I cannot believe it has already been a week! That was by far the fastest of my whole mission. It was probably because it was the busiest week of my mission! But boy did I enjoy it though. :) Last Monday Elder Barlow and I actually had a few hours of a preparation day so we decided to take full advantage of it! We went to the North Carolina state museum and had a blast! We took some pictures there and made the most of the time we had! We worked the rest of the night and went tracting! :) We have been very diligent on the doors and don't take no for an answer! This is the truth, we are called of God to change your life! He has called a prophet in our day! This is the way He wants you to follow Him! Tuesday was the beginning of the busy schedule as we had our first zone conference of the transfer. We have 7 zones and therefore we have 7 conferences planned out during the course of 4 weeks and they all go from 8 in the morning until 4 In the afternoon! Our first one was here in Raleigh and it went very well! All of the instructions given were very uplifting and inspirational. Thankfully my instruction also went well. I have 30 minutes to use and the objective of my instruction is to help us become more effective teachers while tracting! My first point is that we must smile on the doors! Our message is one of joy, we must convey it. If the joy of the gospel is not on our faces, how can we ever feel it in our hearts? My second point is that we must never be easily defeated. Like I said, we are called of God! We must share our message until the people we are talking to either slam the door in our faces or let us in. Slam the door because they realize we know our message is true and we're not giving up, or let us in because they feel the Spirit testify to them also that it's true. It was incredible to see the hand of God in my instruction, numerous times as I was speaking amazing phrases came into my head that I had never thought of! Things such as "Sometimes we have to fight a little harder to find those that will be a little stronger". After the close of the conference, President asked to speak to us privately in his office. He let us know that a few Elders were having some problems and that we needed to split them up. We planned out the whole transfer of who would go where and with whom and then we went to do it! We moved the Elders around and did our best to inspire hope and love into them. We got home around midnight and were asleep before the door closed behind us! We woke up early Wednesday morning to have another zone conference in Apex! It was equally as fantastic! Except for the fact that the lunch gave everyone food poisoning... haha classic Hispanic food. After our conference in Apex, we went to a dinner in Falls Lake (our area) and the members gave us HUGE steaks!! They were amazing. We visited Rich after, one of our investigators, and talked to him about his baptismal date for June 10th. He has such great desires to make it, he is just struggling with smoking! We had a powerful lesson with him and he told me after that I speak with great power and authority. I doubt that is true, but I was so happy to hear him say that because that means the Spirit was testifying to him with great force! He promised that he will make it to the 10th of June and that he will put an end to his bad habits. He told us how badly he wants to be a member of the church! He is one of the most elect people I have ever taught! We had to get a lot of work done in the office on Thursday to make up for the other days that we couldn't go in. We had to go pick up some new Malibu's coming into the mission and we got to drive them alone! It was fun driving back to the church side by side. Elder Barlow actually tried to take a shortcut to beat me and he got lost! He ended up calling me and needed me to give him directions back to the church! I luckily was able to guide him back, but only after taking him in a few circles of course. ;) We visited Yuliya, one of our really solid investigators who is actually Russian, later that night and she is doing great! She has actually read through the entire Book of Mormon before! We talked about how that is the evidence of our message and that if it is true, everything else is true too! We planned out a fast with her and her husband so that she can receive an answer! We then had to run to the church and plan our instructions for a meeting the following day. Without much time, we prayed with faith and were able to plan out a pretty decent 20 minute instruction! I know God has his hand in this work, that was truly a miracle! The next day we had Mission Leadership Council, a meeting with all of our zone leaders and sister training leaders and President and Sister James. Our discussions went really well along with our instructions and we are excited to help the mission this coming month! After MLC, an investigator called us and asked if she could take us to dinner with her three sons and we had a great time! We taught a lesson afterwards in the parking lot and it was amazing. The sons are pretty excited to be baptized!! We tracted the rest of the night and loved every second of it. I love showing the Lord our level of faith and commitment!! I also got a package on Friday from my delightful sister and it was a huge blessing. She is the best, I love her so much!!! :) Saturday went by at the speed of light. We started our Saturday meeting with President James at 9 in the morning and we didn't get out until 6! A lot of top secret confidential stuff was coordinated and we are excited for the upcoming changes in the mission. :) Let's just say, it was a lot of work!! Following our meeting with President, we went to dinner with one of our ward mission leaders and he had a friend there for us to teach! We had a great lesson and Alex (the friend) is very interested! He was wanting to come to church today, but he had already made other commitments. We will see him again tomorrow night though and it should go well! Today was of course a delight, isn't every Sunday?!? Yuliya came to church and as we were fasting for her, she had a thought that she needs to go back to the Russian Orthodox church she grew up in to see how it feels to her. We at first were hesitant, but quickly felt that this is what she needs to receive her answer. She will feel the difference in spirit and will have her testimony confirmed that this is the true church! We tracted the rest of the night tonight and even when we had 3 minutes left, we ran to the next door to knock it and we actually found a new investigator! His name is Sahr and he is from west Africa! He is very interested in our message and is excited to come to know that it is true! It was an incredible week, I love seeing the daily miracles. The Lord truly provides when we put our faith and trust in him.
This was the best week of my mission!! I am absolutely loving every second up here in Raleigh. The promise land! Elder Barlow is an incredible companion and we are having a blast. Last Monday we went suit shopping and both bought new suits! We are excited to tour the mission throughout the transfer with our 7 different zone conferences. We have about 2 each week, it is about to get pretty busy!! We didn't have much of a preparation day with all of our meetings with President and what not, but that's okay, I'm here to work anyways! :) Once we got back into the good hours (the working hours), we met with one of our Bishops and we set up a time with them for when they are going to invite a non-member into their home for us to teach! We actually ended up having that lesson yesterday and it was incredible! The young man was so interested in everything we shared, he even came to church today! What a blessing. Tuesday was a crazy day!! We drove for 8 hours. We started the day off by going to the mission office and getting a few things done. While we were there, the office staff asked us to run a few errands for them. The first stop was two hours away to Siler City where we took the Elders there a new phone. While in Siler, we ate lunch at a place I used to love eating at when I served there! It is called Sir Pizza and it is delicious! We then drove another two hours from Siler City to Sanford where we delivered a different phone to some Sisters. From Sanford we drove an additional two hours to Fayetteville where we went on an exchange with the zone leaders there for the rest of the night. It was a great exchange, I went with Elder Jones! He is an incredible missionary. We actually went onto base at Fort Bragg and it was awesome! We had some solid lessons with some of their investigators, and we set goals and made plans to help their zone improve. We then drove two hours back up to Raleigh where we slept in our nice comfy beds. We went to a district meeting Wednesday morning and it was very inspirational! Elder Hoggan is a great district leader. We went to lunch afterwards at a place called Cici's and as we walked in, a woman stood up and demanded to pay for all of us!! What a tender mercy. I know she will be blessed for that! After lunch we went on another exchange with our zone leaders here in Raleigh. I was blessed to go with Elder Sheely in his area (the Spanish area of Raleigh, AKA my favorite area). Elder Sheely is a powerful missionary and is such a good example to me! We did some good old tracting in a nice Hispanic trailer park and we found a new man there to teach! We then went to dinner and boy did I get full! I hadn't eaten like that in forever! I forgot how much the Hispanic members feed you! It was so good though, how I have missed that food. :) We then visited a less active member I used to work with a lot and we actually had a breakthrough lesson with them! I guess some things have recently happened and they hadn't felt comfortable sharing it with any of their current missionaries. Thankfully they felt comfortable sharing it with us and we were able to resolve some concerns. They should be back on track now! They fed us more food while we were there and I was convinced I was going to explode haha! I had a neat experience that night as I got a call from a good friend, my former scout master, Brother Plewe! He was passing through the area and wanted to say hello! Sadly I wasn't able to meet up in person, but we had a little conversation over the phone and it was good to hear from him!! Thursday morning we of course went tracting and we had a blast as we always do, regardless of if we find someone or not! :) We had to take our car into the shop for an oil change and we didn't want to be stuck at the shop waiting for it, so we grabbed an extra car from the mission office and after dropping off our car at the shop, we went working with the extra car. It was fun to drive to the shop alone in our car!! First time in 20 months! We got some things done at the mission office and while we were there, one of the office workers that I work closely with told me that in all his time there, he's never seen the car and mileage reports as organized as they are now! So that was good to hear that at least I am doing something right ha.. We got caught up in our office work and made it home at 5:55. We were determined to be obedient though and get out the door before 6 so we scarfed down some cereal and got back out the door! We went and did service for some elderly people and made a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! We also knocked some doors and stayed effective with our time. Friday was a blessed day as we went on our third exchange for the week. I went up to Durham with Elder Garlick, our zone leader up there, while his companion came to my area with Elder Barlow. It was an exchange full of miracles! We literally tracted all day with a total of 6 hours on the doors! But, we found 4 new investigators! One of which was previously going to get baptized! He had moved though and had lost contact with the missionaries. What a miracle that we found him!! Another one of the 4 was very in need of the message. She was in tears on her doorstep as we shared with her the blessings and peace that she will receive as she acts on this message. A great exchange, I learned so much from Elder Garlick! Saturday was busy with our weekly meeting with President James taking up most of the morning/afternoon. We got a lot planned though! Sister James again made us an incredible lunch and it was delicious! After lunch we got on the doors and found a man by the name of Frank! It was a great story. We tried to share the message with him and numerous times he cut us off to tell us he wasn't interested. We kept sharing the message with different tactics and eventually even after him rejecting us 9 times, we got in the door! We had a powerful lesson with him and he agreed to let us come back. He promised us he would listen with an open heart and pray about our message! That right there Brothers and Sisters is why we must never be easily defeated! We tracted for the rest of the day and we found someone else to teach as well! Today was beautiful. We had 6 of our investigators come to church and they all loved it! Many of them are going to bring their spouses next Sunday! We had a great dinner with a counselor in the bishopric and we helped get his family on board with missionary work! Following dinner, we knocked on their neighbor's door and although the man condemned us to hell and told us we are on the wrong path, we kept the smiles on our faces alive and we testified to him of our message. It took him back so strongly that he began to shake and fear! With a shaky voice he attempted to keep bashing us, but our testimonies were firm. We truly confounded him as the scriptures would call it. It is amazing to know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ! Nothing will ever change that! We are firm and valiant in our testimonies of it. We will defend it to our dying day, this is the truth! What greater cause could we have than to stand for this message of hope, truth, and love! We continued to tract and we found quite a few people! One of which lost his mother this morning and he asked us to pray for him. After the prayer he hugged both of us and we shared the plan of salvation with him. I know this is God's work. It has to be! When we seek his will above our own, he will guide our paths and our lives will be made great in his hands.
Oh my goodness gracious, that was a week full of learning, new experiences, and joyous memories! Last Monday we had an office meeting wherein President James, Sister James, us, and the office staff all get together and we discuss the administrative needs of the mission. We had a great time together and then went to pick up the new missionaries from the airport! What a special memory that was! They were all very nervous and we took each of them around the airport to do some contacting. They did great! We got their luggage and drove back to the mission home! We had a wonderful dinner provided by our office staff as well as my personal favorite, nanner puddin'!! A testimony meeting then took place and we were able to testify to these new missionaries of the blessings and joys that come as we serve our missions! We got home pretty late that night and then had to wake up extra early to be able to get to the mission home and wake them up at 6:30! The signature breakfast was provided (oat waffles with ice cream, apple sauce, and a special kind of syrup) and it was delicious! After breakfast we carried them all in our van to the church and we had a few meetings for both the trainers and the trainees. It was a pleasure to instruct them at both! All the transferring missionaries then got to the church and we helped them find their new companions! It was fun to see all of my favorite missionaries!! I have come to love literally every missionary in this mission, they are doing great things being out here on a mission! After sending them all away to their new areas, we gathered the departing missionaries in our van and we drove them to the mission home. We had a party! We had a delicious dinner, played a lot of ping pong, and had a powerful testimony meeting. It was incredible to see the difference in testimonies from the night before. Such strong missionaries. The mission is going to miss those great examples of obedience and hard work! We continued to play ping pong after the testimony portion and President even got in on the action. He's pretty good! We ended up going to bed around 2 in the morning and then woke up at 4 to take them all to the airport! After helping them get through security, we traveled back to the mission home and updated the transfer board in President's office. We were so tired!! We hadn't slept in days! We finished the board, cleaned up the mission home, quickly ran to the store to buy groceries and then went home to take a President James approved nap. I guess it's a tradition that every Wednesday after transfers the assistants take a short nap! Even though it was only an hour, it was wonderful! We woke up, ran to the office to update a few things, and then went to teach the gospel! The first investigator that I met here in Falls Lake was Rich, he is extraordinary! He has read through the Book of Mormon once and is now reading it again! He has a baptismal date for June 10th and he is going to make it for sure! He has a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the restoration! It was a blast to teach someone so elect!! The following day I met even more elect people! After having gone to the office in the morning to plan out some things, we visited Mike! Elder Barlow tracted into him the week before I got here and had shared the restoration with him. Upon our return, Mike had taken a pad of paper and had written out a list of questions to ask! He is so prepared!! The Spirit was abundant and he very firmly agreed to come to church! I asked him if he would get baptized upon receiving a confirmation from God that this church is true and his answer was "Well, I would have to!" We are excited to watch him progress! I then got to meet a Russian investigator by the name of Yulia, she is great! She has been meeting with missionaries since December and is all ready for baptism, she is just waiting for an answer! She is progressing and now believes that God not only can answer her prayers, but that He will! A neat experience happened in our lesson with her this week. We were teaching her about the Spirit World and we had explained that it is a place of waiting, a place where those that have died can learn of the gospel and accept baptism through our proxy work. She wasn't agreeing with a lot of doctrine having to do with the Spirit World, but all of a sudden she stopped mid-sentence and said in her thick Russian accent, "Wow! I see it now. I understand what it is that you are talking about." She continued by explaining that 15 years ago she had had a dream wherein she saw her deceased father and grandfather. They looked pale and sad. There was a beautiful purple door with light coming from the other side of it, but they told her that they couldn't' move towards it. They told her that they were waiting. 15 years later that dream was brought to her remembrance and she then understood not only the doctrine of the Spirit World, but the need to be baptized in behalf of our dead. We feel she is very close to baptism and will make it there shortly! Finishing the night, we visited one more investigator and he told me that he thinks I should be on a toothpaste commercial! Haha not the job of my dreams, but we'll see what happens! Friday we had a leadership training meeting and thankfully everything ran smoothly! I instructed on what information needs to be communicated between leaders and the most effective way to do so! We were blessed to hear from President James as he gave an incredible instruction on how to be a good leader. He is one of the best! I received a tender mercy during the meeting, we were talking about the influence we can have on our missionaries by going on exchanges with them and an Elder there shared a story. He explained that early in his mission he was pretty disobedient and he didn't have a desire to do many things. He went on to share the story of an exchange he went on with me during that time of his mission. He explained that I taught him that we can still be "cool" while being obedient. He said I taught him how to have real joy while doing the work and what fun on the mission looks like. It seemed to have really impacted him, yet all I remember was trying to lift and inspire him! It is amazing how the Lord will magnify us and will make our influence to be great when we simply show up and have the courage to open our mouths! After the meeting we went out to work and began to knock doors! We quickly felt that we weren't in the right area so we said a prayer and felt that we needed to start driving north! We began to drive and did our best to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We found ourselves in a very nice neighborhood and as we drove along, a white truck stood out to me and I told Elder Barlow that we needed to stop and talk to the family in that home! We knocked on the door and a man immediately let us in! We quickly discovered that he was actually a member of the church! He asked us what brought us to his home and we told him that we were on an errand for the Lord. The family gathered together and let us know that they were in need of a message. We opened the Book of Mormon and 3 Nephi 22:10 came to mind. As we shared the powerful verses, the Spirit engulfed the room and the mother began to cry. We testified of our Savior and felt to promise very specific blessings. As we did so, the mother began to cry harder and after a few moments of sitting in silence, she looked up at us through her tears and said "You're like a little prophet!" We asked to have a prayer with them and as the father offered it, he too was brought to tears and it was a tender moment. We left that home not knowing exactly what we had just been a part of, but we knew that the Lord will guide us to those in need. If we simply listen for his voice, we will be lead! Imagine the miracles that would happen if Elders quorum presidents or home teachers were to devote a night to prayerfully visiting families in need! We tracted the rest of the night and felt the Spirit abundantly. Saturday morning we had our weekly transfer meeting with President and we were able to make a lot of progress with the policy changes we are planning on making to the mission! We had a great lunch with him afterwards thanks to Sister James and my favorite part was the traditional chocolate milk float! We tracted the rest of the day and found a woman by the name of Johneisha! Sunday was outstanding. Both of the wards that we cover here are amazing!! A few of our investigators came to church and they loved it! We were blessed to be able to talk to our families and I wished my mother the biggest happy mother's day!! She is truly such an incredible woman and I am blessed to know her and have her as my own!! It was a great skype call and it was actually my last one of the mission! We were able to share many scriptures and stories and we had a lot of fun. It was a great day and a great week! The best week of my whole mission!! I am loving my time in the Lord's work and I am doing my best to love, cherish, and enjoy every minute of it!
Blessed with the greatest mother of them all,
What a busy week! I don't have a ton of time today to email because I have actually been called to serve as the new assistant to the mission president! A few weeks ago in my interview with President James, he called me to serve with him and I can't believe it's already here! We are on a tight schedule and will be picking up the new missionaries soon, so I will make this quick! I loved this week!! I am loving every minute of the work. It was the best week of my mission!! Last Monday we went frolfing again and then went to buy some snow cones! Haha I got the biggest one they had, it was huge! We taught Kabin later that night, the man that walked into church last Sunday! He is so strong, we taught him the plan of salvation and he is ready for his baptism! The following day, we saw some gators at the park!! They were massive, we took some pictures of them! We then went tracting in downtown Wilmington and we ran into a man that was pretty drunk. He told us that because we were in the hood, someone would either rob us of all of our money or if we didn't have any money, they would kill us! I told him neither of those options sounded pretty good and left him with a card ha! We visited Karen DeMata next and we talked about her getting baptized. She told us that she has been thinking. We asked her about what and she said "I'm going to do it! I'm ready, let's go!" We set a date for this coming Saturday, we are so excited for her! She has had her interview and everything, she is ready and very excited! She even said "I don't know why I waited so long! I guess I was just waiting for the right missionaries." I am so happy for her, she is amazing! We tried to visit a less active that night, but he didn't want anything to do with us! It was so sad to see him reject a message, especially because we could see him fighting the Spirit!! Wednesday was a good day, we went down to district meeting in Southport and we had the meeting on a private beach! It was very nice! We went on exchanges with the Elders there and I brought our district leader to our area! We went tracting in a Hispanic trailer park and found a very elect man! In his prayer at the end he thanked God for "sending [us] to knock on the door of [his] heart!" We tracted the majority of that day and we had both a Jehovah's Witness and a Seventh-day Adventist try to bash us! Too bad we don't bash. We only teach. If the Spirit is not there and their heart is not sincere, we aren't to be found! The following morning we saw some more gators and they were even bigger than before! We saw one gator that was 14 feet long! I got some packages that day and they were great, thanks to my sister and grandma! We visited Karen again and her dad was there too. We've been told that the missionaries have never gotten him to pray before in the three years he’s met with them! I was determined to make it happen. I invited him to offer it and after a little pushing, he did it!! Karen's mouth dropped wide open. None of us could believe that he was actually praying! Brothers and Sisters, miracles happen when we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his ability to prepare the hearts of the children of men. I testify that he does! After meeting with Karen, we visited our Congolese family and let them know about my departure. It was so difficult, I have come to love that family so deeply, it was so hard saying goodbye to them. They were champions though and stayed positive and even tried to encourage me to keep working hard! We visited Jonathan, one of our investigators, the following morning and set a baptismal date with him! Elder Brezenski was so good to me this week. Every second we had during lunch or dinner, I was busy packing so that we wouldn't have to take extra time to do it. He made me food for so many meals! He is such a great example of looking outward and serving others. We met with Jerry again and he said he will finally consider baptism as a possibility! He is seeking an answer from the Lord. We tracted the rest of the night after! I love tracting! Saturday morning we ran on the beach for exercises and it was nice! We went tracting for most of the day and enjoyed every second of it. We visited a part member family and had a great lesson with Brother Moore, the father. He is very open to the message and has a lot of great questions! He even came to church the next day! We visited the Recillas family, a Hispanic family, to say goodbye and we talked about enduring to the end. They are an amazing family! We then got transfer news and sent it all out to our missionaries. We are excited for the upcoming transfer, the zone will do great! Sunday was a marvelous day. We started it off by going to church and getting all the members enthusiastic and excited about missionary work! Sunday is game day to get the members on board! I said my goodbyes to the members and then we ate dinner with the Arne' family. They are amazing! Mama Arne made me some ties too as a going away gift! They are beautiful! We then visited our Congolese family one more time so I could say my final goodbyes and I shared my testimony with them in Swahili. We took a picture and then the Assistants pulled up in the van! We loaded up my stuff and then drove off to Raleigh! Haha after a few minutes of being in the van they initiated me in and the mantle was on! Once we got to Raleigh, we went to the mission office and did the weekly numbers for the mission! I signed my name on the Assistant board and then we drove home. We finally went to bed at 1 in the morning! It was a great week!! I am so happy to be able to be serving with President James! He is truly a man of God.