More importantly, happy anniversary to Whitney and Richard! Yay! That right there is way cooler than St. Patrick's Day, although our ward mission leader and his wife fed us last night and everything was green and themed for the holiday, which was a lot of fun.
So I wanted to start off with a miracle from last P day. It actually happened on the way to the library to email, but I don't know maybe I was still in too much shock to tell y'all about it. It seems like almost every day we have near misses when it comes to car accidents. Last Monday was probably our closest one (except for a couple weeks ago when our car actually did get hit, but it was really lame and the story honestly wasn't cool enough to share). As we were driving to the library, the car in the lane next to us just started sliding over into our lane. She was kind of riding the middle and the way it looked, our car should have been mashed in. It was like the back half of her car just disappeared because there should have been a lot of contact and there was none. And then it was like Heavenly Father or angels just pushed her car forward more so we could move. I don't know if that made any sense to you or if you could picture it, but it was pretty amazing to experience. Our hearts were still pounding when we walked into the library. There are miracles each and every day and we knew with that one, we had angels on our side.
The main thing that we have been focusing on is the need to have members involved in the work. Members are crucial to have and we need them and they need us. We can't give them the desire, but I hope we can say something to influence them. Like in I think my first letter from the MTC, when I learned that we helped our brothers and sisters have the faith and trust to come to Earth, that was missionary work and that was our first love. To look around now, every person we come in contact with is our brother or sister and they NEED us. They need YOU! We can't shy away from sharing the knowledge they already have deep in their hearts. Missionary work is not knocking on doors and telling people they should join our church, it is helping people realize who they are and why they are here--helping them come closer to Christ because through Him, all things are possible. Just like with the Plan of Salvation, the happiness that it brings, it is only made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Okay, now after that rant, here's why I brought that up: the Elders are losing their car this week. Ten cars have to be pulled from our mission and we have even more Sister missionaries coming in so putting Sisters on bikes is probably inevitable. Sister Turner volunteered for a bike, and I would be good with that too. There are many Sisters throughout the mission stepping up, trying to make things easier on President Cottle. The problem with our area is that is spans 100 miles and there are investigators us and the Elders have that can't be reached on a bike. Our first thought was that this work was going to be hindered unless something else happened because we need to continue to see those people. It amazed me though how humble the Elders were. Though they were upset talking to us about it, when they called the Assistants to the President (APs) they told them they would do whatever the Lord asked. Maybe though, this was the answer to our prayers. We need member involvement, including members to come to teaching appointments with us, and now the Elders need a way to get to and from appointments. It's still going to be difficult, but we are beginning to see that this could all be one big miracle. We're going to share our car with the Elders though, we'll make everything work out. They're still hesitant on that though because they said they don't want us to get stuck on the main street we work on in the Projects. Really though, we've made friends there as we're basically teaching the whole street and everybody knows everybody. Trust me, anyone comes near us with bad intentions and we've got a lot of big dudes there who care for us and wouldn't let anything happen to us.
Last night was pretty cool as well. Before I got here, Sister Turner and her former companion Sister Clouse were trying to find people to teach and trying to contact people as much as possible. They talked for a few minutes to a guy named Alex on his porch and I guess he said he would call, but Sister Turner wasn't convinced. A couple weeks ago he texted us, asking to meet so we could share more with him about what they had shared on his porch. Sister Turner couldn't even remember who he was. I mean, we talk to a lot of people. Anyway, we've tried to meet with him a couple times but it's always fallen through. Last night after dinner we were driving to see a less active member because it was too early to go home. As we were driving, we got a text from Alex and he apologized for it being late, but wanted to know if we could meet him because he was in need of a prayer. We all turned around and met him at a gas station and talked to him for a few minutes, finding out what was going on in his life. Sister Turner recognized him right away and by the things he said, Heavenly Father had been preparing him too. He was the one who had to act on it by calling us, but he did, because he is ready to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We only talked for about five minutes in the dark and rain, but I said the prayer and it was really cool. We're meeting with him. Pray for miracles, they will happen. We should expect them to, as long as we are worthy and intend to act. Like in Moroni 10:4-5, we are to pray with "a sincere heart and real intent"-real intent means you really intend to act on the answer you're given, because you WILL get an answer.
One thing that I learned this week (or keep learning) is to not be afraid to share the message and live what you believe. Pray in public. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed or worry about what anyone will think of you, it doesn't matter! We had a really cool experience with this guy in Dollar Tree and we asked to say a prayer with him before he left the store and we were in the isle and I was going to say it, but I told him and Sister Turner we could wait just a second because this lady was coming down the isle and I'd wait to let her pass. We did, and then after the prayer this guy told me I should never be afraid to pray. I can't remember his exact words, but it was powerful. I'm getting comfortable holding hands with strangers in random places while we say a prayer, it means a lot to them and to me and if other people feel weird about it, well that's their deal. A situation is only awkward if you make it awkward :) I think the scripture reference is Romansand it says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ". The gospel of Jesus Christ--"I know it, I live it, I love it".
I hate to end on a bummer note, but Micheal's baptism date now has to be postponed because he didn't make it to churchand he has to attend at least three times before his baptism and now that's not possible. Don't worry though, he is so converted and he will be baptized soon! We're helping him quit smoking right now, I really think he has the will power to do it because he is so converted and wants to get baptized, but we went and bought him cinnamon candy anyway to have whenever he has a craving. Being able to help people is the coolest thing.
I hope you all have a great holiday today and a good week to come! We're praying for you and hope all is well!
Get involved at home as well! Find who the missionaries are in your ward or stake and offer to go out and teach with them. I promise it will help them a ton and you will benefit from it also. When you're in a situation helping someone come to the knowledge that you treasure, your testimony will grow and strengthen and you will have a burning desire to share this great message with everyone. For those that have served missions, that passion you carried with you each and every day will return and you will begin to live like you were still on your mission, excited and enthusiastic to talk to people each day. When you recognize again the power and truth you hold, you will not want to keep your mouth shut. Be bold; go forth and work!
St. Luke"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
1-Ray Charles memorial statue/fountain (Sister Turner fell in it the day before I got here, haha)
2-Me holding a Sugar Bear! I can't remember the official name. They're cousins to the Koala Bear or something. It's a pocket pet! They guy showing them was way funny and we got to talk to him a little bit about the Church as well
The rest-So I've seen street signs with our family member's names on them but haven't gotten pictures of them yet. I've seen Suzanne, Whitney, Parker and Mitchell. We drove through a graveyard and what do you know, I found all of them again and more! How about that. Haha, so not to be creepy, but here's some names I found. I thought it would be cool to find one that said Applegate but never thought I really would....creepy. Maybe Grandma Applegate already has some information on these names? There's three names listed, you should be able to read them when you pull the picture up.