What a spiritually renewing week! I feel filled up.
We went on a few exchanges this week - on one, a newer sister, Sister Thornock, came here with me. She has a crazy mission story so far... She was originally called to Tahiti, Tahitian and French speaking, and was in the MTC for 8 weeks when she unexpectedly got sick, and had to get a new state-side call. So she got called here, and came in the middle of a transfer a couple transfers ago. She's been in the field about 3 months, but on her mission for over 5. She's training this transfer, and I talked to her a lot about her feelings in the work. She reminds me so much of myself last September. As she spoke of the challenges and struggles she finds in the work, a wave of all the emotions that come with training and being a new missionary came back to me. I had almost forgotten what those days were like! We had a day of great lessons and contacts, and I felt the Spirit carry us through each hour. At the close of the exchange, I invited her to accept all the emotions that come with being a missionary - the awkward, the difficult, the trying, the disappointing, the discouraging, and especially the rich and the rewarding. All of those feelings are what make our mission experiences so sacred. The exchange was a sweet reminder to me of all the special lessons I've learned here.
Our Halloween here was fun. The ward held a trunk-or-treat night - I always love eating up the chili and cornbread at those, haha! Sister Haycock and I get teased all the time that we don't have accents, being from Texas and Georgia, so we threw on the most Southern outfits we could find in our limited wardrobe and spoke with Southern accents for the night. Not sure if we passed off as Southern Belles or not, but it gave us a good laugh nonetheless! We also decided to switch name tags, so I introduced myself as Hermana Haycock from Atlanta, Georgia for the night, haha! Also (as a side-note), we made sure to record our voicemail at the beginning of the transfer speaking with our accents... we've gotten some good laughs from people who listen to it when we miss their calls! for Halloween, all the missionaries gathered at the mission office so that we were all off the streets for the evening. President surprised us with showing the movie "The Cokeville Miracle". Have you seen that? I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. It was so good. There was a tangible spirit there... I almost felt like we were all elevated to a different plane. It was incredible. That would be a great movie to watch for family home evening, if you haven't already seen it!
Things are going so well here. This week we set 4 people with a baptismal date! Geoff finally accepted a date of - he wants to wait till after Christmas when his divorce has died down. He openly admits that his head isn't all into the lessons right now because he's so distracted with the trauma of the divorce, but he wants to keep meeting with us until that full focus comes. We also found a woman named Tracey who is a single mom with 2 young kids - Elizabeth (6) and Michael (4). She's a kindergarten teacher, and she doesn't have much religious background, but she's very obviously interested in gaining peace and stability in her life as a single parent. The father of her kids was really abusive and is no longer in the picture, and I think she carries a lot of anxiety over some things that have happened in the past. I don't think she grasps alot of what we teach at this point, but the Spirit is strong in the lessons, which I think was the biggest factor in her agreeing to baptism on . The ZL's got this new program from a man in their ward that he used as a missionary in the Ogden mission - it's called "Proselyting for the Elect", and it basically outlines little things we can do differently to be more effective and find more elect people to teach. One thing it suggests is called the "Holy Ghost Dialogue", where you explain the role, purpose, and power of the Holy Ghost before you even say the opening prayer when first meeting with someone. You explain that it is through the HG that they can understand our message and feel it is true for themselves. After explaining it, we ask: "When you receive these feelings throughout our visits, will you accept them as an answer from God?" So we did that with Tracey, and when we followed up with her the next visit about her prayers over Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon she said: "I did pray, and I got those feelings. It was in the morning. I felt peace and understanding." Ah! You can imagine our excitement. I feel like it's pretty rare that someone gets a direct answer after the first visit, at least it has been for me. Probably because I haven't been the best at explaining how to receive answers to prayers. So I'm thrilled about this "Proselyting for the Elect" thing! It has awesome ideas, especially for working with members.
I feel like I've caught another wind, and I feel so energized and invested in my relationships here. Next week marks the start of my last transfer, and I still feel a deep love for what I'm doing. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers.
Have a happy week!
Love you forever,