This week really was full of just cool experiences.
The first happened while we were out to lunch with a couple of members. First, let me back up. They wanted to take us to this restaurant.. but I had a few reliable sources that the restaurant wasn't very good.. so I was sorta trying to get us to go somewhere else.. and I it was so weird because we would plan somewhere else and then for the most random reasons we would have to switch back to the bad restaurant. After like 3 days I just gave up and accepted defeat haha. So we go to lunch, my sources were correct just so you know haha, and I had a salad. They gave me the smallest thing of dressing so I went to get more and the girl working was trying to make me pay for more.. ( i promise this is relevant to the story I am not just rambling for nothing) and this guy worker who was on his lunch break came and said I could have it for free. So I went back, ate the rest of my lunch, and the member started telling us all about how she is vegan and loves yoga. Anyways fast forward.. we leave the restaurant.. and we are about to our car when I realize that I didn't give the girl working a pass along card. And I have gotten pretty good at giving those things out so I was a bit ashamed of myself, but I thought it would be weird to go all the way back in. But something nagged me and I figured why not, so I made us go back to give her a card. Well we get in there and she was busy.. so we are awkwardly standing there... when the guy worker, named Cody, came up to us. He immediately started asking questions about the church, and what we believe, and asked about "emerald tablets"... yeahhhh.... he meant the gold plates.. but close enough, right? So we talk to Him, explain The Book of Mormon, and he immediately asks "Where can I get a transcript of what was on the gold plates". We ran and brought him a Book of Mormon and he was really excited. Then he said "Can I tell you what has happened today. So I was sitting eating lunch, when I noticed they were trying to make you pay for more salad dressing. I thought to myself 'a friend of Jesus is a friend of mine' so I didn't want you to pay. Then I overheard your friend talking about yoga.. and that is something that means a lot to me spiritually. It is really interesting how God is working today." Uh... craziest thing EVER. He totally felt the Spirit and is going to read The Book of Mormon. It was one of the coolest experiences ever that really showed God was in the little details. We had to go to the gross restaurant to find Cody. I had to go back in, not to give the girl a card, but to help Cody learn about The Book of Mormon. God is totally 100 percent in missionary work and man it was just awesome to know He used me to find Cody.
Cool experience number two was with Tina. So we hadn't been able to see Tina forever because I was sick, she was sick, then she had surgery.. and so it had been 17 trillion years. But the last time we met with her she decided that she wanted to start at the very beginning.. with figuring out "Who is God".. so she committed to study and try to understand. So we go over... and she had been studying! She had note cards of thoughts and notes and scriptures.. and she had a list of things she wants to work on, in order of importance. She even said at the beginning of the lesson "let's get started quick so I can get as much out of this session as I can." And she was telling us all she has learned about God and about how we need to have faith in Him, even when everything goes wrong in our lives. And I wish that I could describe to you the chance that has happened with her since we last saw her. Every time I have seen her she has been so negative, angry, impatient, (a lot has to do with the horrible things that have happened to her.. which they are really bad.) and she was always really angry towards God and thought that He hated her. And then on Saturday she was hopeful, happier, so much more patient with her kids and just totally a completely different person. It still blows my mind. I have never in my life seen someone change so much. And it just came from her studying and gaining a better understand of God. She said "I really feel like I know who He is now. And I feel like He is there for me. And I can already tell the biggest difference in my life. I can tell I am becoming a better person."
THE GOSPEL CAN LITERALLY CHANGE PEOPLE in the most incredible way. I just feel like so lucky that God let me see how far she has come before I went home. It is amazing because I literally did nothing. Tina did the work, and God blessed her. And I am excited to hear about the progress she continues to make. It just makes me so happy because I know that her live, and her children's lives are going to be so much better because of what she is doing.
Also, nicest thing ever, Jerry had us over for dinner this week! I am amazed at everything he is able to do without arms. It is pretty inspiring. He made us roast and vegetables and he was so proud. It was sweet. And then we had an incredible lesson. Let me back up for a second.. so the other day I had a prompting that we should talk about Patriarchal blessings with him but we hadn't done it yet... and after dinner he said "I read my patriarchal blessing for the first time since I got it. And I have never felt the spirit so strong. I could see the things it said coming true, especially since I have been reading the scriptures." and he went on to say that he is going to work towards getting the Melchizedek priesthood, and that on fast Sunday he is going to get up to share his testimony of all he has been learning. And it literally made me so happy. To see Jerry start out with no confidence, not even able to read any scriptures, to reading 5 chapters a day and working towards the priesthood! Another huge miracle showing how people can change. The Gospel really is so incredibly powerful.
Saturday was one of the best days ever. ALL OF OUR APPOINTMENTS WORKED.. I think that might be the first time of my mission! We had the awesome lesson with Tina.. which went over so we were late to lunch at The Grimms.. and Sister Grimm left a voice mail in her German accent saying "you said you would be here 12:30.. It is 12:45 and food is ready and you are not." Cracked me up. And she made a delicious German meal complete with schnitzel. And the best part was Sister Grimm literally out of nowhere pulled out a harmonica from her pocket.. and started playing the song "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" for me. It was so funny.. who even knew she could play the harmonica? But man saying goodbye to them.. not fun. Dieter gave me a huge hug (I know I am not allowed to hug guys on my mission but he hugged me before I could do anything about it haha) and said they really love me and will miss me. I have never seen him get emotional like that! And Sister Grimm was crying and said "Will you write my grandson so you will have a reason to come back and visit us?" So funny. I just love them. I have met the coolest people on my mission. It is like so priceless.
THEN Danee passed her baptismal interview! (She is the awesome 17 year old) and she will be getting baptized the beginning of February! I am so excited for her. She has been one of the best/coolest/inspirational people I have taught.
We had a super cool tour the other day at the Visitors' Center too! So it started with 3 members.. and then a lady and her 24 yaer old daughter joined the group, and they weren't members. So we started on the tour, and they had the coolest, deepest questions.. and it was awesome because the two teenage kids who were members were answering the questions! It was cool to see how they softened up. I felt the Spirit so strong while I was sharing my experience with The Book of Mormon, and by the end they gave us their number to call them and they just kept saying how much they loved it. It doesn't sound that awesome but I am having a hard time explaining it.. but it was one of the best tours I have taken on my mission. It was just cool to see how powerful the Spirit is and how it can soften people.
Overall, just a super good week. Just a super good mission. Scratch that, the BEST MISSION. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the experience I have had. It has changed me so much. I have met the most incredible people whose friendships I will cherish forever. I will never stop thanking Heavenly Father for sending me to Ohio, and for letting me witness the power of Jesus Christ's Atonement, in my life as well as others. I can honestly say that I know this truly is Jesus Christ's church restored to the earth. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that God loves each and every one of His children. I experienced Him reaching out to them through me, and I was able to constantly feel of His love. I have witnessed miracle after miracle, testifying to me that I truly have been engaged in God's work. I feel blessed to be an instrument in His hands to help His children.
I know that Jesus Christ lives and that we can each be forgiven. I know people can change. I know that people can become happy, regardless of their circumstances, if they rely on Christ. I know that true and lasting happiness is only found by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that The Book of Mormon is not only true, but that it can and will change everyone who actually reads it. It has changed me forever and I will never, ever, stop being grateful for that book. And I truly know that families are forever.. and I couldn't be more excited to be with my family again!
I have loved my mission. I feel so much peace and happiness knowing that I served the Lord. I was definitely not a perfect missionary, and things never went perfectly, but I have had the greatest experience I could ever dream of. I have learned so much, I have grown so much, I have a relationship with the Savior that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
I am so grateful for all of the prayers, letters, emails and just all of the support and love I have received. I feel so blessed! I have truly never felt this happy!
I LOVE YOU ALL! And I will SEE YOU THIS WEEK!