We got Sister Rogers and Sister Sprouse safely off to all her departure festivities, so I got to spend a crazy Monday and Tuesday with Sister Patrick (and Sister Butler, but she was only there for Tuesday--she also had departing festivities on Monday night). It was an absolutely crazy adventure. We had a miracle that Monday night. We had just gotten out of dinner and thought about stopping by a less active member that our bishop had asked us to check on just to see how she was doing . . . and we needed a bathroom. She never answers, but miracle, someone answered the door this time! The one we were supposed to check on was upstairs feeling sick, but we had a wonderful conversation with her younger sister who was visiting. I don't feel like we actually did that much, but the spirit was there and it was a special experience.
After a fun Monday evening, we went to the house Sisters Patrick, Butler, and Sprouse live in, and that is where Sister Rogers and I spent the night with the three of them as well as Sisters Sowa and Conrad (I called them Sisters SoRad). We got Sister Rogers Sister Sprouse, and Sister Sowa off to the mission office the next morning, then loaded the rest of our things into our car and the STL's car so we could get to transfers.
Well, plot twist happened at transfers. Sister Patrick's belongings never had to be unloaded because she is now with me in Queen Creek. We've had a lot of fun so far, and Sister Patrick is really good at focusing on the needs of the people. I've already lived with Sister Patrick before back in Desert Ridge Zone during my second transfer. She has been out one transfer longer than me (16 months) and is from Cincinnati, Ohio (Miamisburg, OH specifically). Sister Sorenson (my MTC comp) also got transferred, and now she is one of my STLs with Sister Donaldson and Sister Butler. Sister Johnson also was called as an STL, just as another fun update.
We had some sad news. Our friend, Dawn, said she appreciated all we did, but for right now, she doesn't want to continue having lessons. Her kids felt overwhelmed with the difference between what we know and what they have been taught in non-denominational churches. However, I was able to talk to President Smith (our stake president) and he had been talking to Dawn. She told him ever since she prayed in the first lesson, she has felt different (her words, not mine) and has become more emotional when she has spiritual experiences--something she never used to do. I'm so lucky that I got to be there for that lesson with her, and even though she's not going to continue learning now, she has had an experience that will prepare her for next time. I'm excited for her.
We did make another new friend this week! His name is Mike. Sister Rogers and I met him a few weeks ago, and we had an appointment with him yesterday. (Actually, I have to admit, we followed up with Mike because Dad asked if we had seen him recently, so I decided it might be a good idea to do that. Moral of the story: listen to your parents.) We were trying to find someone to come with us last minute, but everything worked out, Sister Lakko came with us, and we had an amazing lesson with Mike. He is great. He has a wife and three daughters, and he is so focused on them--absolutely family centered. He grew up Southern Baptist, but goes to a non-denominational church now. He is so open, so we taught him the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was there, Sister Lakko bore her amazing testimony, and we were able to help him see how the gospel will help him find the direction God wants him to take--something he said he has wondered. His mother, who is a preacher, came in at the very end, and she didn't seem too thrilled to see sister missionaries, but Mike said he would read the Book of Mormon because "it might be for him" (again, his words). Keep Mike in your prayers. We get to go see him again in two weeks.
We are still working on getting an appointment with Lee as well as a friend named Dave. I feel like the Lord is really blessing us with a lot of miracles right now.
I've been working on reading the Book of Mormon in 90 days as part of the mission's summer challenge, and I've just been reading about Alma the Elder and Alma the Younger--I'm not sure which of the two is more hardcore; I love them both. It's amazing that every single time I read the Book of Mormon, I always find something new. For example, did you know that the demographics of Zarahemla during the reign of King Mosiah was more than 65-70% "Mormon" (or whatever their nickname was back then because it probably wasn't Mormon) and had seven "wards"? It's true! It's all in Mosiah 25:23; 26:1-5. I didn't notice that before. It's a promise that we will have new insights each time we read the Book of Mormon, but it really works. And there were other insights I had that were even better.
First thing that I realized is that Alma the Younger had brothers and sisters. In Mosiah 27 it says, "Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father". I know that doesn't sound very profound, but it impacted me because I thought of how much his decisions impacted his siblings. It talks about how much Alma the Elder prayed for his son, but I also just imagined his siblings. How much they wanted Alma to come back. How much it must have pained them to see him making choices they knew would not bring happiness and how happy they must have been to finally see him have a change of heart. It made me appreciate that story even more.
Our mission also gave us was questions to study as we've been reading, which I have been trying to do. Last week, two questions that I had to ponder were "How and why did the conversion of the sons of Mosiah influence their desire to be missionaries? What motivates those who have been fully converted to share the gospel with others?" I got to thinking about how the sons of Mosiah had had this incredible 180-turn and how they knew the difference. They didn't want others to have to ever go through what they did and wanted everyone to have the joy they were able to receive after having repented. The same thing motivates others to share the gospel. Well, then I got thinking "What motivates me to share the gospel? I haven't had this "Alma the Younger turn around". Why do I care?", so I started listing experiences that gave me a desire to share the gospel. I discovered that what motivated me wasn't hitting rock bottom. The things that motivate me are experiences such as Girl's Camp, hearing my parents' testimonies, going to the temple, my mission--in short, experiences where I was able to live the Doctrine of Christ. And that's when something clicked.
I realized that Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah were able to have a dramatic conversion not because of their past, but because they were given a huge opportunity to live the Doctrine of Christ. And it's the same for us: We don't have to be the vilest of sinners to have an Alma the Younger conversion, but rather, by living the Doctrine of Christ the way Alma did afterwards. It's not how low we sink, but how high Christ can raise us. When we get bogged down with the idea of "Oh, well I wasn't ever less active" or whatever garbage the adversary tries to throw at us to try to make us think we don't actually "know the difference", we can stand tall and remember that that has nothing to do with it because it's all about striving to live the Doctrine of Christ. That's when we truly know.
I know the Book of Mormon is true because no other book helps me learn truths as clearly as that one does. I'm so lucky to have this mission experience with all the ups and the downs and the "in-betweens". I love it because it helps me love my family even more, and family, with that, I just want you to know that I love you!
1001 N Burk Street
Sister Sprouse got a picture with me and my luggage on my way in, and I got one with her and her luggage on her way out. I'm thankful to have had the best trainer in the world.
Sister Patrick and I
Biking (ft. a bag of garbage)