MICHAEL HAS A NOSE. He has a nose and mom sent me pictures of the nose he has and it's crazy. It's really, really crazy. Crazy. I could probably write my whole email about his nose, but I won't.
Things in Corbin are wonderful. It's weird because the better things are here, the more I seem to miss you all, but the less I want to come home. Maybe we can pray that the time will go quickly for you all and not so quickly for me. I do miss you though. Is it rude to say that I'm glad Nina misses me a lot? Because I am.
I wish you guys could meet the people the Lord is letting me meet. The work here has picked up like crazy since transfers. We literally have NO time to tract because we're so busy with teaching appointments. The only frustrating part is that we cover an area that used to be 2 areas but was shut down to Elders for reasons I'd rather not talk about so the area is now one and it is a LARGE area. Two days a week we go out to the London/Manchester/East Bernstadt area and make rounds with our investigators. We teach three lessons that are an hour each and spend the rest of the time driving. It takes about an hour from Corbin to get to Judy's and then it takes an hour minutes to get from Judy's to Jacob's and then it takes another half hour to get from Jacob's to Jackie's and then it takes a half hour to get from Jackie's and then 20 minutes to get to the Truett's (ward members preparing to go to the temple) or whoever else in the area we're visiting and then another half hour or so to get back to Corbin. And that's if it's not raining. PLUS, we just picked up another family in East Bernstadt and we have three referrals that we're trying to contact in the area. It's a tiring day. But, it's a good day. The rest of the days are spent between Corbin, Williamsburg, Lily, & Barbourville. I wish we didn't have to take the hour for lunch and for dinner. We'd have two more hours to drive to other places. I'm not complaining about how busy we are, I just wish we had more time to spend on investigators that need to see us more than we currently can.
|Nicole Noone - for those of you who don't know the|
famous character from that celebrated 'B' movie
The Librarian - The Nelson Girls' "Hero"
for all kinds of inexplicable reasons....
Sunday was a great day. We had THREE investigators at church, which is a huge accomplishment, especially when you consider how far people have to travel to get to church. All three of the investigators got rides from members. I hope you all have made yourselves available to the Missionaries to give rides to church. It's a horrible feeling to have people who would come to church if they had a ride, and not know who to call in the ward who is willing to spend the gas and extra money that it takes to bring them. I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting and I was given the topic of repentance. I decided to talk about how repentance isn't a gloomy, looming thing. It is a joyous, wonderful thing and it the key to our entering into the Celestial Kingdom. All of the results of repentance are positive. It might hurt a little in the cleansing part, just like cleaning a wound. It stings, but afterwards, it heals and you don't have to worry about prolonged pain or infection. If you came upon the celebration that was being had in the New Testament where a fatted calf had been cooked and everyone was crying and rejoicing, you wouldn't look at the prodigal son and be sad that he had repented, would you? Anyways, Sister Ralph played the organ and Bishop said it's the first time in about 15 years that that organ has been played. NOONE (as in Nicole Noone) can play here. The one kid that can play the piano didn't show up a couple weeks ago so they asked me to play and it was awful. I'm glad Sister Ralph is here.
Our three investigators at church were Jackie Logan, Jackie Sturgill and Willard Cox. Jackie Logan still isn't married so he isn't really progressing, but he got a job and that's a really good thing. Jackie Sturgill has a baptismal date for ! (We haven't taught him the Word of Wisdom yet though and he smokes, drinks coffee and chews so we might have to push that date back.) Satan is working SO hard on him. The shelter he's been staying at is closing and he has to move out and he's working but he doesn't have a place to live and he doesn't know what he's going to do. He knows the church is true though. He was offered a job last Sunday but he told the guy that he couldn't take it because he had to go to church. He's AWESOME. Then of course was my blave BYH, Willard. This was his first time at church and he loved it. He was smiling the whole time. I think he knows the church is true already, but he is very hesitant. He has a hard time thinking he needs to be baptized "again" and he likes the idea of the Celestial Kingdom but he is having a hard time forgiving himself for his past and doesn't think that his wife will want him when he sees her again. But he told us the story of how she died and she was sleeping in his arms, so I don't think that she was too mad at him, if at all when she died. And seeing how he has changed since his stroke has probably made her love him even more than she did before.
We've asked him to pray with us and he never will. He grew up in the Baptist Church but he's never said a prayer out loud. Yesterday he almost did but he got really nervous and looked at me and whispered, "Please don't make me do it." Of course I didn't ask him to after that, but we're seeing him tomorrow and I have high hopes for then. He's been praying and reading on his own like crazy. We actually got him to read a verse out loud for us yesterday and that was a huge step. He's making progress. He's coming to church again next week and already lives the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. I think once he says a prayer out loud to find out if the priesthood is real and essential, he'll be baptized. Seriously, he's like the Noodle Man to me or Gong Laoshi. I love him as much as I love those men. I wish so badly that I could hug him sometimes during our lessons, especially when he gets choked up. He's a very, very special spirit. When we're with him, Sister Ralph and I have talked about this, I'm reminded that no matter how old we get, we're still not THAT old in the scheme of things. And the Lord loves all of us the way we love little children. Willard is a child of God and He loves him the way he loves Violet and Lily.
|Gong Laoshi - Tai Chi Master|
|Brooke's precious Noodle Man|
"Lloyd" - from Wuxi, China
Moving on, we had a CRAZY storm this last week. Sister Ralph and I were having personal study and it started... I don't know how to describe it... bucketing rain. There was more water in the air than air. It was swimming outside. Lightning struck a street away and the wind was outrageous. Water started leaking in from the windows and doors and we sat near the window and watched, not scared because we knew the Lord was watching over us, but in awe. We watched as our tree which is much taller than our house tilted towards us and finally toppled onto the ground, feet away from the window we were looking out of. It was insane. We literally watched a tree that took YEARS to grow to its size fall over in a matter of seconds. We live near the end of a hill and the water started flooding so much that across the street our neighbors didn't even have a front yard and we didn't have a sidewalk, it was completely covered. We went outside on our porch and watched as cars tried to make it through the river that had formed outside our house. It reminded me of Mad, Mad World. The little cars had to turn around after a couple minutes because they couldn't make it through. The house down the street from us had a tree fall into their house and it took three days to get it all off of the house. It was really awe-inspiring. I kept thinking of the book "Their Eyes Were Watching God" which climaxes with a large storm. That's how I felt. I felt like I was watching God. People who think they have control over trivial things are wasting their time and their energy if they don't realize that God is the one who allows them to breathe and think and move and live.
I've been working on a "board game" for a couple weeks now in any spare time I can find. It's almost done and I promised Johnathan and Kaylee that I'd let them be the first to try it out. It wasn't finished last visit like I told them it would be so we let them teach us the Plan of Salvation using the cut-outs that Lauren made for me. When Johnathan got to the part about the Terrestrial Kingdom (which looks like the moon) he said, "I ain't never been to the moon, but I'm plannin' on it." That kid cracks me up. Everytime I'm there he tries to let me borrow one of his books because he knows I like reading and he does, too. I always tell him that I will when I'm not a missionary anymore. Before they got baptized I told them that because I had taught them, they weren't just committing to the church but that they were going in knowing that I would be in their lives for the rest of their lives whether they liked it or not. Since then Johnathan always tells me that if I ever lose contact with him that he will die and find me and haunt me. Haha. Their mom spoke in church [aslo] with me and she did an amazing job. She's very happy to be active again and I hope she stays active for the sake of those little angels.
We taught a man down the street the other day and dropped him during that first lesson because he's really creepy. But, one thing that he said during the lesson is something I've started saying to Sister Ralph: "Things could be better; but things could be worser. Much worser."
There's so much more to tell, but I'm running out of time.
Mom, thank you for the pictures of Michael. I hate him because he doesn't write me or send me pictures so you and Marty are my only ties to him right now until he repents. Also, Happy Anniversary to Joel & Val and Lindsey & Derek.
Extra Blessings: Sister Gossett, Joel, Valerie, Lily-Pad & Violet.
Word of the Week: Cook Out/Grill Out. People here don't know what you mean when you say that you want to have a BBQ. They think that means that you want to baste your chicken in the sauce. Here they say they're going to have a cook out and that you're invited. Yesterday we had a cook-out with the Truetts and had Hush Puppies & Catfish (aka a fish that has been eating mud it's whole life). The Hush Puppies were really good. The Catfish was really interesting. Brother Truett did a dance for us as we were leaving like Elvis because he knows I love Elvis. It was hilarious. Also, the other week Brother Truett wore teeth to church and it scared me because he looked like a horse. I like him better with his gums.
Thank you for the money, Mom. Thank you for the sweet stories about the Reunion. I'm sad I missed it. I got my patriarchal blessing when I was 14 and it has helped me make many, many decisions and I'm glad I got it as early as I did. Rex will benefit from his. The only sad part is that I can't be there when he gets it. I'm sure it will be a POWERFUL experience. He's a special boy. [Readers: I wrote to Brooke about her Grandpa John getting his patriarchal blessing when he was 4, and how Rex wanting to get his at age 12 didn't sound quite so young anymore. She obviously endorses the idea.]
People can write me more if they want to. I wouldn't mind. Either way though, I'm so, so, so, so, so happy. I blame y'all for that. I wouldn't be out here without your love, patience and support. Prayers work. The Temple is the most important goal we can have on this earth. Jesus Christ knows our names and knows our spirits more than we do. Satan didn't have the veil so he remembers us, too. We need to hold on to the Iron Rod with both hands if we want to be happy. God won't force us to be happy, but he is offering it to us with open arms. The Church is TRUE! Share it!
Love, Love, Love-