Finding joy in the little things really is what makes missionary work fun. Sometimes it's really awkward because you knock on a door and all of a sudden you have no idea what you were planning on saying, so one of the elders rewrote a little bit of a hymn that Sister Sprouse and I sing a lot. Because guess what we are? "Awkward Christian Soldiers, knocking at your door!"
I was all the amounts of excited when we got to talk to one girl this week. Why you may ask? Her name is Wednesday. Real-life, I met someone named Wednesday. Another thing that I am learning is that you need to find those little things that are just "Emily things" and that was definitely one of those things that Emily, the imperfect missionary, needed to tie back to her own real life self. When you have those things from time to time, it's a lot easier to focus on the work.
I also saw some familiar faces this week. I realized that one of the wards I'm serving in is Sister Lucas' home ward (she was in the MTC with me for those of you who need a refresher), so I meet a lot of people who know her (obviously), including her dad. I also got to see the Critchfields who used to live in my home ward. It was nice to see a familiar face.
I'm learning that service actually can be really fun. We got to clean windows at one house and then the other day, we helped someone pack because they are getting ready to move. Guess where they are moving? Lehi, Utah. I think the Lord knows just how much those connections back to Utah mean to me, because I had a lot of those connections this week.
We also had some wonderful lessons this week. The first one I want to tell you about is with a girl named Geneva. Her boyfriend is a member and she has been going to church for several years. She wants to be baptized, but her family isn't too fond of that idea yet. In the mean time, we get to teach her. It's so funny because she knows a lot from church, but there's a lot of scripture stories and such that she hasn't learned which leads to all over the place questions. It is the best. Geneva is so funny and I love her willingness to learn.
The other lesson that I want to tell you about was with someone we tracted into. Sister Sprouse starts walking toward this one lady that I hadn't even noticed, and I was just sitting there thinking "she does not look like she wants to talk to us, but oh well". Well, we get talking to her, and she tells us her name is Shannon. She was really open when we asked questions, which was really cool, and come to find out, she had just been having a real hard time the day before. She told us that she works with an LDS girl at work, who said that she would pray for Shannon. What happened the next day? We showed up. I know that wasn't a coincidence and Shannon realized that it wasn't either. As we talked to her she made a comment how she could tell that we knew what we were telling her was true. She had talked to missionaries before, so she told us that she would read her Book of Mormon that night, and now we get to teach her! I'm so glad Sister Sprouse was in tune with the spirit so we could meet Shannon.
On Sunday, I was at the YSA ward, and because no one will play the piano in that ward, the bishop has to get up at the beginning of sacrament and beg for someone to come play. Who would have thought that I'd play the piano so much in Arizona? Anyways, I was playing the piano, and I was just praying "Heavenly Father, please help me play these songs because I am sight reading". I was totally relying on Him to help me play, and then I realized that He did that for me because I put in the effort to practice sight reading hymns before I came out. I thought of that scripture that says "we know we are saved by grace after all we can do". I realized how applicable what I was doing was to how the Atonement works. Yes, ultimately, I had to rely completely on God as I played the piano, just like ultimately we cannot return to live with Him without the Atonement. However, during this life, He expects us to do what we can. If I had not practiced before I came on my mission, I could not have expected Heavenly Father to make up the difference of what I couldn't. The Atonement is the same.
I'm thankful for all the things I am learning. The Book of Mormon is the most amazing book ever and to anyone that hasn't read it, read it! The reality of how amazing this book is incomperable. In fact, Harry Potter is nothing compared to the Book of Mormon. Anyone who knows me knows just how bold that statement is, but it is 100% true. If you have read the Book of Mormon, read it again. Sister Sprouse pointed out a scripture that has helped me this week as a missionary. In Alma 2:30, Alma is in a war and he prays that God will spare him so that he can be an instrument in the Lord's hands. Sister Sprouse then remembered a quote from Preach My Gospel that says Christ did everything the Father had planned for Him to do. We need to be the same. God has a plan for us, and if we allow ourselves to be an instrument in His hands, we can also do what the Father has planned for us to do.
If nothing else, my mission so far has taught me two things: 1. how to be a little more understanding. 2. It has given me the opportunity to KNOW that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that because God loves us so much, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet in these days. Miracles have not ceased to exist among the children of men. I know because I see miracles every day. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and this work will continue to go forth until it has filled the whole earth. I am so lucky to have this knowledge in my life.
I love you all so much! I love hearing from my dear family and friends! I want to hear from you (yes, I mean you)! If you want to send me a letter, you can send it to 1001 N Burk Street Gilbert, AZ 85234. It would mean the world to me. Thank you for everything you all do for me!