are doing a great job at fellow-shipping her, and for now, we've passed her off to them. The key with her is to keep inviting. Her mood changes day to day, and some days she might not accept, and some days it might be her saving grace. So essentially, she's just like the rest of us, only a little more extreme because of the challenges Heavenly Father has trusted her with. I'm grateful for the opportunity we have to love her and serve her and learn with her. I think generally speaking, we can summon all the charity and service in the world for those with physical or developmental challenges, but I think we shy away from people's emotional and mental challenges. The ways they manifest themselves might be more delicate or trying, sometimes, but it's still a wonderful opportunity to give and still a very special spirit that has been trusted with such difficult daily challenges. I firmly believe that. :) When she is ready, the gospel will be a wonderful coping mechanism for her. So that's T's update!
Two: Thanksgiving as a missionary is FUN. But really. We were supposed to have two Thanksgivings, but the first is elderly and adorable forgot and then the elders' phone was off when we texted them to tell them, so then they still showed up, and we were trying to leave, but then we couldn't, so we had this sort of not... Thanksgiving, in which we shared a message with her and her non-member family and had pie and her thirty-five-year-old son hit on me and also asked me if I'd ever considered waitress. Huh. (To answer his question, I have, a little.) Sooooooo, then we went to the J house. It was magical! I love them so much. They're both brilliant, with a whole slew of redheaded children. Sister J had emailed all our families and found out our Thanksgiving traditions and made ALL of them. No, like, she's superwoman. She had created an hourly time-plan on when to bake what at what temp and how to prep things and set them out accordingly. It honestly made me think of Tori a lot. Hahaha. You would have a master plan spreadsheet. Incredible. Anyway, we got there early, and since it was a P-day, we got to help! I learned how to make gravy, yams, and all kinds of sauces. It was straight-up quality!
Three: The C FAMILY. This is the real point of this email. I talked about them last week. I am so in love. I had my favorite lesson of my mission with them this week! Here's how it went down. We planned this huge lesson, full of Starbursts and by-number involvement and art and ALL kinds of magic to get the kids super engaged. And then, the lesson that happened was nothing like what we planned.
It was so. much. better.
We went in, and the kids wouldn't focus. They had friends over and were in and out. Sister C is having labor pains (yeah, ask me how scared I was that she'd just shoot a baby into my arms as I knelt to pray. Pretty scared.), there is music blasting from their teenager's room and I'm just like... all right. This is not going to WORK. Except, we gave ourselves a challenge this week and said we would only say gratitude prayers. So instead, I thanked Heavenly Father for everything great about the situation - being in their home, having a joint-teacher, being able to teach Plan of Salvation with such perfect timing.
Brother C lost his mother back in Liberia last week, and he was just so sad this week. He hasn't slept, and he said the only time he's felt peace is when he read Alma 40. As we talked about the Plan of Salvation, and the lesson went on, seriously every distraction just dropped away. It went from being stuffy and smelling like African food and buzzing with activity to being as still as a celestial room. I honestly don't know how to describe it. The things were still going on around us, but for each of us in that lesson, there was absolutely nothing else. With every word, Brother C sat up more and more straight, until finally he was leaning so far forward he was almost off the couch. He hung on every part of the lesson like he'd been waiting his whole life to hear it. You could visibly see it heal his heart.
As we talked about the Spirit World, the impression came to my mind that his mother was hearing the same truths he was, and that she was so much a part of our being there that day. No sooner than I thought it, did I hear my voice saying it aloud. (I freak myself out so many times a day as a missionary. Word vomit galoorrrre.) As soon as I said it, the Spirit just slammed us all with the confirmation of that truth. Brother C started to cry and I started to cry, and there was the most powerful presence there. Finally, he just looked at us and thanked us. He assured us that every time we open our mouths, to strangers, to children, to people who don't take away more than two words, we bring them closer to God. He just kept mumbling, "Tank you, oh my, tank you." He always calls us angels.
As Sister T taught about Kingdoms of Glory, he just cradled the little Plan of Salvation we'd drawn out for him like it was the best thing he'd ever seen. (Not like it was drawn on the back of a turkey place-mat. Which it was.) His closing prayer was my favorite African prayer I've ever heard, which, if you knew African prayers... you'd know how significant that is. Every single one of them is like a natural preacher. PRAISE THE LAWD, YES JESUS. But really. They just talk like that. He said, "God, I am done asking you for things. I only want to know who I am, and how I can serve you and build up your church." WHAT. It was such a King Lamoni prayer, like when he tells the Lord in Alma that he would "give away all his sins to know him." The Spirit was so strong. THEN, our joint-teacher wipes the tears from his face (cause you know we are all bawling at this point) and tells him he felt impressed to offer him a blessing of comfort. He goes on to explain the priesthood perfectly, and then gives Brother C the best priesthood blessing I have ever heard. So personal. So specific.
GUYS. God knows us. He knows who we are and what we need. He loves all of us, and He wants all of us to be comforted. To understand His plan and His perspective. I walked out of that appointment BAWLING just tears of joy, that I get to be here. That I get to do this and be a part of this every day. It's so real. And it's so important. Maybe I cried for like the next twenty minutes. I felt weird about it.
(Then I answered the phone about something unrelated our district leader made me tell him why I was crying and then he had spirit chills and then the zone leaders called and wanted the story and now everyone in my zone knows I'm a crying MAYESSSSSS when it comes to tender things. SORRY I HAVE FEELINGS.)
Four: According to the powers that be, I have apparently been upgraded to zone mom. That included making me head a conference call about Christmas projects this week and boost morale. :/ so weird. I felt like Elf. "Now, zone. Treat every day like Christmas." (Best part is that the zone leaders approved my plan to get President and Sister Clements matching African outfits. FORGET ABOUT IT! Can't wait to see them rock those.)
Five: What I don't feel weird about is that we've Chrismasfied our apartment. It's glorious. Twinkle-lights as far as the eye can see. Ornaments. Illogical bows pinned to the General Authorities. We even put jingle-bells on our flusher, so that every time someone tinkles, it sounds like SANTA'S COMING TO TOWN.
Six: A little girl we teach was showing me her pictures from going to the aquarium at Mall of America this week. We were categorizing the animals. "Squid! Shark! Whale! Clown-fish!" She snaps her tiny fingers. "Oh, UHHHH-uhhh." "Yes, that's a clownfish." "OhhhhNO, gur, that's Nemo FO' SHO." Hahahaha. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE. I love them.
And you. :) Have the best week! This is all real. It's all true. Keep the C family in your prayers. We are so excited for January 4th!!!!!
Have a happy December! Enjoy the balmy weather! Here, it is about 10 degrees. Thanks.