So update... the person in my area that said she knows my Auntie Karin was thinking of a different Karin, so bummer. But hey, we can still bond over having roots in the same little town in Canada.
This has been a weird week. I went on exchanges with my Sister Training Leader, Sister Irvin--she's the one that reminds me of my sister, Sarah. It was a blast! I learned a lot from her, and we had some fun conversations. My favorite that I will tell y'all about happened during dinner. We were eating with a member, and at the end we shared a message. We asked to close with a prayer, so the little boy said the prayer for us. He's about three years old, so he was still learning how to pray and just had to repeat what his dad said. He's going along just fine until his dad says, "Please bless the missionaries." Instead of repeating what he said like he had been, the little boy stops and says, "Huh?" His dad repeats again, "Please bless the missionaries," and the little boy looks up and yelps, "I can't say that!" His dad, a little more firmly says, "Please bless the missionaries," and the little boy cries in exasperation, "I can't say that!!!" . . . Oh. . . Then he continued on with the rest of the prayer just fine.
I've had a goal ever since I first got into my mission, and I finally did it! When we were companions, Sister Sprouse was telling me how she was born into (her first area was in) the San Tan Zone. They were trying to have more fun with OYM (open your mouth) experiences, so they had a commitment to start at least one street contacting conversation with, "What's happening, homie?" It changes things up, and the person is usually so confused that they are more likely to not just blow us and our message off. The other day, we rode our bikes toward someone standing in their driveway, and I remembered this, so I said, "What's happening, homie?" and the confused look on the person's face was absolutely priceless. We began talking and I introduced us as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and said, "so we are here as representatives of Jesus Christ to share His gospel." The guy tells us, "I know Jesus, we're buds". Sister Miller jumps in an says, "That's awesome! Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?--" and before she can explain more about it the guy yells, "Oh no! Not that! Oh gosh, no! Anything but that guy! Please!" on and on. Now it's our turn to be confused. But then he continues, "that's almost as bad as that 'sacrificing your son for the good of the world' stuff!" . . .what? Didn't he just say that he was buds with Jesus? At a loss of what to respond to that, we get ready to go. He reassures that he loves all the missionaries and offers us Starbucks. He tell him we are good, and he jumps in "because you CAN'T!" So then we reassure him that I have all the Starbucks hot chocolate mix back home (thank you again, Potato), he tells us again how much he loves all the missionaries that he meets, and we continue on our way. I'm still confused about what happened there.
Thankfully, the rest of the week made a lot more sense. I went on splits with Sister Love, a sister in our ward who has a son serving a mission. She is awesome! She was so excited to go see what her son does all day. I'm pretty sure there is a curse that when a member comes out with missionaries, people are even less likely to be home than when it is just the missionaries. We tried to visit three different families, and only one answered. The one that answered was not very happy to see us. It broke Sister Love's heart to see the pain that family had, so after we talked about the peace and joy that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. After a while, I realized that even though we were having absolutely no visible success, I still felt like I was being a good missionary. That confused me because normally I get frustrated when no one answers. Then I realized what Sister Love and I had been talking about the entire time: we had been taking turns sharing testimony of Jesus Christ--and I hadn't even realized it because we'd been doing it in just a casual conversational way. It helped me see that something President Nattress would always say was true: "A testifying missionary is a happy missionary".
We have a new investigator named Kaitlin, and the lesson we had with her was incredible. Sister Miller hadn't seen her since before I got to this area because we could never seem to catch her at home. Finally we did, and we set up a lesson and we took another member with us to be her friend. Kaitlin lives with her boyfriend, and he is not about us, but he sat in during part of it and listened. That in and of itself was a miracle. His ten-year-old son was also participating. Her boyfriend ended up having to leave to take his two kids over to their mom's house, and then Kaitlin just opened up to us. It was one of those lessons where the Spirit was just guiding it every step of the way. I really wanted to invite her to be baptized, so I did and she said yes. She just feels like she is not deserving of it yet. It broke my heart to hear that she honestly feels like that, but it's so exciting to see the desire to come unto Christ work within her. We have another appointment with her this week.
It was also an exciting week for Patrick and Alex and Rachel's family. Patrick got to bless the sacrament for the first time, and the Rachel and Alex's son, Devin, was blessed in church on Sunday. They are all just amazing. It was so cool to see Patrick get to use the priesthood to bless others and see his testimony growing in that, and to hear Devin's blessing of all the blessings and promises he will accomplish in his life. It talked about Devin serving a mission, so guess what part I liked most in his blessing.
I've been watching the Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos during my lunch breaks and such, and that has been such a testimony builder of the life and mission of our Savior, and I'm so lucky to get to testify of Him. I wanted to end this email with a poem that Sister Burden wrote. It has also helped me realize the magnitude of this Gospel, and she dedicated it to anyone who may be thinking of leaving it all behind:
How Could You Walk Away?
by Sister Burden (Arizona Gilbert Mission)
This sounds like a break up poem
But I promise you it's not
I'm just here to show them
And remind them for what they fought
You were on the front line
You defended and knew the truth
You preached it all the time
Others fears and doubts you did smooth
Now I see you and you're cocky
Arrogant I would almost say
You say "I can't believe what I can't see"
Oh, how could you walk away?
To whom shall ye go?
Where can you find the peace?
Those beautiful truths the Savior did show
Oh listen, I beg you, oh please.
It's not just me that's begging
Over here down on my knees
Listen, dear friend to the pleading
Of the voice from Gethsemane.
Put down your weapons of war
Wipe that know-it-all smirk from your face
And remember there's something more
Than you figure is just religious craze.
HE LOVES YOU, don't you remember?
He's calling your name today
To His love, friend, please, just surrender
Please, stop walking away.
I love this gospel, and I know that it is through Jesus Christ that we can attain true joy. Jeffery R. Holland said, "He knows the way because He is the way." I know that's true. I love you all, and because I love you all, the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift I could share with anyone. I LOVE YOU!
1001 N Burk Street
Hot chocolate and quesadillas are my comfort food
January in Arizona looks like Fall