This week was certainly an interesting one. First, I learned that our God is definitely a God of miracles. Second, I learned that people can be really, really dumb. Haha actually, looking back, there was really only one instance that I can think of someone acting really, really dumb, and another big scare. But both happened just yesterday, so they're fresh on my mind. I'll try to keep things pretty upbeat here, because most of the week was pretty upbeat. I'll then just have one really, really dumb paragraph.
First, we had my birthday party!! Gemma, the 12-year-old, made me a birthday cake, and then the whole family sang and everything. Then, we proceeded playing "Kan Jam" and Bocce the rest of the night. Kan Jam is a Frisbee game where you have a partner, and you throw the frisbee to your partner, who tries to... well, jam it into a big can. Haha the cans are about the size of a garbage can. Wellll.... I don't mean to brag, or anything. But Mary-Bernadette and I had a record of about 13-2. As soon as Kan Jam makes it into the Olympics, she and I are getting back in touch.
We also did tons of random fellowshipping and service, very little of which makes for any good stories haha. We went to Jake Ziegler's track meet, helped at a Boy Scout fundraiser dinner, kind of planted flowers at a Catholic Church, and swept gravel off the road of a woman across the street. Haha like I said... none of those are very exhilarating stories.
BUT! Allow me to tell you some stories that DO have some more exhilaration factor.
So on.... Wednesday maybe? Oh well, really doesn't matter too much. But we were going around Wethersfield, which is one of our far, outlying areas, making our rounds to a few different potential investigators, referrals, members, and less-active members that we have out that way. Annnnnd, not a single one was home. So what we had planned to last about four hours instead took about twenty minutes. We were sitting there trying to think of something to do since our main plan, our backup plan, and even our backup backup plan had all fallen through. Then I thought about a referral that we had in Varysburg! We needed to go contact that referral! So we drove the 15-20 miles to Varysburg (not really a logical place to go as a backup), and got to the Dillon's house. Annnnd, no one was home. Since we were on that road already, though, we figured we'd stop by Jim and Sue's, who are a couple that we met about a month ago that are very cool, but satisfied with their religion so we've never given them too much emphasis. (Actually, they remind me A LOT of the Ludekes.)
Well, we got to their house and knocked, and Sue came to the door, looking overly surprised to see us. We apologized for just stopping in, and said we were just coming to get their phone number so we could set something up for later. She gave it to us, but then asked if we wanted to talk outside for a little while. Obviously, we said yes. So, she brought us some root beers and we sat out on some benches in the back. Apparently she'd been having some struggles with someone that she rents to, and was getting super frustrated by it. She said about thirty minutes ago, she had prayed, "God, just help me figure out what to do!" Literally thirty minutes ago, we decided to head over to Varysburg! And it just so happens that I have been studying patience for the past week or so, and had all sorts of scriptures to help her out. We read from Alma 32, Ether 12:27, and all over in the Book of Mormon. Ether 12:27 was a cool one, because she instantly started making connections to all sorts of other things she'd been reading lately. It is definitely cool when you are used by God to answer someone else's prayer - especially when they recognize it, too!! We're scheduled to go back there for dinner this Friday evening!
Miracle: Round Two: As in all good stories, all of our appointments cancelled on Thursday night. First the Zieglers, then Jimmy, then all the people we normally would stop by when no one else is available. So we went to the library to do some internet work for a while, deciding that afterwards we'd head over to Linda's house. When we signed off, I said, "Hey, let's walk over to Cathy and Taylor's." "I thought we were going to Linda's," Elder Kelly said. "We were.... but let's walk over to Cathy and Taylor's." "Can we drive, at least?" "Nah... let's walk." And so we did. As we were coming up to Cathy and Taylor's, it was clear that they weren't home. However, there was a lady outside the house right across the street with her dog. Dogs always make introductions easier, because if they don't want to talk to you, you just pretend like you were really there to pet the dog, anyways. So we pet the dog, asked questions about the dog, which eventually transitioned into questions about her life and all. We're missionaries, we get personal pretty quickly.
So apparently, Maria (haha that's her name, I guess I should say that) used to live in the northeast corner of the state, but moved out here two years ago because it's where her brother and sister lived. Well, her sister died within six months of her moving, and her brother died just two months ago. Now she's really frustrated, but can't move back home, because she is going through a bunch of treatment for an ankle deformity. We talked to her about how frustrating it is sometimes when we get answers to prayers that don't seem to work out, but then reassured her that there's always a reason for our answer, even if it's not the reason we expected. We explained the story of Lehi and his family being lead from their home in Jerusalem. Neither Nephi nor his brothers really understood why they were doing leaving, but the big difference is that Nephi prayed to understand. He didn't pray for the outcome or answer to change, just that he could understand what was going on. Because of this, he was blessed. Maria then said she struggles sometimes because she can't tell what's an answer to a prayer and what is just her brain thinking things. I shared Elder Bednar's quote where he said if we are being "good little boys and good little girls" then our thoughts ARE the Lord's thoughts, because they are lead by the Holy Ghost. Then we talked about how we need to make a habit on acting on small promptings so that it becomes more and more natural. I then decided to share with her the story leading up to us even meeting her. I testified that sometimes, our promptings simply don't make sense; they go completely counter to what you'd originally planned on. But, clearly, they lead to good things. While I shared this story, and even more so when we gave her a Book of Mormon, her eyes were full of tears. Then she asked us if we could come back and talk more, and hurried inside saying she was going to go start reading. It was thrilling!
Ha, I might as well share the low point of the week now, since it fits so well here. When we went back to Maria's the next day like we'd scheduled, she wasn't there. We went back the next day, and she answered the door and apologized for not being there the day before and asked if we could come back Sunday night. Well, on Sunday, there was a note on her door asking us to not come back over again and to please not talk to her if we see her outside. Talk about a freaking buzz-kill. I was soooo frustrated by it all! Honestly, I have zero clue what happened.
Now I'll share a somewhat happy/somewhat completely miserable story. I have told you about Dolly, I believe. She's the 85-year-old with all the jokes. Well, we went back over there yesterday, and she said she was really not doing well at all. We knew she had broker her back not too long ago, and that that gave her problems, and that she had osteoporosis. But yesterday she told us that she also had leukemia, and that it had really taken a toll on her this past week. We are planning on going over and doing service at her house a week from today, and she kept on saying things like, "Well, even if I am not here by then, it will have to be done for whoever moves in." It was heart-breaking! We talked with her for a good hour or so, and shared a whole bunch of scriptures with her, all about what eternity and heaven are like. As we left, we gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, which she said she would read as soon as we left. I don't know... it's an interesting situation for sure. Here's the great thing: We can teach her a much as possible for the next few weeks, and then we know that angels will pick up right where we left off in the spirit world! We don't know what she'd be able or willing to do here, but it is extremely reassuring to know that if she does pass away, our efforts weren't in vain and that she still has a long life ahead of her in eternity. It's like President said to us on the phone yesterday, "This isn't about physical life. As that life comes to an end, you have the opportunity and obligation to teach about spiritual and eternal life."
Well, this should be an exciting week, no question! We have an appointment to teach the Zieglers and then later to help them put in their garden. We are going to do crazy amounts of service tomorrow, followed by an appointment with Renate. Wednesday we're just all over the place. We can finally take a breath on Thursday, only to spend all day Friday in Palmyra with Gila and Josef! Now THAT I am excited about!! Haha Gila is seriously the most fun person to teach, of all time. We can talk about weird doctrines that I don't even fully know how to explain myself, and she is able to back it all up with the Bible. Like the idea of the New Jerusalem being built in America! Apparently that makes perfect sense if you read the Hebrew Bible. Haha It's just great, and I can't wait 'til Friday!
Well, I love you, but I don't miss you!