Thursday, May 26, 2011

I am happy.


It's been a crazy week. But it's been good. The tornado scares have been something different to get used to. We are finding a few more investigators than usual which is great! I love when we have people to teach. I'll tell you this one story. Sister Stoker and I were going to go visit a LA (less active member) in our area Sunday before church. We get up to the apartment and she wasn't feeling well. As we went back outside, we started talking to these older ladies. One was gardening, one was smoking. Nice ladies. We were able to make them laugh and set a few things straight about what they had heard about Mormons. We invited them both to the VC and left our number. Sunday night after planning, we got a phone call and it was her; the lady we had just talked to that morning who was gardening. She went on to tell us how she really needs a church and even got emotional to us on the phone. We met with her on Monday and she enjoyed the things we read from the Book of Mormon and the God's Plan for His Family tour. We will be seeing her tomorrow. We're really looking forward to helping her build her relationship with Christ again. The journey these people take and being able to witness it is the best part of being a missionary I think. There was another lady who we found by trying to contact a former investigator. Once we got to the house, we found out our former had moved and this lady and her three daughters lived there. That was when Sister Browning was here. Now, we have visited her a couple times, but just this last week she invited us inside and wants to learn more. She's able to trust us now and she is just an awesome lady. We're going to see her tomorrow, too. It's pretty awesome how we receive referrals and visit formers, and find new people who are interested in learning about the gospel. Last Saturday, the Joplin Missouri Stake Institute came all the way up to Independence to see the VC and the jail. I think they were headed to the rest of the historic sites, too. I just fell in love with them. They asked if they could get a picture with me. I made lots of new friends. Then, I heard the tornado, the worst tornado in the history of the US in over several years, hit Joplin. The city was totalled and there were about 124 fatalities when I heard the news. My heart just broke into pieces; it was wrenched. My prayers were answered yesterday night. I found a note on the front desk saying "The Joplin Institute class called to thank us for the wonderful tour, and to say that they are ALL okay". Oh, how great was my joy when I read that. God truly protects His people and answers our prayers.

But yes. Tornado scares. Tuesday we were on shift at the VC and the clouds started getting dark, moving really quickly, and then they started to turn green. That's a bad thing. I attached a picture. That's Sister Loo and her facial expression about what she thinks about this whole situation. If you look carefully you can see the green just over the building in the picture. Also, the sky started to split. There was a distinct line in the clouds and that's really bad, too. No siren or anything though. I ended up going on a tour and when we came back it was just raining. Then... yesterday... we were out tracting and suddenly we heard something loud in the distance. We couldn't tell if it was a siren or not. I then remembered that they test the siren every Wednesday morning. It was Wednesday morning. I figured we were okay. We knocked on this lady's door and she opened it, said she wasn't interested, but told us to take care of ourselves with the siren going off. I asked, "isn't that just the test siren? It's Wednesday morning". She went on to shake her head and said if we didn't have a place to stay we could come inside. Teaching opportunity...? Ha! We ended up going back to the VC as we were supposed to have an apointment there in 30 minutes anyway. The siren went on for a couple hours Wednesday morning/afternoon. The Browns, the senior couple on shift, plugged in the radio and we started listening to the warnings. The VC director called and asked if the Browns were keeping the sisters safe. This was the real deal. We had a few tours in the building, too. We gathered everyone downstairs in the theater room (which is against a hill below ground. Safe place) and started singing hymns. There was some fear in the room. There were about 7 sisters up front leading the hymns with a couple young families and a couple senior couples who were visiting. Side note: a senior couple, the Cluffs, just finished their mission in Manchester, New Hampshire, and were on their way home to Beaverton, Oregon! Awesome! Anyway, as we started "I Believe in Christ", I started to feel fear settle in just a little bit. I glanced up and a young mom caught my eye. She had her two boys, around the age of 10, sitting on either side of her. The boys both wore caps with their faces towards the ground, making it difficult to see their expressions. You could see the young mother's face, though. There was worry and concern, fear and uneasiness as we had been told the tornado was about to hit Independence from the south as one had made contact with the ground. I was filled with emotion for this young mother. However, suddenly she leaned over to one of her boys, kissed the side of his face, and cuddled him, putting aside her fear to comfort her son. Her eyes were wet and yet, she was full of prayer and hope. She listened to the words we sang about Christ and she acted on it. All was doing was loving her boys, but the spirit was strong. It was there. The love that small family held was so dear and I found myself just staring at them half way through the song. My voice was quiet and I started listening to the words. I could feel the Spirit around me. I could feel Christ in my life as I desirest to understand the words which we sang. As we finsihed the song, the fear had vanished. A few minutes later, Elder Brown walks in and tells us the warning for Independence in gone. The tornado was gone. It never hit us.

I'm sending a few pictures home that aren't about the tornado. In the car, that is Sister Stoker and myself right before we headed back to the VC when the siren was going off. My hair is sporting the "curl it in the morning and go tracting in the rain" look. In one, I am holding a hole punch, a key, and Sister Kavea (from Australia) has her hand over her forehead. This morning before laundry, she got her key stuck in the door. it look us 45 minutes to find the hole punch, used them like pliers, and got the key out. I felt accomplished. Ha! Sister Kavea, by the way, is one of the newest sisters in the VC. She's assigned to the Single's Branch, but she's with us today because her trainer is at an all day conference. Then, a couple other cute pictures of us from this morning. Yes, I wear a lot of green and blue.

I am happy. This work is hard, but I am happy. I may or may not have wrote about this a few weeks ago, but an elder once shared an experience about a friend of his who at the beginning of his mission did whatever he wanted. That friend came to the realization one day and goes on to tell the story about the importance of this work and obedience. He said, "I had a lot of fun, but I wasn't happy." Even if I long for my bed every night and my body is falling apart, I am happy. I am coming to know my savior even better.

I had a little bit of revelation that I'd like to share before I close up. Sister Stoker and I were studying charity one morning. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and as Moroni says, charity never faileth (Moroni 7:46). We are to follow the example of Christ and become more charitable. Christ led the perfect example. He was charitable and succored everyone around him. Yet, he still got hurt. He opened his heart and gave everything, and he was still crucified by his own people. We need to expect to get hurt a little bit every now and then. If we don't open our heart, we don't receive anything. That's what life is about. To experience the fulness of joy, we must live life. Go experience life. Get your heart broken. Put yourself out there. Have some experience that shows you know Christ.

I love my Savior. He descended below them all in order to understand us. This is why the Atonement works. It's good to hurt a little bit. That way, you know what your Savior felt and come to know his better. Even though things get hard, we are happy because we have the Savior on our side. I testify to you that the Atonement is real. The Atonement works as we turn our hearts to the will of God's. This church isn't just something to join. This church is a way of life. An eternal family. A piece of our soul.

The Son of God descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?


Shall we not go on in so great a cause?

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