Tuesday, March 11, 2014

News From Albany

Hey everyone!

Can you all believe I've been out over a month? So much has happened, yet I feel like I've been gone a week. It's scary how fast time flies, especially on your mission! Today is Sister Turner's 11 month mark, and she's panicking. We all think something big is about to happen/be announced this Conference time in April. Maybe Sisters have the option to extend to two years? Eh, eh? :) I really can't wait for Conference it's always a highlight of the year.

So Shaquille wasn't able to make it to play basketball with us last Monday, which was totally fine. We took him cookies and a card on Tuesday for his birthday and he wouldn't even eat a cookie, he's giving them to his nephews and little cousins. He did like the card though--said all he wanted was the card. We wrote him a little note and said that he could change the world for the better if he chose to, and then us and the Elders signed it. It was actually a hard meeting with him. He kind of talked about how he can never have close friends because people always leave. They're in his life for a short time, and then they're gone. He said he wants to be friends with us but once again, knows that we're honestly here for a matter of weeks and then we'll be gone too. We'll exchange contact info, we told him to add us on Facebook. I guess we should probably find out his last name and give him our first names, ha ha. We're really just on a first-name basis with all of our investigators :) When we left Shaquille's, we always leave with a prayer; it brings the Spirit and lets everyone know we truly care for them, especially if they're going through something difficult and we can pray for that specific thing. So, like always, we asked to say a prayer with him before we left and he said no! What?! I know he never closes his eyes or really participates, but still. He's never said no before. He told us that he really likes it when we come over and he wants to be friends with the four of us, but he doesn't want any church stuff involved. That broke our hearts because what do you say? He just doesn't think God can help him and it's really sad. Sister Turner can relate so well to him if he would listen to her story. She also has had a really hard background and she knows that without the support of people growing up, she would have turned away from God as well and said she could do it all on her own. We're not going to abandon Shaquille. I still feel like he's still so close to knowing everything--that once it clicks for him he will be set. He needs us now more than ever. I don't feel like trust has played a role in his life, or only mistrust has. It makes me so happy that he knows he can trust us, and I still hope he will learn with our help how to trust in God and come closer to Christ. 

This week actually had a lot of heartache in it as we visited with less-active members and tried to remind them why they turned to Jesus Christ and how He is still there with His arm extended, waiting to help. Seriously, everyone has an amazing story. Many I hope not like two women I'm thinking of, who have lived lives and experiences a lot that people should not have to experience. It's still so cool to me though how God answers prayers! One woman told us she didn't think God heard her cries--but He did! Sisters previously were not in this area until six weeks before I came. The two sisters that were brought here, my companion and her previous one, were part of an emergency transfer to be here. They were rushed out of their last area because our loving Heavenly Father heard the cries and the prayers from this particular woman and He knew she needed Sister missionaries and she needed them now. It's so cool :)

Anyway! How about some happier stories to share? We haven't been able to sit down and talk to Micheal for a good amount of time in a while, but he still brings up baptism and is so excited. He wants to change his life and told us he just wants to be on the strait and narrow path and make his life better. Honestly, we're not even doing anything. He is one of those people who the Lord prepared for us before we came. Micheal searched for the truth and prayed to be able to know it, he was just waiting for someone to bring it to him. And then along came the missionaries :) He is one of the earnest seekers of truth, one that will stay true to the gospel after baptism. Conversion is life-long, a daily effort to become like Christ. I love that word-become. We're not perfect, we can't be in this life. But if we are continually striving to BECOME better and we can look back and say we are becoming who God wants us to be, then that is the best thing!

 With the great message and truth that the gospel has, we need to always be sharing it. What we know has changed our lives and to withhold that from any one of our brothers or sisters, we can't do that. That's not why we are here. Another reason we have so much joy when we see Micheal, he's sharing the happiness this gospel brings to him! He's talking about it, sharing the message and inviting people to church! He truly honestly knows and though he is not even a member, he is already helping others along the path. I honestly cannot WAIT for the 29th! To see him come up out of the water as he is baptized, it will be one of the greatest things and I can tell you right now I will never forget it. This is why I am here, how great is my calling! 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Sounds like things are going great at home. I'm bouncing around to computers trying to get more time so I can reply to all of you, but I'm doing my best! From what another missionary friend sent me today, "Miracles happen on a daily basis." so look for them! They're there, I promise. "Those who leave everything in God's hand will soon see God's hand in everything."

Love you all!
Sister Applegate

Us trying to take a picture with Shaquille on his birthday, dang kid won't look at the camera! The one picture we got with him looking the rest of us are doing who knows what. But whatever. 
We're close to a Marine base, and some of the members of our ward live there. We ate at one of their houses this week, so we got to go on base! Maybe it's not that cool, but I enjoyed it. It's like a private neighborhood with a whole lot of measures taken for security. Just a different feel there, fun to experience. 
Oh and this is how we as missionaries park when we can. Someone always has to stay out of the car and back the driver up for safety, so when we can this is how we park. I didn't realize almost all missionaries do it until we go to meetings and such, all the missionaries park like this. I love it!

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