February 3, 2014
This past week has been such a crazy, busy week but I loved it! At the beginning of the week we had zone training and all received iPad Minis to help us with our missionary work. Crazy right? It's been so nice though!! I miss the paper planners.... but I'll get use to it. Literally EVERYTHING is to be used on our iPads to help us with our work. Honestly, my eyes are just not use to staring at a screen....haha…I've had major headaches all week from looking at the iPad screens.... kind’ve pathetic, I know... but it will be great once I'm use to it again! Just a sign of how different missionary life really is. It's pretty cool to say that half of my mission was like the "old missionary era" and the other half will be like the "new missionary era"! We have been able to see so many miracles and blessings from being able to use them already this week though.
With all of the new things that have happened with technology within the last week or two ... I feel like we literally have no time for anything. On top of our normal daily studies, planning, teaching and finding, we are now suppose to do one hour of training, one hour of Facebook, and one hour of updating the area book onto our iPads everyday...Pus, we are suppose to go to our church building to get on Facebook and that is a 30-minute drive one way... ah! Seriously! There is just not enough time in the day! Haha! I have had a really neat miracle happen on Facebook though. I've been talking back and forth quite a bit with a man that is close friends with the Ketchersid family in Winter Garden. Anyway, we planned to talk on the phone about some things in more detail and oh my goodness! he is just so prepared and ready! I got permission from President and we are planning on having a lesson over Skype this week... it's going to be SO WEIRD. but I'm excited to give it a shot and help out this man. He is so ready and willing to learn!
Friday morning, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. and drove into Orlando to do an endowment session at the temple!!! It was the first time that I have been to the temple in 8 months... it was sooo neat to be able to go again! The temple really has such a sweet spirit. It was neat to be there with the other missionaries from our zone as well as President and Sister Berry. It was great to see the new and improved session!!!! I definitely cried. I learned so much. I got to sit next to Sister Bracken on my left and Sister Hoyt on my right. It was great to be reunited with some of my companions :)
Just a rerun on what happened with Crystal two Sundays ago: Crystal and Brother Dayton (young men's president) called us and said that Crystal wanted to take the missionary lessons over again! She had been “anti”-ed really hard last spring by her dad when he found out she was getting baptized. She and Brother Dayton struggled pretty hard with all the trials that came and she stopped taking the lessons. Two weekends ago when Elder Nelson came and spoke at a Regional Conference, Crystal had a lot of questions answered and decided she wanted to take the lessons again... so that's when they called us! Two days later- this past Tuesday- we went over for our second lesson. The first thing she said when she sat down was that she wanted to be baptized... on February 9th!!! haha! (On dad's birthday! and two weeks away at that time!) Because she has had all the lessons before (either from missionaries or Brother Dayton) she already knows everything through and through. She is so strong for being “anti”-ed and still wants to follow God's will. She is such an inspiration!
Yesterday and last night were very powerful. We fasted for Crystal yesterday because of her plans to call and tell her parents about the baptism last night. Yesterday, Fast and Testimony meeting was great and to make it even better, Crystal and Brother Dayton both bore their testimonies. Crystal went first and just said that it's been a long and rough journey but that she has trusted in God to lead her wherever He wanted her. She then said, "…and He led me here!... that's why I'm here! I know... I KNOW this is true!" It was so powerful! Then Brother Dayton got up and was so overcome with emotion that he stood at the pulpit for quite a few minutes trying to compose himself. He said through tears, "If you are looking for beauty in life... ask God and He will give it to you." He truly has created miracles for them and I'm soo happy for them!! Last night we went over to Crystal’s after she had finished telling her mom over the phone. She said that the conversation ended in peace but that her mom said she had a headache and that her stomach hurt. Crystal was still waiting to call her dad later that night after he got off work. She was super nervous about it. We said a prayer with her and I told her that the first thing that came to my mind when we were trying to decide what would help her was the story of Esther. There is a very powerful Mormon Message on Esther called 'Courage' (look it up!! on lds.org!!) that we watched with her. The spirit was very strong and Crystal bawled through it. She said that it couldn't have been any more perfect for her at that time. I told her that just like Esther, she was putting almost everything at risk because she didn't know what the reaction would be of her family, just like Esther didn't know what the reaction would be of the king... but that Esther found strength and courage in the Lord to follow and do what she knew was right. She found so much comfort from that and she said that she had felt a kinship and sisterhood with Esther. Brother Dayton then bore a powerful testimony and we all could feel the spirit so strongly.
Lessons like those just blow my mind because I can see how God truly is using me as an instrument in His hands to help these people. It also reminds me of a part of my patriarchal blessings that says that I will be able to discern the needs of others and lift them up to greater heights. I really felt and saw that last night as I pondered and planned the direction I received while planning out a lesson for her. There have been several times as I plan out a lesson or even while I'm teaching a lesson that an idea or thought will come to mind and I feel a little jolt of energy or excitement go through me as I realize and get a confirmation with how perfect that idea or thought is for the people we are working with. It strengthens my testimony so much in knowing that I truly have been set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ to do His work the way He needs it to be done, at the same time He testifies and reaffirms to me that I truly am worthy of the spirit and of that divine help. What a blessing it is to know that I have been given the authority of God to preach the gospel with the power of the spirit and to teach the hearts of many as we bring them closer to Jesus Christ! I truly am so grateful to be serving a mission. I have seen so many miracles and blessings as I have witnessed people find truth and the joy that comes. My testimony and my love for these people deepens but more importantly my love and understanding of God and Jesus Christ become so much richer. I know this work is the Lord's work and as what Mormon states in 3 Nephi 5:13, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life."
Please keep Crystal and her family in your prayers this next week as we plan for her baptism. Brother Dayton's family is flying in from Utah on Saturday and they are hoping that Crystal's family will stay for her confirmation at church, so we are having the baptism Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m... woo! I'm very excited for them and so happy to see the Lord truly hastening His work. I love you, I love the Lord, I love this work.... and I love being a missionary!!!!