Happy anniversary to Whitney and Richard tomorrow!!! Woot woot!
This week had a lot of rough moments in it and everything seems to be falling apart but I know we only get broken down so that God can build us up stronger than before. There's a lot happening right now and I am just stressed about what's going to happen within the next few weeks but I am trying to trust that it is all in God's hands and He will take care of things. Among everything yesterday Charlene told us that she won't be coming back to church. That hurt. She explained to us why but I don't understand. There are many reasons. I'm the one that's been here a part of everything from the beginning and she said I did my part and that her baptism was a blessing, but she also said I pushed her and she has distanced herself from the church. She said she would like us to still come over and read scriptures with her but that she doesn't want to go back to church. It sounds like one of the main reasons is that there are only two other black people there and she's like "and now there's two." Well how do you expect us to get more if none of them come?! I was calm with her and she just smiled and hugged me because I think she could see I was about to fall apart. It didn't help that I was about to fall apart before we got to her house and with that I just couldn't take it. When we got in the car to leave Sister Wood asked if I wanted to kind of catch my breath and just cool off for a second but that is the last thing I wanted because I knew I'd break down so we just went right on ahead to the next person. When you put your whole heart into something you tend to get hurt. I know the mission is worth it though, and I can tell you there has been much prayer and will be much more in Charlene's behalf... I'm praying President Hester (the branch president) can try talking to her and understanding her, because I am so worried. I've been a part of four baptisms on my mission and only one is still going to church. She knows it's true, but I still believe the others do too but they're not doing anything anymore. That breaks my heart because if we can't help people stay converted and always be strengthening their testimonies and work towards being together with their families forever in the Celestial kingdom, then why were they baptized? I hope and pray we can help everyone in this area, but Charlene especially quickly before I do leave this area.
With everyone we've been seeing trials have just been heaped upon them. Not little ones either. Sister Wood and other missionaries joke about how we think our tags say "therapist" on it but it's because we really do get so close to everyone we meet and they just open up about their whole lives to us. And everyone is going through trials so we have our own, then everybody else's. It gets a little hard. But it seems like this week had more than others so I now understand what Sister Wood meant yesterday when she said "when it rains it pours." Yeah, got that right. I have a firm testimony though that God will build us up stronger now that we've been broken down a little. Time to let that faith really fight as it's put to the test.
This week did have some really good moments though, we had fun. We had our Zone Training Meeting on Thursday and it was one of the funnest ones I've been to. We always do a "get to know you" game when new missionaries are added to the zone and they usually repeat the same games/questions so they've gotten boring but they were fun this time--we all wrote down answers to questions they had written on the board about us, rolled up our paper and stuck it in a balloon, mixed them up, and then a missionary would pop the balloon they got, read the answers, and we would have to guess the missionary. It was fun! Then we played the game where you blindfold someone and they have two people telling them where to go but that have to follow the right voice so they don't get led astray. We played this with the Bells the other week but the missionaries who set this one up did it how I wanted to-it was legit! We were in a bigger church building and they set up the whole gym with chairs, tables, benches, etc and two of the missionaries had us all tie ties around our eyes and then one was the good guy and the other was the bad guy. Luckily I followed the good voice, haha. It was so fun. At one point I was supposed to be walking up these stairs and not being able to see, I hit into them and I did it pretty hard and I just could not keep my balance so the elder reached out and barely grabbed my finger tips (I guess since he's not supposed to hold hands with a sister, haha) and led me up the stairs. Hahaha. It was so fun. I can only imagine what we looked like. Climbing over benches and crawling under tables--and I did it all in a skirt! That takes skill. :) At the end they told us when in doubt, choose the right! CTR. Turns out the entire course was set up so me and the people who followed the right voice with me, we were always turning right. Clever. :)
We also got to see Joey this week and that was the biggest miracle of all! It was great. Elizabeth was in her room asleep and Edgar was gone to the store so we got to talk to JUST JOEY! I've been waiting for that for so long, to actually TEACH him! And we did. We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it went very well, the Spirit was there. Towards the end Elizabeth woke up and Edgar came home but at least we got a little bit of time. We called him Saturday night and talked to him and he said we always brighten his day, so that was good.
We've also been teaching a woman named Paula and I just admire her so much. She can't read but wanted a Book of Mormon sooo badly. We've been reading it to her. We invited her to be baptized on April 11th and she accepted, yay! We might have to take things slower with her because I don't think she understands much about the Bible or anything so we'll go slower if we need to. She got remarried to a man named Bill, who is the father of our other investigator, Brenda. Brenda is one of the ones going through a ton of trials right now. Yesterday President Hester and Brother Henderson came with us to give her a blessing (she fell and broke her tailbone on Thanksgiving last year and broke some lower vertebrae as well and has been basically bedridden since) and it was really cool. The blessing told her to listen and study the things that we teach her and she will be so blessed. After they left Brenda said we always show up at the perfect time--when her days are the worst we come and she told us we're both a light to her. I really, really like Brenda. And everyone we are working with and teaching. Still just praying everything works out how it's supposed to. I'm grateful for technology and the ability we will have to stay in touch, also through letters. Every one of God's children is so amazing and I am just so grateful to be able to truly gain a testimony of that and see what He sees. I'm grateful for the privilege to be out her serving full-time. It's amazing to me how it feels to be reunited with those you get so close to--this week we have exchanges and I get to go back to Albany for a day, the place where I started my mission. :) I feel like I'm going home because Sister Ward is going to take me to see some of the people I grew to love so much and I can't wait. I know the reunion we'll all have when we get to Heaven will be like this but a million times better! On earth, we're just passing through. We're just meeting the people we're going to Heaven with. So smile!!! It is a great time to be alive! :)
I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know it's true. I know it's been restored in its fulness, and I know it's the only thing that brings true happiness. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the greatest blessing. "I know it, I live it, I love it." :)
Have a blessed week!!!