Hello dear ones :)
Well, I have been feeling pretty discouraged these past couple of days, and then I logged onto my email and read so many encouraging words from so many of you - things that were just perfect and exactly what I needed to hear! So thank you so much for being an answer to my prayers :)
Sister Barker and I actually had a really good week, we've been happy and working hard and found a ton of new investigators, but it's just been so hard because we do everything we can all week to help people come to church and progress, and then Elder Holland's talk from last General Conference (it's actually not the one entitled "The Joyful Burden of Discipleship," but I liked that title better haha), and I felt like he understood exactly what I was feeling: comes along and no one shows up and it feels like the whole week was for nothing, and it's hard to start up again and keep trying! And then last night I found out that one of our sweet Lamoni converts has been struggling a lot and told the sisters that he's not ready to go back to church right now, and that was so hard to hear and made it even harder to keep having hope that things will work out! But then this morning I was looking at
So here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on(that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). They know full well that the road leading to the promised land “flowing with milk and honey” ofnecessity runs by way of Mount Sinai...
But, he of course always keeps the hope!
Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, butdefend them....thepath of Christian discipleship....is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.
I guess the point of all that is that is to say that yes, it is hard! But it is also worth it, and we must always have hope - and that hope can only come through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for that :)
Elder Holland's full length talk
Anyways, I'll actually tell you about my week now :)
: Sister Barker and I went downtown and took pictures :) In the evening, we had an awesome lesson! We showed "Finding Faith in Christ" and they loved it, and we got two new investigators. And we set baptismal dates with all five of them for !
"Finding Faith in Christ" video
: We had a crazy lesson with this man and his wife. He was pretty arrogant and seemed to just want to prove us wrong, even though he kept saying that he wants to learn and have us come back to discuss more. We invited them to be baptized and set up a return appointment, so technically they're new investigators, but if he's still just kind of argumentative at our next lesson, we'll drop them. I have definitely learned that people need to be humble in order to actually learn! Oh but it was kind of funny because at the end of the lesson he handed us some pens that were in his pocket, which had his name and number on them and we realized that he's totally a pastor of some sort haha! We also helped another lady around her house some more and had a good lesson with her, as well as with a less-active family and a sweet family we ate dinner with.
: Had exchanges with the Winterset sisters; Sister Barker went to Winterset with Sis Howard, and I stayed in Des Moines with Sis Stapley. It was interesting. But, I had a great time with Sis Stapley and we had a really good day! We taught a new investigator, whom we found on our last exchange with the Lamoni sisters (Sis Froerer and I were driving and saw this lady outside with some kids, and decided to pull over to talk to them. We did, and she was freaking out because there was a bee inside her house, so we went in and killed it for her haha! Then she said she's been looking for a church!). We had a member there, and she said she wants to get baptized! She cancelled our last appointment though so hopefully she doesn't fall off...
We also found another investigator, a teenage girl we talked to while knocking some doors. She was super sweet! And we had good lessons with another investigator, a couple of less-actives, and a member family we ate dinner with. :)
: was kind of a hard day, but we made it through haha - sometimes it feels like when we go on exchanges, Heavenly Father qualifies us and gives us extra super-powers or a cape or something, and then we finish the exchange and we're exhausted and have to readjust to working together in our area again! It was good though, and we were still able to teach some good lessons and make progress with people (hopefully).
: We were excited to have a good, solid weekly planning session in the morning because we've been so busy that we haven't had a good one in a while...but then Sis Barker got super sick out of no where! It was so weird...we were having companionship study and she started to feel dizzy, but was doing OK and pushing through. But it seriously just hit her like a ton of bricks and I could see her body just shutting down, so after a while I was like, "I'm going to write this list we have to make for the Relief Society really quick, so you can rest while I do that" and then she was out for a couple hours. There was no way I was going to wake her up - I knew that if she was out like that, she was definitely sick! We were really blessed though and she was still able to make it to our appointments that afternoon/evening. And we had a really fun dinner at the Burgess' house - I seriously love that family so much!
: We helped the W family paint their kitchen - they are the couple that we taught a while ago who attend the Unitarian Church. I think it was good to help them and build that relationship though - the dad, seemed really grateful and a little more open to the truths that we have! Later we taught another investigator, and a member came with us. Then she came with us to the women's broadcast! So that was sweet. Though, it was also frustrating because there were tons of problems with the technology at the stake center, so it didn't even start working until halfway into the first talk, and a lot of the broadcast was out of sync, so it was kind of distracting. But at least it worked for President Uchtdorf's talk, which was wonderful! I'm excited to watch/read it again.
: was a hard day haha. One of the ladies we have been meeting with didn't come to church, even though she had promised she would - she just doesn't have a testimony of the Sabbath day yet and lets other things get in the way. So we will probably have to push back her baptismal date a week, and pray that I don't get transferred :( An entire family was going to come, so we found rides for all of them, which was quite the feat...and then they cancelled last-minute because one of them was sick or something! And the reason why we had to find rides for them is because earlier in the week, one of their boyfriend hit her and then ran away with her car keys, credit card, phone, etc., and is now on the run in New York or something (what a way to lose an investigator!). It's been so sad and frustrating! and kind of stressful because she comes to us for help, and we can't help with financial things, which puts us in an awkward situation sometimes.
Sister Barker and I sang "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" in Sacrament Mtg., which was fun because this time we actually had someone (Sis Helton) playing the flute part, which is super pretty. I messed up one part with the harmony though and was kind of frustrated...but overall I felt the Spirit and it was fun.
"My Shepherd Will Supply My Need"
We left after Sacrament Meeting and rode with the Peterson's (the cute Spanish senior couple) to Keokuk for a couple of baptisms of people Sis Barker taught. First was a baptism for the sweetest old man who was SO happy to be getting baptized - he's been struggling with smoking for a long time but finally has been smoke-free for over a month! Honestly it was probably one of the sweetest baptisms I've been to. Then there was another service for the Herrera family, which was awesome. Sis Barker and I taught the Restoration while they were getting changed, and I really felt the Spirit and felt a lot of love for this family I had just barely met, which was really cool - and a tender mercy because I was really trying to not be jealous of all the success others were seeing or get discouraged at the lack of progress we've been feeling in Des Moines. Feeling that love for them helped me to feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for all of us, including for me, which is what I needed :) It was fun to go and be there, and to see Sis Browne who's serving in Keokuk, as well as Sis Monroe who's serving in nearby Hamilton (we served together in Dubuque and were in the MTC together).
Oh we also fasted about Moroni's promise and to know how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively/powerfully in our teaching. It was really sweet this week studying exclusively from the Book of Mormon during our personal studies and having that fast together as a mission. I love the Book of Mormon so much and know that it is true!!!
Thanks again for all your love and support! It means so much. We sang "Called to Serve" in Sacrament Meeting yesterday and the chorus really stood out to me:
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name;
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name;
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing.
God our strength will be; press forward ever,
Called to serve our King.
"Called to Serve"
We really are all called to serve Heavenly Father, and you all are such wonderful examples to me of that service! And, I know that "God our strength will be" as we "press forward ever" :) This Church and this gospel is true! I love you all so much!