Welp, Family. Hello again!
I'm getting used to my new area now, and I think I'm going to like my new district. On Tuesday, I had my first district meeting with them, and Elder Gressman, my new district leader, was training on talking to everyone. He wanted to order pizza during our district meeting, but here's the catch: we had to teach a gospel principle to whomever we spoke with on the phone. He just didn't mention that last bit until Elder Elliot was already calling. We also gave the pizza delivery guy a copy of the Book of Mormon with the money inside it. It was a silly missionary thing, but it made me realize just how many people I can talk to.
Being a missionary is downright weird sometimes. Last Monday night, it was after 8:00, so Sister Miller and I were trying to figure out what to do. We went to the house of a potential investigator named Daniel. Plot Twist: He has a little courtyard outside his front door and another door beyond that so people don't stroll into his courtyard. A lot of houses have layouts like that in Arizona. So we couldn't knock and it was too late for us to feel comfortable ringing the doorbell, so we decided to reevaluate our plan and go somewhere else. Sister Miller really liked the palm tree in Daniel's front yard, so I offered to take her picture by it. We were in the middle of doing that when Daniel's garage door opens and out comes Daniel. So what do I do? I tell him we really liked his tree and were taking pictures by it. What does he do? Offers to take our picture for us. He even tried different angles to make sure he could get a lot of the palm tree in. Daniel is the real MVP. He said we could come back another time to take more pictures by his tree. Maybe when we do that we will get to teach him as well.
More weird experiences. We were at an apartment complex that is in our area trying to contact a recent convert that seems to have fallen off the face of the planet. We were walking around and Sister Miller looks over at another building. She sees two windows lit: one with a girl studying and one with a Christmas tree. She turns to me and says, "Those people need to be baptized." And I told her, "Okay! Revelation! Let's go!" I don't think she was anticipating that response. Anyway, we decide to go meet the girl who is studying first. We don't want to look like we are going door-to-door in the apartments so we don't get kicked out (as we have members and investigators there), so we were trying to game plan what we could do. Idea: Let's look for a potential investigator. We decided this potential investigator would be called Sarah. So we went and knocked on the door, and we met the girl who was studying. Her name is Allie. We invited her to temple lights since she said she was not interested and she wished us luck in finding "Sarah".
Okay, so no luck there. Next door. We spent about five minutes in front of the Christmas tree window's door trying to decide how we were going to approach that one. We went with the brilliant one of "hi, we liked your Christmas tree and wanted to meet the people who lived here with this Christmas tree". We talked to the girl at this door and asked her name. And that is how we actually found Sarah. We told her that we have a set of lessons to build faith in Jesus Christ, and she was definitely interested. Sarah said we could come back and we set up a return appointment for later this week, so Sister Miller and I are excited about that!
Later in the week we met someone named Jason. Jason was fun to talk to because he kept telling us how we need to question everything and we kept trying to explain that's exactly what our message was and that is how he could find out for himself. While we were talking about that, I felt prompted to show him Moroni's promise. Once you read the Book of Mormon, ask God in the name of Christ having a sincere heart and real intent to know if it is not true, and if you do so, Heavenly Father will testify to you that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost. After reading it, with his usual skepticism, he asks, "Okay, but where's the proof?" I did it. That's what I told him. His eyes lit up like a little kid on Christmas morning and he was hanging on to every word that I said. It was so cool how simple testimony engaged him so much. He was still a little skeptical, but he said that he would read the Book of Mormon and highlight it for the next missionaries that came along.
Later that day (or maybe it was a different day, I honestly don't remember) we were biking along and we tried to talk to someone else. They walked off, so we started talking to their little boy that was outside. He could have cared less. So we decided to just let them know that we are the missionaries in their area and be on our way. Their little girl who had been sitting off to the side asks, "What's a missionary?" We tell her that missionaries teach people about Jesus. She shoots her hand up in the air and asks, "Can I learn?" And that was the beginning of one of the funnest moments in opening my mouth to share the gospel. She was very determined to learn, but also very distracted by her older brother. He would get too close to our conversation for her taste, scream his name, chase him around and then come back and tell us, "Okay, back to Jesus". We kept talking to her and at some point she asks, "Can I go ask my parents if I can be like you?" We tell her sure, almost certain that her parents are going to come out and tell us off, but she runs in and a few minutes later comes back out and continues to talk to us. A few more kids came by the time we were talking about the Book of Mormon. One was a girl named Callie who had been coming to church with another girl in our ward who we have been told that the parents do not want to be contacted. I was so happy for this girl for bringing her friend to church and being an awesome missionary. Callie started telling us her story about how her parents don't like Mormons, but how she had been coming to church and she wanted to read the Book of Mormon. We gave her a copy and it was so precious to see her determination as she promised us that she was going to read it. We also gave a copy to the other little girl (her name is Kaden), and she ran in to ask her parents if she could read a chapter of the Book of Mormon every night. I guess they said yes because she came back and kept talking to us. We are going to go back and follow up with her family and see if we can teach them.
We also got to go into Mesa this week because we get to help be sister missionaries at the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights. It was fun. It was also weird to see people wearing shorts when everyone from Arizona (myself included) had on coats. A lot of people of different denominations would be enjoying the lights, see the missionaries, glare at us and walk the other way.... Awkward... but we also had a cool miracle. I had one lady come up to me and ask for some information. I got ready to go into customer service mode and tell her where bathrooms were or about the visitors center or displays, I was ready for that. Nope, she wanted information like what we teach people every day. It was so cool! I told her a little about what we believe, what the temple is, gave her a referral card to have missionaries come teach her, and told her to check out the visitor's center. It was amazing that I got to see the fruits of what a little thing like temple lights can do.
Finally, I want to tell you about an investigator named Rachel. Sister Miller had already been teaching her before I came to the area. Her husband, Alex, is a recent convert, and Rachel is now on date for baptism on December 17. We are beyond excited for her. We had a lesson last night about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (for more information, see 2 Nephi 31 or your local missionaries). My favorite part of the entire lesson was hearing her share her testimony of what she knew to be true and how she came to know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I learned several things during that lesson. First, when you share your testimony, it brings the spirit faster than any other thing I can think of. Second, it showed me how she had been prepared to receive this message. And third, it make me so excited for her 3 year old son, Devin, who because of these moments and decisions in her life will get to grow up with a fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It made me really thankful for my mother and all that she taught me to help me make choices based on the truths that I've learned. Mothers make all the difference. I'm thankful for mine and I'm so excited for what Devin will experience in his life because of his mother.
Last insight I've learned this week that I will share today: I always get really nervous when I talk to someone and they respond with "I know that". I forget how much of the gospel we still have that will help them. But I've been learning that what I do as a missionary is so minimal in comparison to the preparation that the individual undergoes before they accept the fullness that God has to offer them. It helped me realize that when I teach and I am told "I already knew that", it's evidence that God is preparing them still and even if the time is not then, I should not be afraid to open my mouth because nothing brings more joy than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for it.
I love you so much! The support I feel from your prayers is absolutely everything to me! I am so thankful for you!
1001 N Burk Street
One of the pictures Daniel took for us
Basic Sister Missionary
If you look closely, there's a TARDIS--I'm determined to get a picture by it someday.