Good morning y'all! I reckon this was another fantastic week! Last Monday we spent our preparation day painting with Sister James! She is quite the professional artist and she was kind enough to give us a painting class all day long! I had specially requested it so that I could paint my mom a picture for her birthday, and Sister James was sweet enough to paint one for my mom as well! After exhausting the extent of our creativity, we went out to work in the Lord's vineyard! We had an incredible visit with Mike and his son. Boy are they elect! They fed us some delicious deer chili with homemade cornbread and then we had a lesson.The Spirit was so very strong as we taught and testified of temples and the sealing power restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith so that our families may be eternal. My heart was full of absolute joy as we watched Mike fall in love with these restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is an honest seeker of truth. Tuesday morning in my personal study I read a talk from Elder Bednar that changed my whole way of thinking! He taught me that talking is not teaching. Teaching is observing and listening. I was reminded that we are not out here to teach lessons, but to teach people. And in order to do so, we must seek spiritual guidance and direction from our Heavenly Father only available after we do our part to listen and observe. We went on an exchange with the Tri-Lake zone leaders and Elder Barlow and I brought Elder Hawks up to Falls Lake. We had a wonderful time tracting, tracting, and tracting! I learned a lot from Elder Hawks and the way that he contacts on the doors! After tracting the day away, we had a quick active member lesson with the Bodily family. Elder Hawks grew up with them and has waited his whole mission to see them so it was definitely a blessing! We had a zone conference on Wednesday with the Wilmington zone and it was our best one yet. The Spirit we felt was remarkable. President James said that there has never been a better zone conference in history with better instructions than the ones that were given. I have my companions to thank for that compliment! They both gave powerful, spiritually awakening presentations. It was a blessing to be able to enter the holy Temple of the Lord with such a profound spirit as the one we felt within us. I so testify that the Temple is a holy and sacred place. It is the Lord's house. I count it one of the most heavenly privileges to enter its walls. I pray it is a gift we use often. After our meetings, we ate dinner with a man in need of a spiritual boost. Yet as we left his home, I felt he had blessed our lives much more than we had blessed his. I truly believe God puts us where we are in life to love and lift those around us, and yet I also believe God puts them in our lives so that likewise we may learn from them. That night, we visited Sahr and he expressed his deep desire to invite God more into his life. He then offered a very heartfelt prayer and we felt he will find what he is looking for in this message. Thursday was my angelic mother's birthday! Happy birthday Mom!! We spent the morning in the office so that we could reconfigure the entire number reporting system for the whole mission! We then drove down to Fayetteville to exchange with our zone leaders down there. On the way down, we stopped to get lunch at a restaurant called the Pik 'N' Pig. It was incredible! They have a landing strip there so that airplanes can land and grab some food on the go! Almost like a drive-thru for airplanes! I had an enjoyable time that day with Elder Johns as we worked in his area. We spent most of the time tracting and it was refreshing to feel of his zeal and great enthusiasm for the Lord's work. The following morning on the way back to Raleigh, we made a few quick food stops to give Elder Chiu some essential experiences. The first stop was at a bakery in Fayetteville that makes some of the best donuts around! The second stop was then at Sunni Skies, an ice cream shop that is very very famous. It has even been on TV! We did a little office work upon our return and then went to do my favorite thing, tracting! :) We found a lady that is the only Christian in her whole family. She is seeking to strengthen that faith in Christ and we know she will as she acts on the things we share. We had the opportunity to go to the temple again that night to go through with one of Elder Barlow's recent converts! What a tender experience for him to have been there and witness his convert draw even closer to the Lord. A dream for any missionary! Saturday was also very busy, we began with our weekly meeting with President. We discussed the coming transfer and then Sister James made an exquisite lunch! We were anxious to get back to work and as we did, we met a man the Elders used to work with. He has gone through quite a few trials in his life and we all felt he can benefit greatly from the gospel. We are excited to teach him again! We visited a few less actives and committed them to come to church the following day, which they did! Every one of them! The Lord is working miracles in this area, more than we deserve. We taught Anthony also and he is so anxious to be baptized. He again prayed that it will come soon and we made some plans to help them get divorced quickly! I love his level of faith and devotion! Sunday was a day full of miracles. Mike came to church again and loved it! He told us that when we come by this week, he wants to share some revelation he received. We hope he's received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true! We'll keep praying for him! Yuliya also came to church and wow has she come a long way. She is very excited to be baptized and although we had to postpone it a few weeks so that her family can fly in for it, she is looking forward to it and has it all planned out! Her and her member husband were talking about being sealed in the temple a year from now and it was so fun to watch! All of the members have done such a good job fellowshipping her and she so much support. President James has been praying for her, we have been praying for her, and I know that the Lord is blessing her. As we said goodbye and walked away from them, I was jumping and jumping with joy. Literally! I was then reminded that it was the Sabbath Day and I was in church so I toned it down a little, but it was difficult to contain my excitement! The joy and happiness I have felt on my mission, especially as I watch God's children progress in the gospel, have been something words cannot express. I love the Lord! I pray and plead daily that I may sacrifice more and more to align myself with His plan for me. I know that He will put us on the path that is best for us and for our salvation. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Spiritually awakening more and more each day,