Well hello again!
Man, how the weeks fly by! I have a lot to tell you about this week :)
I'm going to start with what's probably the biggest news. Elder Craig A. Cardon came for a mission tour/zone conference! And...I got to have a one-on-one interview with him! It was so incredible. Elder Weiss (one of the Area Presidents) called night (the night before the conference) and said that Elder Cardon wanted to interview a couple of missionaries before the conference began, and that I was picked to meet with him! I don't know why I was, but it was sweet. First, we had a Mission Leadership Council meeting with him at , so it was all the zone and district leaders and the sister training leaders from the Ames and Des Moines stakes. We started spiritual prep at , and (naturally) I was playing prelude. came around and no one stood up to start the meeting, so I kept playing, and on and on...until finally at about , two zone leaders walked in (I hadn't realized that they had been on the phone with them and were waiting for them - I guess they had had trouble getting there) and the meeting began. We sang the opening hymn, had a prayer, etc., and when Elder Cardon stood up to speak, he looked at me and thanked me for playing the prelude, and took seriously like 5-10 minutes talking about how much he appreciates the time to listen to hymns on the piano and spiritually prepare and how grateful he was. It was so sweet! He then went on with his training about working together as councils, which was really good.
Then, after MLC and before zone conference, I had my interview with Elder Cardon! I was so nervous and it was cold so I was shaking haha. It went really well though, and was a really cool experience. He asked me about myself, which was fun because he's from Arizona and studied accounting. He also asked about my family, so I got to tell him about each member briefly, and when he asked if all my members are strong in the gospel and I mentioned that they all are except my little brother, he asked me about him and told me to keep writing to him. He asked me questions like what I've learned on my mission and from President Jensen and if I had any questions for him (I was able to ask him one about helping make sure people are ready for baptism, which was cool because then he addressed that topic in his training at the zone conference), and he read some scriptures with me. At the end, he asked me if I would be writing my family , and told me to tell my parents two things. So here they are, only because I committed to him that I would tell you:
1. He said that I blessed an entire zone conference and the life of a general authority by 25 minutes of beautifully played prelude music, and
2. You (Mom & Dad) have raised a valiant daughter who has served a beautiful mission.
So basically I felt super humbled and loved and I can never complain or think that Heavenly Father doesn't care about me or love me, because He does and now I just need to share that love with others :) As we were leaving the interview, he wished me luck in school and then paused and looked at me and told me to make marriage a priority and to not let school or plans get in the way of that. So I promised that I would do that too :)
|sleep over with Lamoni, Mason City, and Ames sisters the night before zone conference here in Des Moines!|
The rest of the zone conference was wonderful and not scary like last year's mission tour was haha. Elder Cardon is bold but super loving and makes you want to be better! His wife was so cute and sweet too. It was a wonderful meeting and we had a great lunch afterwards :)
I'll bullet point the rest of the week:
- We had interviews , which were great. I love President and Sister Jensen :)
- A lady we've been teaching was also interviewed for baptism . Holy cow were there a lot of ups and downs with her this week. She didn't pass her interview, but we all - herself included - felt at peace with that. She said that she felt like it was an opportunity to learn more and to work towards being even more prepared for her baptism. We had an awesome lesson with her in a member's home later in the week, and it appeared that basically all her concerns were resolved. We struggle a LOT on commitment though, as she still won't take the time to read even a tiny paragraph from the Book of Mormon or go to church. So we very lovingly committed her to do those things for one week to just try it and see if it makes a difference. Well, she texted us last night and completely dropped us, saying that we were pushy, manipulative, rude, etc etc. We seriously have given everything we can to help her, and we were so sure that she'd get baptized - she was so close! - so that was really hard. It's hard because when things like this happen, you start to doubt and wonder if you did the wrong things and you worry because, well, it's someone's eternal salvation you're talking about! But we really did try our best to help her. We probably could have let her get baptized , but the commitment just was not there and we felt really uncomfortable. So now we just need to go forth in faith and pray that she will allow the Church into her life once she's in a better place physically and emotionally.
- On a happier note, another lady is doing so great! She came to church for the third week in a row. I sat next to her and helped keep her cute little boy entertained because she was so tired and somewhat exasperated with him. I was happy that he responded well to me, even though I couldn't put him on my lap or hold him :) She is so cute. She keeps saying things like, "I can't wait to be bapti!" (Liberians don't finish their words haha). We also had a fun lesson with her talking about the temple and eternal marriage. She asked about dating so we taught her how to actually date and how she needs to date good Mormon boys. It was so fun :)
- Another lady is also doing awesome! I said this before, but I wish I could somehow convey to you how hilarious she is! When we go over she's like, "AYYYY, SISTER MISSIONARY!!" In gospel principles she asked the teacher why she needs to be baptized again when she was baptized in Monrovia in the Pentecostal Church, and she listened so intently as he helped answer her question. Then in relief society, at the end of the lesson, she raised her hand and went on to tell her whole conversion story (I didn't know any of it!) about how she used to believe the stories she'd hear about how Mormons kill people and put their bodies in secret rooms and worship snakes (it was insane) but how now she knows that that's not true and she knows that "the latter day saint church is a GOOD church!" and "it teach you to not fornicate, to not have sex with people you not marry to," and on and on...I was sitting behind her and literally I was shaking and crying from trying so hard to not bust up laughing! It was soooo funny...but so awesome at the same time because she said she wants to be baptized and she totally is gaining at testimony! I also died because we have yet to teach her the law of chastity and she still needs to get married to her boyfriend.
- Another crazy little incident happened when we went over to a less-active lady's house to help her with some chores because she's a parapelegic and needed some help. As I was washing the dishes, I turned around and saw blood dripping all over the kitchen floor from Sis. Anderson's foot! She doesn't have any feeling in her legs/feet so she hadn't noticed that she had hit it and there was a HUGE gash in her big toe. So Sis Barker and I quickly jumped in to clean up the blood that was now all over the floor (because she had wheeled her wheelchair around in it before realizing what was going on) and play "nurse" and bandage her up. Good times.
- Our investigator who is blind is doing great! She prayed out loud for the first time this week, which was awesome. We seriously love her, she is so sweet and is slowly but surely reading her braille Book of Mormon! Usually when we visit her, we'll do something little for her before we leave, like read a prescription or instructions of how to cook something, which is fun.
- We taught a new investigator who is the cutest Sudanese grandma! She says we're her grandkids now :) haha. She hardly speaks a lick of English, so we took a Sudanese member with us to translate. It was an interesting lesson haha. Oh, it got SUPER cold this week. I am so grateful for my warm coat and gloves and car, and the little space heater in our apartment! I'm also super grateful that we've been safe, because the roads are terrible and we've seen so many accidents. We've been super careful :) oh but it was cute - she was like, "If it's this cold in Africa, everyone thinks they're going to die!"
- We also taught our Karen/Burmese/Thai family the Restoration, and even though the kids were being crazy, everyone was so quiet and the Spirit was so strong when Sis Barker recited the First Vision!
- I went to Lamoni on exchanges again! It was awesome! I was with Sister Rasmussen, who is wonderful. We saw so many people I worked with when I was serving there a few months ago. I love that little town so much.
|With Sister Rasmussen at Graceland University|
- Cute quote of the week: Sis Barker to a 10-year-old daughter of a lady we're teaching: "What are you grateful for?" Her answer: "You guys." gah. I love being a missionary.
- We had some good visits with a mother and her kids. They taught us a fun hand-clapping game, and we taught them a clapping rhythm thing and the song "I Am a Child of God." The mom is doing great and is understanding more and more, but we found out that she and her kids' dad can't get married for a while because of weird immigration things. So that's kind of sad, but we'll still work with them a little and they'll get baptized next year hopefully :)
- We had dinner at an inactive member's home, which was one of the funniest dinners I've had. She's in her 60's, and this is going to sound racist but she's just about the most black person I've ever met - and super classy at that. There are always tons of people coming in and out because they have TONS of family around, and always hip hop/R&B music blasting. She made us tons of the best fried chicken ever, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and blue and red velvet bundt cake. It was awesome hahaha.
Missions are the best. They are so hard but they are so wonderful at the same time! Thanks for letting me be here :) I know that this gospel is true! Spiritual aha of the week: the story of the pearl of great price. We must give everything we have for the gospel - but it really doesn't matter how much our everything is! There is not set purchase price - just everything we have. And it's OK if someone else's everything is more or less than ours! If we give everything we have, then in return we will receive all the Father hath. He is so merciful and loving!
I love you all sooo much.