This morning I was reading this story Sis Castellano (2nd comp) gave me. It goes along with Malachi 3:2-3. "A group of LDS women were studying Malachi. One offered to find out about the process of refining silver. So she went to watch a silver smith at work without mentioning the reason for her interest. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. She asked the silver smith if it were true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye to the silver the entire time it was on the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh that's easy- when I see my image in it."
Sometimes we are placed in fires or trials that really burn and hurt. Sometimes we wonder why we have to go through that and it's hard to understand the purpose at the time. But I know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle and I know that the trials He gives us are truly for our benefit. I am constantly reminded of my experiences serving at the Liberty Jail. That is something even a prophet of God needed to realize- that our trials will be just for a small moment. And we can get through them if we turn to Him. He is ALWAYS watching over us and gives us these experiences to help us to grow.
Meeting people out here and growing to love them so much is a lot harder than I expected. Watching them go through trials or even make choices that I know God is aching over, breaks my heart! I feel like my heart is going to explode as a missionary. I don't know how much more it can grow and be stretched as I watch people that I love go through all that they do.
Felix and Serenity are still doing great! They were able to come to sacrament meeting yesterday :) He was ignoring all of his calls during the meeting but afterwards he had some pretty upset people that were calling him into work. But at least they were able to come to the first hour! Serenity loooves church, it is adorable. She was so excited to show us her new dress and shoes that her daddy bought her. She loves stealing my water bottle every time we see her. And she loves to draw pictures of us which I add to my Serenity collection haha. Felix asked to meet with the bishop last week which was so awesome!! So we set that up and they had a nice chat he said. We still haven't set a date with him but I know he is ready to do so. Please keep him in your prayers! Our appointments with them are hilarious.. soooo A.D.D. as soon as we get there. But we have so much fun and the Spirit is always so strong. I feel like they're family. Last visit Serenity started really crying in the middle, like sobbing, and we were all so confused. Felix picks her up and she starts talking about how much she misses her grandpa who passed away. It was the saddest thing.. But watching him comfort her and tell her about heaven and that he is in a peaceful place, the mood immediately changed. The Spirit bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation again. I am so grateful for our knowledge that we will see our loved ones again. It hurt so bad to watch her hurt! But I know that as they continue to learn more and more, the more peace and joy they will have from the gospel. Even among their trials they are going through..
Apryl is an older black lady that we've visited quite a few times but only truly taught once because they've been so busy. But she is SO so awesome. She came to church with us yesterday and loved it. She is hilarious and sooo outgoing- just ran around talking to everyone at church and cracking jokes right and left. We love her and are excited to keep teaching her.
We're back in contact with Shawn!! We are continuing to help her move and man it is hard work ha. I am always so sore because Sis Stewart says she can't lift over 10 pounds and Shawn can't lift anything so they leave it up to Sparkles... But it's been so good to see her again. It is still so frustrating to see Satan work so hard on her and to twist her answers that she has received. One thing that was cool was a lesson we had with her the other day. We had planned to finish up lesson 3 but while we were there talking to her I felt very strongly that she needed the word of wisdom right then. I kept debating with myself and was scared picturing how she might react. But I bucked up the courage and strayed from the lesson we had planned. (2 Tim. 1:7 "For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind") I go to that scripture often when I'm scared.. because that fear or doubt truly is coming from Satan and blocks the promptings we receive from the Spirit! So anyways, we ended up teaching her the word of wisdom and surprisingly it went so well. After the lesson she just sat there pondering for awhile and said "Well maybe this IS something that's holding me back...." She didn't commit to live it but she said she would pray about it, which is progress.
We had our zone meeting this past week as well! So we met President and Sister Bell. They are great. She is a sweetheart and they are both gun-ho about the work. (still got the MTC fire) It still isn't easy for me when I remember the Keyes or my friends back in the other mission.. but the Spirit does testify to me that this is where I am needed.
Sister Pacada is our amazing relief society president in the ward and she is sooo awesome!! She had this grand idea to have the sisters start bringing cookies around to our investigators that we're teaching. So they've started doing that! And also, Sister Swan (less active lady that has theeee biggest heart) made Felix and his fam a meal last week. I love our church and the fact that it is our Savior's church. Even just the organization and the service that goes on is enough to solidify that for me.
Many of our investigators, we have had to give to the University branch sisters and the new elders.. which has been pretty rough! So we are pretty pumped to keep FINDING. This never-ending cycle of missionary work ha. We tracted a lot more this past week than we ever did last transfer. One of the days it was raining so it was quite the adventure. We met many crazies and had some interesting times. This one guy we met had his goddess tattooed to his back and told us allll about how he can cast love spells..... That was just one of many haha. Sister Stewart is so funny. She says that she can't talk when tracting because she gets too mad and has to bite her tongue.. so we are working on being patient and learning to let the Spirit speak through us and answer how Christ would.
There are MANY many Spanish-speaking investigators around here which has been a way cool experience. But it's also been quite a problem and we are realizing that some Spanish missionaries would be very helpful around here. So we might start studying up on our Spanish if they don't send some soon..haha.
I love being a missionary! There are hard days and days that definitely stretch me but when it comes down to it, I am sooooo grateful to have this time to serve the Lord and to only focus on the gospel. It is amazing not having to worry about the world. I love this church. I love my Savior and am so indeed grateful for the Atonement. I am grateful to be able to repent and to turn to Him to help me.. because I need it!
I'm so grateful for all the love and support. I have the best family in the world. Hope you all have a fantastic week!
PS Funny story. We were teaching Sandra (from Puerto Rico) and she straight up fell asleep while we were watching the Restoration....I could not stop laughing after I heard her snore.