Dad, I can't believe that you counted and I only have 66 days left...ahh!
So I am sure that you saw me talking about Jesse Lewis' baptism on Facebook. I totally forgot to tell you about her last week! Jesse lives in Bella Vista, near Redding, and was being taught by the Palo Cedro Ward Sisters. Two weeks ago the Palo Cedro Sisters were transferred out of that ward, so they now just have one set of Elders. The sisters called us on transfer day and told us about Jesse and that they wanted us to take over teaching her. What a blessing it has been to teach Jesse! She is incredible! Her testimony is immovable and so strong in this gospel. Her husband is agnostic and neither of her two children are baptized, so she is now the first member in her family. Every single person around her has been asking what is so different about Jesse lately and she knows that this gospel has not just changed her on the inside, but also changed her countenance. Jesse was a testimony to me that the Lord is preparing His children. He knows what they need and when they need it. Jesse met with missionaries in Oregon 12 years ago and then two months ago, the sisters knocked on her door and everything just clicked this time around. I feel so blessed to have been able to help Jesse on her journey and know she is going to do amazing things in this church.
Sister Ward called us this week and told us that her foster daughter, Chris, was coming to stay with her and might be interested in taking the lessons. We went over three times this week to teach her. Chris has been abused emotionally, verbally, physically, and sexually almost all her life. She is still struggling with abuse and addictions. As Chris sat there and cried to us about the things that she has to deal with, I felt so guided by the spirit as I told her about the Atonement. I asked her what she wanted for her life and testified that the only way that she can be truly happy forever is by embracing this gospel. I was able to share some of the experiences I have had in my life and how I never thought that I would make it through, but because of my Savior, I was able to overcome the heartbreak, pain, guilt and anger that I felt. My words were so guided as I expressed to her this importance. There is nothing that I love more to teach than about the Atonement. This is why I came out here, to be a witness for people that they can change their lives. It doesn't have to be how it currently is and anyone can become changed. Chris is leaving to go back home on Tuesday, but we are hoping that she takes the things that we were able to teach her and applies them into her life. Whether it be now or down the road, at least she knows that there is a way to get out of this cycle and there is a way to be made free through the Atonement.
President Marston has asked us to focus more on having dinners with nonmembers and less actives. It is amazing to see that as we have been praying to have these opportunities, the ward is stepping up and allowing us to have them. We didn't have dinner on last Friday and so we decided to call a Less Active part member family who we always try to meet with, yet it never seems to work out. The mom immediately said that she would love to have us over and while we were there, we were able to really build a relationship we have been trying to for a while. We shared the new Mormon Message called "You Never Know" and the mom loved it! She asked us to share it on her Facebook wall and then she shared it on her page with all her nonmember "mom friends". So cool! Yesterday night we had dinner with the Sargaent's and they invited Sister Zitar, a less active woman we have been trying to get a hold of for weeks, over for dinner. We were able to discuss the sacrament and be very straight forward with her that we needed her at church. She needed to be there to take the sacrament. With her insomnia it is hard because her sleep schedule is reversed, but she committed to try and make it there this week. Every single night this week we are having dinner with a less active, part member family, or non member. It's going to be so awesome! We are praying that we will be able to find something for each of these individuals that will touch their heart and increase their faith in the Savior.
I am so grateful for my time out here on my mission! There is literally nowhere else I would rather be. I know that I say that a lot, but I really mean it. As I have been reading through Alma the last few weeks, I am so grateful for the example that Ammon and Alma give us to follow as strong disciples of Christ. Alma 26 was such a strength to me this week. "...I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land [of the California Roseville Mission], for which I will praise his name forever." Everything I have been blessed to experience on my mission has been through the strength and power of God. Every miracle wrought has been because of Him. I am so grateful for a loving God who has allowed me to see His hand in my life. "Now when [my heart was] depressed, and [I was] about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted [me], and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the [people of California], and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." There have been times when I have wanted to just give up and go home, but the Lord has comforted me and been there for me through it all. I have been able to have success because the Lord was always there for me. I just wish I could express in words how much the Lord means to me and how much love I have for everyone that has supported me on this journey. I love this gospel! I love knowing the truth and sharing it.
I love and miss every single one of you!