Well, in comparison to last week's, this letter will be a little blander. Elder Ryser was sick, so we didn't go out at all that day. Then we had a meeting on Tuesday that sucked up a ton of time... But, some cool things still happened, so I shall share them.
First and foremost, we were planning on meeting with Shane on Wednesday, but knew ahead of time that it might not go through because everyone in his house had been sick at some point that week. When we asked him Wednesday morning if we were on, here was his text back (the periods are his own, not ellipses) :
"Sorry guys we can't do it this week..let's set up a day for next week. Thanks!..oh and when is the next baptism cause I am totally in!!!"
Haha I don't think I've ever been so happy to read a text that was cancelling an important appointment :)
Unfortunately, because he had to cancel and because he had to run his daughter to the doctor since she still wasn't better, the baptism probably won't be for another three or four weeks. But still! Only a day or so earlier he said he'd been praying but wasn't sure if he was getting an answer. (Haha he himself said that it was probably because he was so sick he couldn't think straight.) Based on his text two days later, I think he got it!!
We got iPads this week! It's pretty cool. We've used them a number of times already in lessons to show Mormon Messages. Let's be real, being told not to procrastinate by President Eyring is more powerful than the same thing coming from me haha. There are some definite kinks in the whole deal, especially with the area book and planners which they have put entirely on the iPad. It is much easier to talk to someone on the street just write down their name and number and a follow up appointment than it is to pull your iPad out of your backpack, unlock it, wait for the app to load, get to the planner part, wait for it to load, then create an event where we have to say what type of appointment, who it is with, what time, how long, on and on and on. It's irritating... but hopefully will get better as time goes on. For now, I'll just enjoy watching Joseph Smith Papers videos before bed and showing Mormon Messages during lessons!
Ha we had an interesting lesson with Sharon. We haven't seen her since my first week here, because really we intended on dropping her. She has had the habit, according to her teaching record for the past eight years, of having wonderful lessons being super enthused, then calling the missionaries within the next couple of hours saying they were rude and pushy, and that she never wanted them to come back. Then they would go back, and she would invite them right in and get gung-ho all over again. When the same thing happened my first lesson with her, we decided to just take her word for it this time. Well, last week we had a training where President really emphasized the importance of letting someone know that you are dropping them so they know they can reach out to the missionaries at any time when they are ready to make and keep commitments. Sooo, we decided we should do that for Sharon.
When we got there, she was talking about how she'd had a pretty bad week, so we both felt that we shouldn't just say, "Well Sharon, we're not coming back anymore." Instead, we really had a great lesson. We talked about "Choose you this day who you will serve" from Joshua and "How long halt ye between two opinions?" from 1 Kings. We talked about how life is all about the correct use of agency, and how our job as missionaries is to really provide people agency by offering them a correct choice to make. She admitted that she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon at all for months, and hadn't been to church in some time (haha and by that what she means is that she's been four times in eleven years... haha). We then explained that we were there for her 100% if she wanted to move forward with this, but that if she didn't want to take the steps that we offered, we really weren't doing anyone much good. She decided it was time for her to really learn for herself. She promised that she would be at church the next day, and decided that she was going to read the Book of Mormon for at least an hour before she started watching TV again. She went as far as to say which parts she was going to read and comment on the fact that she might not be able to read quite that long if her eyes started hurting. She said that she felt good in a way that she hadn't over the past few weeks, "So you boys must be doing something right to make me feel like this, right?" It was great, and we left just about as enthused as she was!
Thennnn, 15 minutes later, we get a call. She said she was nervous the whole time we were there, that she hadn't really had the intention of doing anything she said she was going to, and that we'd "essentially said God doesn't love [her]." What??? It was bizarre... but I guess at least she knows why we aren't coming back anymore? Ha... I dunno. Interesting mission stuff!
But, to share one more happy mission story, even though it'll be pretty short, Michael is getting even closer to baptism! He even said today that he has talked to President Francis and wants me to baptize him! Haha interestingly, he also has a baptismal date at the Russian Orthodox church that he's trying to make a decision about. We've had so many great conversations and he has told me about SO MANY miracles that he has seen pointing him to the Church... I just hope he'll see the signs and react to them!
On a completely different note, I have been pondering over something. I finished up my fifth mission journal this week. While I knew keeping a journal wasn't exactly the most common practice in the world, it is surprising to me how few missionaries really keep one. Elder Barnes writes in his when he gets transferred and at baptisms. Elder Ryser hasn't written in his since he was in Hornell over seven months ago. Anyways, I have kept mine up a little better than that, though I haven't quite kept my goal of writing daily like I'd hoped before my mission.
But, with what I have written, I have learned a ton. There is something markedly relieving about being able to take all these unlinked thoughts in my head and put them out on paper. Granted, journal will have a lot of frustrations and concerns, not to mention it will present my occasional less-than-focused times. Still, it is extremely relaxing to get my thoughts out. It is energizing to look back on daily miracles. It is very spiritual to record random revelations. And, of course, it is quite encouraging to look back and read past entries.
One might say that I have a testimony of journal-keeping.
Now, all of this leads into what I was really thinking. I had heard a lot of people encourage me to write a journal before my mission. Some were moms of missionaries; some were returned missionaries. Thankfully I listened, but I didn't really understand what they were saying until now that I have done it. Let's apply this to all sorts of other commandments. Tithing. Scripture study. Fasting. Temple attendance. Repentance. Any of these and more we hear about all the time. We hear listed off the blessings that come from them. But, we cannot really understand any of them until we have done them ourselves. Pondering over my testimony of journal-keeping has really taught me a ton about testimony in general. We can learn all we want from others, but we really don't learn much until we have put what we have heard to practice.
Haha it's also funny. At Utah State, all the Mormons thought I was in a cult for being in a fraternity. This week, I found out that 20% of the student body here is Greek! Nevertheless, the Greeks think I'm in a cult because I'm Mormon. It's an odd conundrum I find myself in haha.
I love you, but I don't miss you!