Hello my beloved brothers and sisters,
Yesterday was indeed Labor Day and the library was closed. We get to come today and report home before we go out and work. Labor day was fun; it was our Zone P-day. We continue to be the only sisters in the whole zone but the Elders are great. I've been asking to play soccer forever now and they made plans for us all to go play on a soccer complex. It brought back such wonderful memories. Sister T was my cheerleader as she doesn't prefer soccer, but she's a great one at that! One of our zone leaders goes home on Friday as it's transfers again. It's really sad to see any missionary leave because as a district and as a zone you work together to accomplish a common goal. In this case bringing others to Christ. We all made our transfer predictions... President Keyes told us that they are going to start keeping missionaries in areas longer. Being in an area 6 to 8 months will be normal. So, I predict that I'm staying in Odessa, but we'll see. We find out tonight. We'll be anticipating that dreaded phone call all day!
We are planning on going to the VC with one of our investigators on Wednesday and I'm so excited! I called to make the reservation and got to talk to one of the sisters that I have just fallen in love with! She's so great! She also told me she's training next transfer! They had called several missionaries for a special meeting last Saturday because this new program, that is supposed to be world-wide, for training is being implemented. She got called. We have 18 new elders and 1-2 new sisters coming in tomorrow!! Crazy! And Next transfer there are 12 elders and 3ish sisters! It's crazy awesome getting all these new missionaries. This mission is huge... we need lots of missionaries to help the work progress. That's something I'm deepening my testimony in. We really are all in this together. This journey called life is something we just can't do alone. I love that. I love that every teaching of the gospel affects everything in our lives, no matter how meaningful or meaningless it seems. That's the beauty of it.
On Sunday, It was fast and testimony meeting... my favorite! We brought two less-active sisters with us and they really enjoyed it. They remembered negative feelings about going to church, but as the meetings went on, they were able to feel of the sweet spirit at church. A challenge had been issued to the deacon's quorum to bear their testimonies, and as soon as the conductor sat down, floods of young men and women went up to the podium to await their turn. I was so touched by their example. They arose to the challenge, and their testimonies were beautiful, sincere, and inspiring. Plus, 3 young men were found worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Amazing. Our dinner appointment that day was with the RS president and I just LOVE her and her family. Her husband steals babies all the time and is probably the biggest family man I've met out here. Her kids are so strong and respectful. One of her daughters, who's 9, is one of my favorite people ever! She wears dresses to church... with basketball shorts underneath and as soon as the bell rings for church to let out, off come her shoes! She's the funniest little thing. We were teaching our lesson and she snuggled right up to me as I was teaching. Little things like that make the biggest difference in people's lives. As we were driving home from our appointment, the sun was setting and the whole westward part of the sky was a deep orange blending into a dark purple. As we drove by we saw the silhouettes of the corn stalks against the orange sky. I looked ahead and streams of gratitude filled my mind. I thought of the day I just had. I thought about the examples in the ward and in the mission. I thought about my life, the things I've been blessed with; talents, gifts, friends, and family back home. I thought of the life the Lord has given me and of the love he shows me each and every day. The spirit testified of the love and I couldn't help but close my eyes, breathe deep, and exhale looking towards the heavens, expressing my deep, sincere gratitude for all I have been given. Most of all, for the knowledge of my Savior, his gospel, and my Heavenly Father's love. That's why there are so many young men and women serving the Lord now, in the past, and to come. They have felt the Spirit of God.
Last Friday was our district meeting. I want to share an experience to how fun it is to work and learn from one another! Our district meeting is small. Us, Concordia Elders, the district leader and his companion, and the Zone Leaders. We split up to practice or role play "We invite, they commit, we follow-up". I played the investigator. They committed me to read 3 Nephi 11. Awesome. We brake and come together again and one of the elders asked if I had read. Pretending to be an investigator, I said something along the lines of, "Ya know, I was going to read it but I got a call from an old friend that I haven't heard from forever! I ended up talking to her and just falling asleep". The Elders are silent for a moment. Then the one that asked me has this almost disgusted look on his face (granted he's tying to be sincere) and he says, "Really? A friend called?!" It was so funny. Oh my goodness, we were laughing all the way through the closing prayer. As a missionary I understood what he was trying to do... be devastated with someone doesn't read the Book of Mormon, but as an investigator I almost took it as offensive. Of course I have friends! Was he implying that I didn't? You might have had to of been there. All the same... I love the missionaries I serve with. They are my extended family. I love my companion. At dinner last night, the brother asked her how she likes it here in America. She said "I feel like I'm home". As her trainer and companion I can't even begin to express how much that meant to me. I'm so glad she's been feeling better about being here, considering she has little support from home, if any. She's so strong. Hey friends and family... write a letter to Sister Tafradzhieva and send it to the mission address. It would make her week!
The work has been good. We are working hard. I'm exhausted all the time. I'm being stretched and pulled, shaped and molded, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This gospel is true. Applying the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives personally brings blessings we didn't even know we were missing or yearning for. I'm grateful for the people that brought the gospel into my life, and for all those who continue to inspire me. Thank you all for our example to me and those around you. You touch the lives of so many each and every day whether you see or or not. This is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know he loves us. I know Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet of this final dispensation. I know the ordinances and covenants of baptism, confirmation, and the sacrament bring us joy and prepare us to enter the temple to where we receive even more blessings. The gospel is here for us, not against us.
When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Life becomes simple and meaningful. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?