The weeks are starting to go by faster, and it's really weird to me that I'm starting week four of my first transfer! I absolutely adore the girls I live with. Sister Gasu is like our mother and reminds us to wear sunscreen. Sister Kilsby is so sweet and is always ready with a scripture when she senses that I need a boost. And of course, my companion, Sister Sprouse is helping me transition into missionary life. She's fun and easy to work with, and I'm very thankful that she is my trainer.
Last Monday, we spent the day in Queen Creek. We went to a member's home in one of Sister Kilsby's old areas, and we got to be blacksmiths for a day! It was a lot of fun! You know that scripture that says everything testifies of Christ? It's so true. Brother Reed, the member we got to visit, told us the analogy of the tree of life from a blacksmith's point of view. The Iron Rod is described as being strong and bright and true, and we learn in 1 Nephi 11 that it represents the word of God. I thought that was all fine and dandy, but let me tell you a thing: iron only stays bright if it is continually used. If you stop using it, it turns dull. He said that's like reading the scriptures. You have to continually treasure up the word of God for your testimony to remain bright. I think it's so cool to see correlations like that in the scriptures. Everything is symbolic, and as I learn, it deepens my conviction.
On Wednesday, I got to be a piano teacher again. I am teaching piano to the two granddaughters of a less active member. She really wants to have them learn piano, I am always happy to be near a piano, and we also get to give a spiritual thought when we go over. The granddaughters are not members, so we showed them "Because of Him" and "Because He Lives". I could feel the spirit so strongly while we testified of Christ, and I know they could feel it too. It's so exciting to see their testimonies develop. Their grandmother isn't too big on the actual lessons, but as we teach them of Christ, they sense that there is something more. I love it! We also are teaching a less active woman who is coming back to church. We met her on accident--we didn't know she was LDS and asked if we could help her since she was out weeding her front yard. She decided that this time, she wants to have her own testimony, and so we are teaching her. I love seeing her put forth effort because she wants to learn. Although we do spend the majority of our time looking for those who don't have the blessing of the gospel in their lives, I have a special place in my heart to watch those who have had the gospel come back and realize just how blessed they are.
Thursday was my first exchange. I went with Sister Haymond, who is my Sister Training Leader, to Higley. I may be low-key obsessed with Higley. Every person I met, I just instantly loved so much. I hope I get the opportunity to serve there sometime. Sister Haymond decided to go out for lunch, and we went to Chick-fil-a! It was pretty much the best thing ever. AND we saw Kenzie there, which made it even better! During the remainder of our lunch break, we watched the John Tanner Story. I love seeing the faith of someone of whom I am a direct descendant. I'm finding that I use Spanish about once a week here, and I LOVE it! I was with Sister Haymond, and we ran into this guy who only spoke a little English. Sister Haymond had that awkward pause that happens when you realize that you are trying to talk to someone that you can't communicate with. My Spanish was even better this time, as I told this man about the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy. Sister Haymond was so excited when she discovered that I can do that--given, I'm still mind-blown that I can too. When we had a similar situation later, she just looked at me expectantly, as if to say, "Okay, do your thing." What can I say? The Lord blesses His missionaries so that they can fulfill the work He needs them to do.
On Friday, I was not feeling so great--I had biked more with Sister Haymond than I was used to, and I don't think I drank enough water. I'm drinking more water now. Because I wasn't feeling my best, that made the day a little hard. Thankfully, the sisters I live with are the best, and called up the Zone Leaders to give me a blessing. I am learning more and more that Priesthood Blessings are truly from God. I told Elder Shively briefly about what was hard, but as he gave me a blessing, the words he said could not have all come from just him. Everything he said paralleled my setting apart as a missionary blessing to a T, and he reminded me that God knows my situation and that He is in charge. Maybe that seems small, but that was exactly what I needed, and Elder Shively had no way of knowing that I needed to be reminded of that. I also found a quote that has seriously changed my life. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can. Working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardships with fortitute, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!"
On Saturday, we went back and visited Amanda and Mariah. It's hard to teach them because they have two very small children, and we weren't sure if they were really committed to learning, but as we talked to Amanda, even though she works 60 hours a week, she committed to reading from the Book of Mormon for five minutes each day. I love visiting them, and I pray that her excitement to learn about the gospel will continue and that I will get the opportunity to see how the Gospel blesses her family.
Last night (Sunday), was the new member fireside, and Sister Sprouse and I invited some people and went. It was the last one that President Nattress will be speaking at, and it makes me sad that I won't get to have him as my mission president for much longer. The spirit was so strong, and I know that everyone there was edified in their own way. In particular, one person we have been working with has a newfound re-commitment to read the Book of Mormon everyday. The Book of Mormon changes lives, and that is not an exaggeration. After, I got to see my MTC friends that came to Arizona! Plus, I found another missionary from American Fork! Her name is Sister Bailey, and I think we went to elementary school together. She was a grade or two older than me, but it was so nice to see a familiar face.
My testimony has grown so much while I've been here. I say that every week, but I see it growing every week. This week was the first week in my life where instead of saying "I believe Joseph Smith is a prophet" or "I hope Joseph Smith is a prophet", I could stand in front of someone and say, without any doubt in my mind, "I know Joseph Smith is a prophet". He was called by God, and I know it. Being a missionary is mentally demanding, and some days are hard, but guess what? The gospel is more important. I love you all so much, and I love hearing from you and please know that I am grateful for your prayers in my behalf.
I'm making a horseshoe
The Zone at the Gilbert Temple
How missionaries do service