Oh me oh my... where to begin?? This week has been so much fun but also exhausting. Everyday has been jam packed, but I love how busy we always are. I got emails from Borgs, Mom, Dad, and Sum this week - oh joy! I love hearing from each of you. Thank you thank you. I also got a fresh container of honey from Wendy (I haven't tried it yet because I'm waiting to run out of the honey i already have but I am just giddy with excitement about it!), and 2 huge letters from Jordan and Samantha. Every one of those mail deliveries were much needed and I've been overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support I've received from back home!
The Ward Rescue on Saturday was incredible. I was so impressed with the organization of it all and the joint efforts of the whole ward. Seriously, everyone was on fire! We had 3 different shifts throughout the day - , , and . Ward members who came at each shift received a bag of 3 households to visit and then went into the Relief Society room to get a 15 minute training before going out to visit the homes. Our ward mission leaders explained that the purpose behind the rescue was to contact those individuals we don't know and see A. If they still live there, B. what they're like, and C. if they're interested in having home and visiting teachers come visit them every month. Then we'd offer them an invite to a ward picnic we're having by the lake next month. After each visit, the ward members would write down their observations and mark whether the households were "hot, warm, or cold" (AKA interested, semi-interested, or not interested at all in the church). If someone wasn't home, the name would be brought back and set in a bag for the next shift. Members came back with some really awesome stories, and out of the 120 households, we contacted 90, 29 no longer live at their listed address, 30 still need to be visited, and 5 were very "hot" and interested in coming back to church. I was overwhelmingly impressed with the enthusiasm of the ward and the leaders. I am just so grateful. Sister Cook and I have so much work to follow-up on from that Day of Miracles, and we are thrilled to get busy this week. And to top off the day, we had Tammy's baptism.... Does that sound like a solid missionary day or what?? Everything turned out beautifully.
I learned an important lesson as I watched our Ward Rescue unfold on Saturday: The success of any organization, event, or cause boils down to good leadership. And the core of good leadership is personal character. And personal character is structured by building blocks of daily habits - the little things. I have observed the leadership of the ward closely. I have been in their homes, observed their behaviors and demeanors, interacted with and conversed with and learned from them. The bishop (Bishop Hansen), the relief society president (Sister Aston), our ward mission leaders (Brother Hauck, Brother Mundy, Brother Aston)... their faith is rooted in the Savior and in His Gospel. Their motivation to serve stems from their love of Jesus Christ and His teachings and their desire to further His work in "bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." I enjoy working closely with them, meeting with them each week in ward council, and serving alongside them as we strive to bring everyone to taste of the happiness that comes from knowing His full truth. I feel like I ramble about them a lot, but I just can't get over how lucky I am to be in their ward at this time!!
On Friday this week, Sister Cook, Sister Arnold, Sister Lowry, and I woke up bright and early and headed to Vegas for the day. Every quarter, the mission holds a Sisters Conference where all the sisters in the mission gather to hear some speakers and eat lunch together. We went to that from vulnerability TED talk that changed your life, Sum! I was in tears the moment she brought up the subject. I felt like she was speaking right to me; the words and thoughts you shared with me months ago were repeated through her. They were powerful. The thought occurred to me: "Well, you didn't really absorb the message months ago when Summer shared it with you, so will you do so now?" I know it wasn't just a coincidence that she shared what she did... I need to learn how to let myself be more vulnerable, especially as a missionary. I have weaknesses, I am imperfect. I am an especially imperfect missionary, and I should not be afraid to let others see that. She was a talented speaker - you would have loved listening to her. I thought of you the whole time. . It was so fun seeing Sister Browning, as always. And I finally met Sister Cook's previous companions who she's told me so much about. We had all the sister training leaders address us, and then we had 2 speakers from LDS family services. The second one to speak, Stephanie, gave a very powerful talk on vulnerability. As in, she based her message off of the
One last experience before I go... Yesterday's sacrament meeting in church was one of the most special experiences I've had on my mission thus far. This is what I wrote about it in my journal:
"Today's Sacrament meeting was so special. Sister Cook and I sat down with a family who came to say goodbye to her from the previous ward she served in in Henderson (The Marleys - they're moving to Oregon). We had been shocked by their appearance - Sister Cook was overjoyed - so we were already emotional to begin with. Then in walks Virgil and Kaitlyn Sipes. In CHURCH! All cleaned up and ready to worship. I was elated. As the meeting started, Sister Cook tapped me and I looked at her, her face in shock, her jaw dropped, staring ahead of us. I tried to follow her gaze - it took me a moment to process and register what she was reacting to. And then I saw Sister Wheatley, scrambling to find a place to sit in the nearest pew, and I understood. My jaw dropped as well and then I just couldn't stop myself - I began to weep. I will never forget it. We have been praying for her, thinking of her, working with her, TRYING SO HARD to drill it into her head that she must ACT in order to make a change in her life, in order to feel the power of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Earlier this week I left her home in frustrated tears, exasperated with her lack of commitment and follow through. I was in a terrible mood for the hour following because I just wanted to scream, "WHAT IS THE POINT?!" I found I needed patience and love. I let the Lord chasten me and promised to be filled with more compassion and charity and to never give up on her. And then today happened. She came on her OWN... we didn't even send her a reminder text. And then afterwards she texted us asking if we'd grab her some tithing slips for her and her dad. Oh, what joy i felt. I want everyone to experience it - it exceeds every emotion I've ever felt before. It a miracle, straight from heaven in my behalf."
Have a wonderful, wonderful week!!
All my love,