Wow! It's been an awesome week!
So full of miracles and wonderful experiences! I'll just kinda go day by day again.
Monday: I found a new dress and shoes for $25 total (the shoes were $3) to wear to our big meeting on Friday. SCORE. More importantly, we had a lesson with a less-active family -CH and DE. They are currently taking care of 2 foster children (bad situation) who have never learned or heard anything about Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, or religion in general. CH and DE are less-active, but have been trying valiantly to teach the kids (ages 7 and 5) about the gospel. They have been reading the illustrated Book of Mormon stories every night, and making an effort to come to church. Some of their family members suggested we visit with them, so we have been. Anyway, we taught the Plan of Salvation using some fun little cut-outs. After we discussed in, we challenged the kids to teach it back to us by putting the cards in order. Much to our amazement, they were able to do it! Oh I was so happy! And so were CH and DE! It was awesome.
Tuesday: We went to a gas station here in town and contacted for about 2 hours. Between us and the Elders, we were able to get around 70 contacts!! That was definitely a MIRACLE. Here in Gilmer, 10 contacts a day is usually a miracle, so getting 37 for Sister Parkinson and I was beyond awesome.
Wednesday: Good lessons all around. And a wonderful time at the food pantry again. For dinner we ate with some members - the husband has been a life-long member, and the wife is a convert of about 5 years. They have 3 kids, who are all sealed to them now. It was so wonderful to hear her conversion story and SEE how the gospel has blessed their little family so much, for time and truly for eternity. We also visited with the JO family. They are still having a hard time recovering from their accident back in August, but they do recognize that they are healing, and that they are in a good place because they have turned to the Lord. We had an awesome discussion about the Holy Ghost and how he is our comforter and teacher. My favorite quote from the night, said by Sister JO: "Feed your faith and your fear will starve." Oh how I loved that. The JO family is so full of faith and love and hope. They are amazing.
Thursday: nothing to extraordinary in the morning, but around 3:30, Sister Parkinson and I hopped in the car and drove to Dallas! We went to a delicious Italian restaurant called Campisi's for dinner, and stayed with the Dallas Sister Training Leaders, Sister Griffin (who I served around in Allen) and Sister Aumua (my trainer)! Oh it was fun!
Friday: My birthday, first of all. Needless to say, it was literally the best birthday ever. I was beyond blessed to have an incredible birthday! We got to the church around 7:30 and finished reading the Book of Mormon! What an incredible 36 ish days it was to read it all together as a mission! Then all the missionaries lined up, and they led us into the gym to take mission pictures with Elder Nelson and Elder Robbins. Oh, it was so cool. I was standing right behind Elder Nelson. I could've patted his head if I had wanted to. Haha. Then we each had the opportunity to shake their hands. When I looked into Elder Nelson's eyes, I was so overwhelmed by emotion and love. I could just tell that he is a prophet of the Lord. Then it was time for the meeting. Sister Taylor and President each spoke briefly. At the start of President's talk, he started reciting The Living Christ and invited us all to join in with him. So, we were able to recite The Living Christ, Testimony of the Apostles, to a living apostle, one of the writers, Elder Russel M. Nelson. Oh, it was incredible.
Elder Robbins spoke about Moroni 10:32 and how we don't have to be perfect to come to Christ. It's through Christ that we are perfected. He spoke about Grace, and how it helps us every step along our journey. We don't have to wait until the end (or perfection) to be able to be strengthened and enabled by grace. He said that the ordinance of endurance is the Sacrament. Loved it. He quoted Winston Churchill who said, " Our success in life is going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm." The Lord lets us try again over and over and over.
The Elder Nelson got up. Oh, I had chills and was fangirling on the inside a little bit. But it was great. Tying into Elder Robbins' talk, he said that the word enthusiasm has a really cool meaning. En-means within. Theo or thu- means God. So enthusiasm literally means the Spirit or Power of God within us. He spoke about the Abrahamic covenant and I was able to understand it a lot better. We are truly here to assist in the gathering of Israel to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I honestly couldn't take notes fast enough. Then he talked about Doctrine and Covenants section 31- the section that my stake President back home talked about to me before I was set apart. I loved it. D&C 31:6 "Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them" He told us that we are doing more for our current and future families by serving then by being at home. I loved it! Then he said, "I observe this about you - (quoting D&C 138:53-56)
53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
54 Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.
55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men."
He then gave us an apostolic blessing and promise. Then we sang Hark All Ye Nations and that was that. We stood, he left, and I felt my heart tug a little bit as he left. The Spirit definitely confirmed the divinity of his calling to me. After he had left, the missionaries all just stood in silence, in awe of the great blessing we had.
Oh it was wonderful.
Then Sister Parkinson and I went to lunch at Olive Garden, and finished up our Dallas adventure by doing a session at the Dallas Temple. It was a perfect day.
It was a good week! I found out this morning that I'm leaving Gilmer! I'm so sad to go, but I'm excited to see what adventures are in store for me.
I just want to close with my testimony of the Savior. I know that He lives! I know that He loves me! I love Jesus Christ dearly, with my whole heart. I can feel my desires and intentions changing because of my love for Him. How grateful I am for the Atonement - the purifying power and the enable power!
I love y'all!