I am so overwhelmed this week as I write this... I feel so much love all around me and it moves me to tears! It started right before Sister Walton and I headed to the library to email, when I picked up a package from the Post Office from Jordan. It's a "birthday package"- filled with presents for each day of the week! I was already speechless, and then I came and read all your emails this week and I am just filled with gratitude and awe for all the love and support I have. Thank you for the pictures and emails!!! I seriously must be doing something right because I truly feel like the luckiest girl alive!
So the weather is FINALLY cooling off here in Lake Havasu. We're in the double digits and I am overjoyed about it. 95 degrees never felt so good. It's a good thing it's cooling off too, because otherwise Sister Walton just might melt - coming from Alaska and all ;) She's adjusting so well and works hard everyday. I am so grateful for her.
This week we had a few noteworthy experiences. First, we got a solid new investigator named Yolanda. Sister Cook and I met her street contacting one of my first few weeks in Havasu, and we put her on one of our "Potential Investigator" sheets in the Area Book. While Sister Cook was here, we stopped by her house a number of times, but were never really able to teach her a lesson for some reason or another. Yolanda lives in a poorer side of town, in a trailer home. She's in her mid 50s, recently moved here from California (we actually met her the week she moved in), is very religious, but doesn't attend any particular congregation, and LOVES to talk. And talk. And talk. It's been frustrating in the past talking to her because we can hardly get a word in, and she goes off on forever long tangents until it's time to go and we've gotten nowhere. Sister Walton and I scheduled to go visit her this week, and I was determined to teach her the first lesson because I felt like she'd be receptive - if only she'd let us teach! The night before Sister Cook left we'd been planning to teach it to her, but we ended up just leaving her a Restoration pamphlet and telling her to read it before we came back. So Sister Walton and I stopped by in the early evening on Monday night and caught her as she was out watering her plants. I quickly directed the conversation towards the Restoration, and asked her if she'd read the pamphlet. We got the usual answer in response - "Oh, I've just been so busy and too tired to read!" So I asked if we could read it then with her. Much to my surprise, she went inside, brought out the pamphlet and pulled up some chairs for us to sit on, which she'd never done before! And for the first time, she was silent. She listened closely to us as we taught, and nodded her head in understanding the whole time. When we recited the First Vision in Joseph Smith's words, she began to cry. I don't think she even really understood what she was feeling. She said, "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm crying! It's just so powerful!" The spirit was strong, and it was probably the best first lesson I've had on my mission yet. She took the Book of Mormon and agreed to read, and accepted the invitation to be baptized, if she felt that it was true. Sister Walton and I left on Cloud 9... typically lessons don't go that smoothly and easily. I was filled with excitement as we drove away - "THIS is what it's supposed to be like!" it thought. "THIS is what I have been working for! THIS is what I have prepared for and labored for and prayed for and cried unto the Lord for!" If only Yolanda could see the years of preparation that had gone into bringing the Spirit and truthfulness of that lesson to her. Even if she doesn't end up accepting the Restored Gospel, or reading the Book of Mormon, or coming into His fold through baptism... that lesson was a small victory for me. A small miracle that has kept me going, and one for which I will always be grateful.
we went on exchanges. Sister Arnold came to Crossman Peak with me. I LOVE being with Sister Arnold. I gain so much strength from her example. I always feel motivated to work harder when she's around. We had so much fun and found a few new families to teach while she was here with me! She's so personable and fearless in talking to people, and it makes me feel that way too. I really look up to her and am SOOO grateful she got transferred to Havasu; she has changed my perspective on so much and has been the greatest blessing. She goes home in December and then will head up to BYU-I in January (give her love from me, Jakey!).
evening, right before the Women's broadcast, Sister Walton and I stopped by a referral from a sister in the ward, Sister Abbott. We'd had dinner at her house the night before and she'd mentioned that she just had new neighbors move in who were very nice. She wanted us to stop by and invite them to church. We decided to make the quick stop just before heading over to the church to watch the broadcast. We knocked on the door, and out came a nice-looking older man (about 60 probably), who began making friendly conversation with us. He shook our hands and said, "Now, where are you from?" I thought that was a strange question to ask right off the bat. I told him I was a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And then I added that I was from Texas. He smiled and asked the same thing to Sister Walton. "Well Walton and Robinson, it's nice to meet. Here, take a seat" (he pointed to his porch chairs) "I want to hear what you have to say." Wow, we were pretty speechless! Not very many people are rude to us, but most aren't that warm either. We thought it'd be a pretty good visit. He started asking us all kind of thought-provoking questions, like "What is God's name?" and "What is our purpose in being on Earth?" etc. I was excited because we had so much to share and I knew his questions could be answered primarily through the Plan of Salvation. But I soon grew frustrated, because every time we tried to talk, he'd talk over us and ask another question, and then talk some more.
"What does the Bible say is God's name? Not his title (God), but his NAME?" He had us open a scripture, which basically said God's name was Jehovah. Then he kept rattling on and on about how Adam and Eve sinned against God, using the worst possible use of their agency, and partook of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden. And how God originally intended for all of mankind to live in a perfect paradise here on Earth, but because of Adam and Eve, we are all fallen. But God's perfect government and purposes will one day be re-established, and on and on. Finally I asked him if he attended a church there in town. "I do," he replied. "Which one do you think I attend?"
"Well I know many people go to Calvary Baptist," I said. "Do you go there?"
He shook his head slightly and said, "Which church uses God's very name?"
I realized then that he was a Jehovah's Witness, trying to prove to us how wrong we were and how we need to fix the error of our ways. I wanted to leave, because it became apparent that we weren't going to get anywhere. But he and Sister Walton kept talking. I just sat back and listened, growing frustrated and angry. What was his point? Did he really think that in one brief conversation he was going to convince two Mormon missionaries that they were wrong? Get us to roll over and quit and go home? Finally we left. Our brief "stop-by" had turned into an hour visit. He'd refused to accept a Book of Mormon ("I will NOT let that book inside my home"), but wouldn't let us leave without a book from him titled, "What does the Bible really teach?" Oh boy. It was an experience. And definitely eye-opening. Above all else, I learned from it that you can't intellectualize the Gospel. And you're never going to convince someone of truth by Bible bashing. The Spirit is the teacher and the ONLY sure witness of truth.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It's seriously already been one of the best birthdays yet - and it hasn't even come yet! I think that's just a witness to the abundant blessings of being a missionary :)
I love you all! Happy October!