We had some fun this week. :)
Tuesday we were up in Appleton where there was some black ice. On the way back down we parked on this old Hwy where there are houses maybe every quarter mile and walked in the pitch black darkness in 27 degree weather from house to house. That was the day we learned that people get really weirded out when they see a couple of girls in skirts walking down a road in the dark :)
Wednesday we had the Christmas gathering up in Yakima! It was a lot of fun and it was great to see all of the friends I have made across the mission :) We got back at 8 that night where we met with the Bishop. It was kind of cool because we've been working really hard with the ward and have been doing a lot of finding and at the end of our report he sat there for a moment before saying, "Thank you for your hard work. It's inspiring." It reminded me that sometimes we have blinders on and don't notice the impact we really have where we are working because we don't see immediate results. But holy cow I love this work and am so grateful to be a part of it.
Thursday was the day the heavens opened and the angels had a massive pillow fight. According to Mary anyway. We stopped by a handful of our RCLA's and over the course of three hours where we didn't drive, just walked and taught, our car got 5 1/2 inches piled on it. WE also are now the proud parents of 20 little plants. Our dear friend Amber has been trying to let go slowly of all of her plants. So we offered to take some, figuring we could use them to fellowship some of the inactive sisters that I have never met. I hope they don't die. I'm not very good at keeping plants alive. That night we accidentally triple booked and had a couple people wondering if we had died. Good to know that we are loved :)
Friday was actually the best. Nimmas - we taught the 10 commandments! We are working on helping Tyler become a priest and get his patriarchal blessing and we helped them learn them with the handsigns. Then I confronted Bro Nimma about getting his patriarchal blessing and finally he said,
"I'll think about it."
*approximately 2 minutes later*
"I thought about it. No."
Later that night we took Tyler with us to the Brandts and faced down a room of about 7 men, ranging from inactive to non member to maybe a little anti, more than half of them being "Heathens" as they call themselves. We rounded them up and cornered them into the dining room with Sis Brandt watching with amusement from the living room. Then Skip walks in and we rope him in. The beautiful thing about it was once we got one, none of them wanted to be chastised alone, if one of them was going down, they were ALL going down. He asks,
"What is this all about?"
"The Church? I know everything there is to know about the church! What do you want to know?"
"I wanna know why you don't go to Church."
I know the Spirit isn't sassy, but I swear there was a split second where I had to decide how to answer and that is what came to mind. It had the desired effect, they all flipped out and threw him under the bus as he fumbled for an answer. He regained his composure after a couple of seconds and actually bore an incredibly powerful testimony of how he knew the importance of going to church and how he had seen it bless his life. Then Tyler challenged them all to come to church, Tristan gave Alex a Book of Mormon and we committed Devin to taking the missionary lessons again since he works on Sundays. Then, as we walked back to our car, Tyler taught Ryan and Tristan the 10 commandments using the hand signs. The little missionary mom inside of me was beaming.
That night we had a lesson with Dakota and John (codenames) and she is finally beginning to accept the Book of Mormon!
Saturday we walked pretty much all day, helped a former investigator get back onto the road, and got majorly bashed twice, once in Spanish, once in English.
The first one was interesting because he prefaced it with (translation)
"Now let's not invite our enemy Satan into the conversation okay?"
Almost immediately thereafter he slandered Joseph Smith and called us fools for believing. It was not my favorite experience but also I am incredibly grateful for it because I eventually just shut it down, after testifying that I had received my own personal witness. We told him that there were others waiting for us and that he wasn't going to change our mind or "enlighten" us to the truth. We told him that unless he had read the Book of Mormon for himself and asked God with a pure heart, he cannot slander it and tell us that it is from the devil and not of God. He simply couldn't. Finally I asked him to pray right then and there to know if this was truth, what he was saying and he said "Of course!"
He then prayed and asked God to please enlighten us and help us find the right path so that we could be saved. Afterwards, I thanked him and told him, "No hizo lo que pregunte pero esta bien." We promised we would pray for him and he promised the same.
The second was by a "black sheep" Jehovah Witness who was drunk. He was 24 and essentially told us to get out of religion while we could and be free. Besides the fact that he wasn't listening, he was just plain drunk and refused to actually "hear" anything we said. We parted with friendly feelings, him telling us to be ready for more questions next time we met and us letting him know that we would have a Book of Mormon with his name on it. He laughed and ran.
During Stake Conference, Elder Cornish said two things that impressed me greatly.
1. Sometimes we get so caught up in the things that imperfect people have done imperfectly, particularly with the Church history and background. He said, "I'll try to put it delicately, but the Lord simply doesn't care. He has never been one to care what the world or anyone thinks of Him." Although at first I was a little taken aback, I realized it was true. After all was said and done, the gospel is still true and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says.
2. The reason we do not keep the 4th commandment (keep the Sabbath day holy) is because we do not keep the first: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Well the god we put above God is named "Self".
I realized that I get caught up in those two things a lot. Sometimes I worry too much about what others think and focus to much on Self. Fortunately, this Christmas season we get a little extra help in turning us away from ourselves and more to others, aka God.
"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God."
So don't give into Self! I challenge you all to really focus on everyone and everything other than Self because when we do that I promise that is where we truly find happiness - knee deep in a snowy ditch helping someone else push their car out.
Love you all! :)
Washington Yakima Mission