Oh, this week was so good! Probably one of the best on my mission. Taking on Greenbriar Ward has kept us so busy and it has been so rewarding. I just collapse in exhaustion at the end of each night. It's a good feeling.
I love the Greenbriar ward already. It has been a busy week, trying to split our time between there and Villa Bonita. We're still trying to figure it all out, but we have a great ward helping us out. The members in GB have just poured over us... "Sisters?? OH, we are SO happy to have you here!!!' The reaction from all the members has been the same. They haven't had sisters in a few years, so they've just been overjoyed, haha! The area wasn't left in the best condition, so there is so much to do and so many new places to explore and contact in. I am really excited for this transfer!
We got a referral this week of a woman named Karen. We stopped by her home in the GB ward boundaries and found ourselves in this beautiful living room surrounded by Bible quotes and crosses. She ushered us in and sat us down. We began talking and she explained that the home had recently been gutted out and renovated by a local church, Central Christian. It has 7 large bedrooms and was renovated with the intent of providing a home for struggling women coming from jail to live in and get back on their feet. It had just opened, so there were only 3 women currently living there, but Karen explained that in a few weeks, there'd be about 20 women, all from rough backgrounds of drugs and alcohol.... Karen introduced herself as the daytime manager of the home and explained that Central Christian wanted to bring in ministers from different churches to help these women find some sort of relationship with a higher being. She'd been struggling to figure out where to start in getting ministers from different congregations in, when she ran into some elders on the street and flagged them down. "I thought, 'Oh this is perfect!' and stopped them, explained my situation, and they said they'd pass my information on... and now here you are! I'm so glad you're here!" Karen said. She walked us through the house... it was beautiful, calming, and refreshing. The pantry was filled with donated food for the residents of the home. The rooms were decorated differently (a number of members from Central Christian had come in and taken a room and decorated it according to their own taste and style). Everything looked like it'd come out of an Anthropologie catalogue. I felt a chill run through me as we walked through each room... What a different place this home would be for so many women who were coming from such horrible pasts.
"I just want you girls to come in and talk to these women and see what you can do. Just do your thing... Some may accept you, some may not. The point is we just want them to build a better life for themselves by cultivating their spiritual sides." We felt so honored to be given this opportunity! We set a day to come back next month when the home will be filled with about 20 women. We will preparing ourselves for then... I really feel that a big miracle could come of this!
It was a miracle week for finding. Every day this week, it just seemed like the most perfect people fell into our laps - people who are prepared and receptive to what we have to share. One of them is a woman named Rose, who our ward mission leader, Brother Boyd, referred to us. She'd walked into Deseret Industries a few weeks ago, seeking a job. When she asked the employees how she could apply, they responded that she'd need to get a referral from her bishop. Of course she asked, "What's a bishop and where can I find one?" Haha. And so she found her way to us. She is from the Philippines, in her early 30s, and is married with 1 son (I think she said he's 7). In our first lesson with her, which we had at Bro Boyd's home, she said: "I just really want to Spirit in my life. How do I get it? I want it with me always." It was fun teaching her... she is spiritually sensitive and ready to learn more.
Now that we're over 2 wards, we get double the church on Sundays. It was so fun going to the Greenbriar ward sacrament meeting yesterday... the Bishopric had us sit on the stand so they could introduce us. Again, there was the same elated response from the congregation. The last speaker of the meeting was a young dad named Brother Williams. He stood up and said something to this effect: "I was planning on speaking today on a certain subject and I was preparing thoughts on it many days ago, but for whatever reason that initial subject just didn't seem right to me. I was led to change the topic to narrow in on this question: What is it that we do in our lives that distances ourselves from God? Why is it that sometimes our Savior seems so unfamiliar and far away?' ... I've been thinking on the things that draw our Savior close. I think of people who you just meet and you KNOW they are close to the Savior" - here he named a sister in the ward, Sister Earl, and praised her for her Christlike nature and grace, and then he surprised me and mentioned Sister Cook and I - "And then we walked in today and I saw our new sister missionaries and I felt of them the same way I felt of Sister Earl. I've heard good things of them already and when I saw them I just knew by the Spirit they carry that they too are very, very close to our Savior." I was touched by his words. I believe his comments were an answer to my prayers. I have lately asked the question of why it sometimes so frequently feels as if I don't actually know Jesus Christ as personally, intimately, and fully as I yearn to. But Brother Williams' remarks provided me with this valuable insight: perhaps, I am much, much closer to Him than I think. Perhaps, He is, in reality, very close by. Perhaps He really is not so much of a stranger, but actually an ever-present companion.
I had such a good feeling after church yesterday. This is where I am needed and I'm thrilled to serve here.
Thanks for the emails and letters! I got tons this week. I felt so loved :) I love you!