I'm glad the trip to Ohio went well, sorry you didn't have as much fun as you had hoped to on your cruise! Let me tell you what! Pdays are an inspired day for missionaries. Without a pday I don't think many missionaries would last long. It's been SO long since last pday and I feel like I've lost my mind! I forget words and stutter and mix letters up all the time! Man, I'm going crazy! :S But, the wait was well worth it so that we could go to the temple. I love the peace that can be felt there. It breaks my heart to meet those who have been there and have turned away from the Lord.
So, what has happened since I last emailed? We have tracted a lot. Sister Stokes and I taught this past week and we talked about personal mission plans. Thanks to Sister Akenson sharing her experience of wishing she had shared the gospel sooner the Spirit was strong and the branch received some awesome promises. it's up to them now to act. We are still looking for ideas of what more we can do to strengthen the branch. Sister Stokes and I came to the realization that we wouldn't be here in this area if no one was prepared. But we also realize that the Lord is not going to bring them in if the branch cannot retain their members. We can't even get active YSAs to stay in the branch! Why would a nonmember want to join? So, if you have any suggestions of what more we can do to strengthen the branch, they would be greatly appreciated. We are running out of ideas.
Yesterday morning I had gotten a little sick, so while Sister Stokes was eating lunch I laid down to take a nap. Well, the phone rang when I was almost asleep, so i answered it. It was a man who had wanted to know more about what we were sharing! I was excited but half asleep and he was acting weird and when I tried to get his address he wanted to just talk on the phone, so I asked him what questions he had. He asked "What are mormons?" I was confused at the broadness of the question (plus i wasn't completely awake) so I found Sister Stokes and told him to talk to her. Quickly he changed 'character' and started asking about polygamy and told us we weren't the "real" mormons if we didn't practice polygamy. He then wanted us to come over and "teach" him...except he really didn't want us to teach and he was very forward about that. Thankfully sister stokes handled it very well, offered to have the elders come over, he said no and finally gave up trying to convince us to come over and hung up. I was DISGUSTED. That was a rough start to the day. Our next appointment fell through and we went out tracting. Thankfully our appointment rescheduled for later though. We went back (this is one of the first lessons to go through since he was baptized) and we had our branch president with us. We worked through a lot of hold ups and it was very productive. We also got a referral!!!! Yay for YSAs!!! We will contact her today, hopefully. In all honesty it has been a tough 6 weeks. And until the branch starts becoming stronger and more unified, it could continue to be that way. We set a goal for our branch while we were teaching to have one baptism by the end of the month. I hope we can reach that goal. We have some AWESOME people in the branch who will really be the start of this growth. One sister just returned home from the Mesa Visitors Center mission (With Emily) and I had actually talked to her a couple times while I was in AZ! How awesome, right!? She is incredible. With her help and a few others in the branch we hope to see improvement!
We had visits last week, and they went really well :D We are going out again tonight and we hope to get in with several of those we have planned. Wow, what else is going on? We spend a lot of time trying to find new ideas to help the branch. We want to serve our branch presidency, but they don't let us, they just tell us to focus on the work. Good news, our branch president doesn't have to get his last few sets of chemo! He is in remission for an estimate of 6 months. We are hoping for longer. Him and his wife have the same type of cancer, but hers isn't treatable :( One of the other counselor's wife has cancer too. It's really hard on them, but they still work hard to serve.
We have 3 English Sisters coming in this next transfer! and we have two that are leaving. One of the 3 is my friend Stephanie's (from AZ) best friend, and my friend Matt's sister. I never met her but I heard lots of stories about her! i also go the news that Stephanie is filling out her mission papers!!!! That is SO exciting. It's the best experience ever! I am learning so much. Have you ever realized how amazing the bible is? Man, it's incredible! Acts is AWESOME and has a lot of scriptures talking about authority. One of my favorite thing to do with people who are set in their ways and refuse to change is talk about the plan of Salvation and how there is a Spirit World. They claim that the bible doesn't talk about it, but then we like to show them the scripture about Christ preaching to those in Prison who had lived at the time of Noah. Then they get confused and decide to go talk to their preacher. I don't know what good will come of it, but it's always good to question what you are taught. At the end of any conversation i love to invite people to think about what we have discussed and then pray about it. There are countless scriptures in the bible that tell us that God will answer our prayers. So, it's awesome. I love tracting. I love talking to people :D
So, Miranda. Do you know which apartment you will be in in Baranessa? My comp, sister Stokes will be there in the fall and living in Royal Crest which is right across the parking lot. I asked her to take care of you and to chase off any boys that want to marry you within the first semester ;) Sister Stokes is awesome and i do expect you both to meet each other. Her first name, for your future convenience, is Mary. She is such an awesome person!! I can't believe she goes home in 3 weeks :( I'm nervous! I'm a little nervous that I will train, but I know if i do, then the Lord knows what he is doing and i will just have to trust him. I feel comfortable in tracting and having member and less active lessons, but I've had little experience with investigators since I left Oakdale. And in Oakdale, Sister Sorensen did most of the teaching. AHH we want investigators soooooo bad! Even if they don't get baptized in June, we want to teach!!!!! It can be frustrating sometimes, because we are called to teach and baptize and we can't baptize if we don't have investigators. But, we are working hard to stay positive. All in the Lord's time!
Sorry, I'm so scattered. I really don't know what has all happened. We stay busy. We work hard. We have fun. We love what we do! Our district is awesome! Elder Flores is a convert and is an older missionary and he is so funny. His companion is 22 and he's pretty funny too. So anytime we are with the district we have fun. We have prayer with our district almost every night over the phone, and they are always entertaining phone calls. Our elders are such hard workers and i have a lot of respect for them!
Anyway, that's about all. Sorry I didn't mention the tornado, I just assumed you knew. We almost had another one, but closer this time. It would have actually been within our stake. One almost touched down in New Prague, but we had actually left the area to visit LA's who had recently moved out of the Stake but kept their records in our branch. So we missed that storm and the hail. It was nice and sunny when we received the text from the Zone leaders saying "everyone get inside and call us when you get there!" We were like, uhhhh why?. haha. But, we stay safe. We try to be smart about it. It was actually a cool story. Elder Flores and Dillard (the new prague elders) were actually teaching an important lesson trying to set a date when the sirens went off. They said they were praying in their hearts so hard, because they really wanted to set a date. And the tornado never came! Sweet. The Lord protects his faithful servants and assists them in His work. It's awesome. We have seen many miracles this past few weeks throughout the mission. We ended up with like 113 date sets for the month of June! How awesome!? The number ended up dropping to about 103, but still! We are still praying that we can reach 60 baptisms in June! I guess Hawaii had 102 baptisms last month!!! How awesome would that be if we could do that in every mission every month? It definitely requires the work of the members! The goal is to continually double baptisms :D It's an incredible work to be involved with.
Anyways, I've got to get on to emailing President. I'm not sure what I'll say to him either. But, that's ok. I love you all! :D have a great few days! I'll email again ! Stay strong and keep smiling!
Love ya lots!