Wow family - I really do love you. A whole lot. I hope you all know that.
And I hope you know that I also miss all the Missouri colors in the fall... we don't have that here in St. George. Quite the contrary actually, we have loads of palm trees and tumbleweeds and red dirt. It's really growing on me here!! You know that I'll never become a desert rat but I sure do enjoy warm weather. Speaking of warm weather it's disappeared and now it's FREEZING! It's 50 degrees outside!
This past week with all the Halloween parties and everything has been a jackpot for us missionaries. "Trunk-or-Treat" never sounded so sweet as it does when you're a missionary. Basically translates into "Find more investigators and contact more referrals in one hour than you would in a whole week." While covering 11 wards, that means we have a LOT of Halloween parties to go to! On Tuesday night we went to 3 in a row. I was really tempted to dress up as "Encarnacion" - the nun from Nacho. But that didn't quite work. A lot of kids thought we were actually normal civilians dressing up as missionaries.... Which means I probably look like a "teeny bopper" as dad calls them. No one thinks I look old enough to be an actual missionary! Maybe my 20th birthday this month will help me to age a little.
I love wearing a name tag because it gives us the perfect reason to go up to anyone and everyone and start up a conversation intertwined with the gospel. Most of all though, I love who's name is on our name tag.
Real quick: Our new senior couple serving with us at the Visitors' Center and other cites in town is George Durrant and his new wife, Susan Easton Black (now known as Elder and Sister Durrant). Both are accomplished authors and Sister Durrant was a professor at BYU for decades. They will be giving a series of lectures at the tabernacle each week on the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as Jesus Christ and Brigham Young in addition to the service at the sites. This morning we had an early morning meeting with them at the tabernacle. As Elder Durrant was speaking, he kept mentioning having "Christ's confidence." He told us as we are representatives of Jesus Christ, as baptized members of his church, we do EVERYTHING in his name. We don't just end prayers in his name, but we say "Hello!" in his name, we teach in his name, we serve others in HIS name. For me, it seems that as we have confidence in Christ, as we exercise our faith in him, our countenances and actions show that we have "Christ's confidence."
So as his name is on my name tag, as I point to his name and show children and parents, it constantly reminds me of who's name I am doing this work in and, most importantly, who is helping hasten the work right by my side. The talk "Act in All Diligence" by Henry B. Eyring helped me to understand how to remember our Savior in all that I do in the work.
And now it's almost the end of this transfer... we receive our transfer call this Saturday! Sister Calves, my lovely companion and friend forever, will be returning home to Bretagne, France as it is the end of her mission. Boy, we've had a great 6 weeks together. I've loved every day of it. At the very beginning of serving in Washington Fields together there wasn't a whole of people to teach. The work was a little slow. We were in need of some great miracles. So that first Sunday we fasted. We fasted to find those whose minds and hearts would be prepared to receive the message of the Restoration and who would have the desire to follow the example of Jesus Christ and enter the waters of baptism. As we fasted, I had the words of Alma 17 in my mind, when Alma and the sons of Mosiah reunite together:
"They had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."
"They fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the [people of Washington Fields], to the knowledge of the truth."
That Sunday we received two texts from investigators that they didn't want to meet with us anymore. A little unusual to get the texts back to back... But on the bright side they both said it very kindly! And instead of feeling devastated, Sister Calves and I felt excited (as odd as that might sound). We were excited because we knew that Heavenly Father was helping us reorganize our teaching pool, making us aware of those who were not ready to receive the blessings of baptism. So we knew there was something really GREAT in store - that there was someone who was ready to receive these blessings!
Sure enough, we got a call a few hours later from one of our Ward Mission Leaders telling us that there was a 13 yr old boy named Jake who moved in that had already been attending church for 2 years and already had all the missionary discussions in the past and he was tired of waiting to be baptized and finally they were just ready to do it! Imagine that! So we went straight over to their home, asked him to tell us the story of Joseph Smith, asked him to tell us why he wanted to be baptized, and then set a date for baptism. It was a literal miracle. I have never seen a 13 yr old boy more ready to follow the example of Jesus Christ. There were about 40 people at Jake's baptism - the spirit was so strong. And especially strong in his confirmation in sacrament meeting in the Sunday after. My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was filled to the brim with love for our Savior and the many marvelous ways Heavenly Father accomplishes His work through His children.
We have also met another who is prepared for baptism! His name is Vincent Lynch. His story is an amazing one. I will have to email you about him next week.
It is amazing the ways that I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life this transfer. I could go on for days listing the ways he has helped our investigators, my family, and myself.
I glory in being in his service and wearing his name every single day.
"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30
With Much Love,