I'm running out of ways to say hi, and I want to switch it up. Starting off, we have transfers this week, and I will be staying with Sister Sprouse in Desert Ridge. Now that I've taken care of that, this week has been one of fun dinner appointments, and myself realizing just how odd mission life can be sometimes. When the car has to be driven in reverse, the other companion who is not driving (me) has to stand by the back corner of the car and follow it to make sure it doesn't hit anything. I realized the other day that I've started backwards marching so that I could keep up with the car while I walked backwards (because, you know, walking forward and turning your head is way too easy). I also realized that there are somethings that you can only say to your companion. Everyone else in existence it would just be weird, but it makes sense to a companion. For example:
Sister Sprouse: whatcha doing?
Me: following you around...
Yep, that is a companionship summed up. We also had some exciting dinner appointments. We had a Fourth of July dinner with a family and a couple other missionaries, and they wanted to take a picture of each of the missionaries to send to their parents. Sister Washburn wanted to be all festive and add "Happy 4th" to the text, and asked "is it okay if I text your parents that?" to which I respond "I dunno . . . my dad is Canadian and might be offended". Her reaction was my favorite because she believed me, but worry not, I told her that it would be okay and no one would be offended. It was a good laugh, though. We also had dinner with the Critchfield family! Sister Critchfield casually just happened to know that I love chicken fettucine (mom, did you have a hand in that?), so she made it for us. It was very nice of her. It was so fun to talk to people who I knew and laugh with them. Sister Sprouse has decided that the Critchfields are her favorite family. She LOVES them. I'm glad that she does because they make me really happy. They are such a wonderful family.
Shannon has been sick this week, so we didn't get to visit her, but Carl has been reading the Book of Mormon and says he is really enjoying it! We also went back and talked to Heidi, who we met on the street a few weeks ago. We got to know her and introduced the Book of Mormon, and she was so grateful that we gave it to her. I'm excited to see what happens as she reads it. We briefly introduced it to her, told her where it came from, and showed her the Mormon Message of Elder Holland's testimony of the Book of Mormon. We got talking about Joseph Smith, and she makes the comment that "it makes sense that there would be apostles and prophets now, because there were prophets and apostles back in the day of Christ, and why would he just stop?" As a missionary, that is the most exciting thing you could have an investigator tell you because yes, it does make sense! It makes sense because it's true! We are now going to be teaching her family, and I am so excited!
We also had a Zone Conference with President Wheeler. I love hearing him speak because he is so eloquent and he can talk about the atonement that is so simple, yet so profound. We talked about the story where Christ raised the young girl from the dead (Mark 5:22-43). I always just thought that it was a nice story about a miracle that Christ performed that showed people that He is the Son of God, but I know now that it is so much more. Everything Christ did in some way was to teach us about the Atonement that He would perform. He told us the story from a more spiritual view--a young daughter who had spiritually become sick, or had fallen away from the gospel. Her father loved her and begged Christ "please, come help my daughter". However, when Christ came, the little girl had passed away. Everyone else thought she was gone for good, but Christ knew better. He only allowed those who had faith to witness, and he brought the girl back. From everyone else's view point, she was gone. They didn't realize that God has His own timing that is perfect. I thought about how much the parents cared about their daughter and how hard it was for them to see her in that condition. I thought about how happy they were when Christ brought her back, how Christ felt about the girl and how much He loved her, and what the little girl may have been thinking as well. Just stop and think about how that applies to the Atonement. A worried parent sees their child and pleads with God to please help them, but sometimes they have to have the faith that He will still be there even when it looks like they are too far gone. That's what it means to have an Infinite Atonement. He also pointed that out with the Tree of Life, but I'll let y'all study that out.
In all of my emails, I like to point out all the happy things that happen to me during the week, but I'm going to let you in on a secret: Missions are emotionally and mentally exhausting, and sometimes I feel downright hopeless. Doubts creep into my mind and I start questioning if I'm supposed to be here, and I just get so homesick for my American Fork--for the canyon and summer snow cone runs, and hearing the marching band in the mornings, and most of all, my wonderful family. Sunday was like that, and I was feeling anxious and I couldn't decide if what I was feeling was normal or if it was too much, but I knew that all the things that Heavenly Father said were supposed to happen on my mission hadn't happened yet, and I missed home. I even began to wonder how I was supposed to tell people that this message is the answer to all the problems they might have, when I couldn't figure out how to use it to help myself. I had training hour after church, and I think Sister Sprouse was inspired to suggest we just use it for Book of Mormon study time. I desperately tried to think of a scripture story that could help me so I could go out and work that evening, but I was drawing a blank. Eventually I just said, "Heavenly Father, I don't know what to do, I don't know where to study. I'm pulling a 'Hail Mary' and please bless that whatever page I open to will be what I need". Guess what? The page I opened to was exactly what I needed. I opened to Alma 37:44-45 and Alma 38. It's the end of Alma talking to his son Helaman, and he reminds his son about the Liahona and that we just need to give heed to the words of Christ and it will lead us to "a strait course" that will "carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise". Wow. I needed that.
The next chapter was Alma 38, which is when Alma talks to Shiblon. I learned something about Shiblon. He is the missionary who tried and tried and still had frustrations. But Alma tells him something that I knew Heavenly Father needed me to hear: "I have had great joy in thee already because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long suffering among the people of the [Arizona Gilbert Mission]". He goes on to remind him that God does "deliver us out of our trials and troubles and afflictions", and that Shiblon has already seen that in his life. Then at the very end of the chapter, he says "And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things". Keep going. You've already started, just keep teaching. It helped me remember that there have been good things and I've done good, and that Heavenly Father is proud that I am trying.
Wow, I know this email is getting long, but last thing: The temple is amazing. Please go to the temple. It is such a blessing that we have it. If you can't go to do an endowment yet, go do baptisms. If you can't do baptisms yet, go to the grounds. Just get to the temple. God has blessed us with so much, and the temple, aside from the Atonement itself, is probably the greatest blessing we have because it assures us that we will be together forever with our families.
Thank you so much for the emails and letters I've received! I love hearing what's happening in your lives! I'm mentally sending you all a hug! I love you!
Fourth of July car selfie
Scorpions glow under black light feat. my nametag
*Russian accent* "You didn't see that coming?"