This week has been a roller coaster. (Drekmore, I keep thinking about "Lincoln Park is a roller coaster"). Tuesday night we got a call from Jackie Sturgill telling us that he's done with our church and didn't want to be baptized anymore. He was offended by the bishop and by the people who introduced him to the church. We got the story from him and from what he was told by the member, I would have been offended, too. We went over and talked with Bishop about the things he had said to the member who had relayed it to Jackie. He told us he never said that and that he never would have said that and that he really likes Jackie and has high hopes for him. So, Bishop went over to the member's house and chastised him and then we had to go eat dinner at the member's house that night and it was really awkward. Then we went and patched things up with Jackie who said that he would come back to church but that he didn't want to ride with the member who had lied about what the Bishop had said about him so we had to find him a different ride from London to Corbin for church and then we found out that Jackie is moving in a couple weeks so we probably won't be able to see him baptized and we hope that he'll continue with missionaries there and it was a big, long mess. And then at church yesterday that member talked to him and made things a little worse, but I think Jackie realizes that it's not the members, it's the gospel that's perfect and worth coming for. We had a really good lesson with him comparing other churches to our church and why other people choose their congregation and how we should choose the church we align ourselves with and he kept saying that "It's the word that's important, not the people, the money or the convenience." He seems pretty solid. Yesterday we fasted with him to help him quit smoking and he went the whole day without smoking a cigarette which is quite the miracle because he's been smoking since he was 9 years old and he's 31 now.
We had a really good visit with Judy on Tuesday. We got Sister Bowen and Sister Decker who are in the RS Presidency to come out with us which was really nice of them because it's an hour away from Corbin and Sister Decker lives a half hour up the mountain in Corbin so it's really an hour and a half for her. Judy LOVED having "friends" and said that when she was praying to find a church she also prayed to find friends and she feels like she's gotten a two-for-one in our Church. She told us that she finished the Book of Mormon and that night she woke up at 2 in the morning and had a long talk with God where she repented and then was told that she needs to be baptized. She's really awesome. She and her husband bought their property about 6 years ago and have been building a house ever since. She's about to finally get a kitchen installed so that she doesn't have to haul in water. They are completely off the grid which means that they produce their own energy from a natural gas well on their property so they don't have any electric bills and the don't have to pay for water and they don't have a mortgage. They're almost completely self-sufficient.
Willard is still the BYH of my life. We were going to go 4 days without seeing him but we ran into him 2 days in and he started getting teary-eyed saying that we can't do this to him again. He can't go this long without seeing us. Honestly, neither can I. I miss him if we go a day without seeing him. We taught him this week that when he was baptized, he wasn't baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God and so he had made a committment to God, but not a covenant with God. We went over good, better, best with him and told him that what he did was better than a lot of people, but that the best thing he could do was to be baptized by someone who had permission from God to do so. Later that week we talked to him about the difference between the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We talked to him about the Great Apostasyand the Restoration. He still wasn't getting it. We asked him if the man who baptized him had authority to do so. He said that he did. We asked how he knew that and he said that he was a good man who loved god and knew a lot about him and that he was sure that he had somehow gotten authority. Then, I got out a picture I have of John the Baptist physically laying his hands on Joseph Smith's head and then another picture with Peter, James and John. We explained how their authority led back to Jesus Christ. Then we told him how every priesthood holder in the Church can trace his line of authority back to Jesus Christ. Then we fasted with him. He had three things he wanted to fast for: the left side of his body is crippled because of his stroke and he can walk, but it's hard for him and he can't use his hand at all so he wants that to be healed, he wants to know why he is alive when he should have died twice in his life and then he wanted to know if he should be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by someone holding the priesthood authority of God (we sort of helped him come up with that last one...).
Yesterday, we visited him and he was reading in Alma 5 so we read it with him and then we broke our fast. It was a really, really good 24 hours in regards to Willard. I think he'll get his answer, I just hope that he'll be willing enough to acknowledge it. He got a haircut this week and his hair went from long and slicked back and curly at the bottom of his head to short and tidal waved like Papa-Elf's. It's adorable. We told him he looks like a Mormon and he smiled. Have I explained his smile to you? It's awesome. It's taken me a long time to figure out what it is because it's a little confusing. He wears dentures on the top of his mouth because he dipped for years and years. When you first see him you think that half of his top teeth are dentures and half aren't because one side of his mouth is nice, straight and white. The other side are all spaced out and a little crooked. BUT, when he talks, the WHOLE THING falls out of his mouth because he doesn't use glue. So, somehow, he has dentures that are straight and clean on one side and redneck on the other. It's awesome. He looks adorable when he smiles. When we were talking about baptism he asked what day we wanted him to be baptized if he was willing and we told him July 2nd. He stopped and got choked up. That's he and his wife's wedding anniversary. He misses her a lot. He talks about how similar I am to her. "Not the way you look, but the way you are. You're so much like Mary." Sister Ralph and I told him how we feel like she has accepted the gospel on the other side and is helping out in any way that she can to lead Willard to the church so that she can be baptized and sealed to him. We really do feel that way. He told us that he prayed us to him and I believe he did. This may sound prideful of me, but I think that he specifically prayed me here. He and I just have a real love for each other. Sister Ralph will tell you how depressed I get when we go too long without seeing Willard. We really were supposed to meet each other. The Lord sent him to me or maybe me to him, but we were supposed to meet. I know we were. If I go the rest of my mission without finding someone to teach (which I hope doesn't happen), I'll be content because I met Willard. He's the reason (or at least one of the reasons) I was called to the GKLM. He's the reason. I can't wait for you all to meet him.
Johnathan & Kaylee are doing well. Johnathan said the other day "Why can't you come over every day?" Haha. I'm trying to teach him how to juggle and trying to coach Kaylee how to do a round-off without actually doing one since I wear skirts all the time.
There's a bad flu that's going around here and last night Sister Ralph wasn't feeling too well so we decided to come in early so she could rest and hopefully nip it in the bud. She let me listen to this talk by an Elder Skouson (I think that's his name) that was given in the 80's about the meaning of the atonement. It was fascinating. I'll have to send you my notes. He talked about why it was necessary and physically why he had to do it the way he did it and how Heavenly Father couldn't take the cup from him and there really was no other way to make our eternal prospects possible. It was really, really amazing. Seriously. It has changed and answered so much for me.
Sister Ralph is really cool. She's pretty much Michael in girl form but a little different. The other day she was talking about her favorite smells and she told me that she loves the smell of skunks. I started gagging and screaming and calling her a liar but she's serious. She likes to smell them when we drive past them. It's disgusting. She's a great companion. She likes to work hard and doesn't like things to detract from our purpose as missionaries. She plays the organ and the piano beautifully. She also plays the flute. She always calls out slug bug and tries to guess when traffic lights are going to change. She's quiet and patient. She's very loving and kind. She blows her straw paper at me and thinks it's funny. She's very neat and tidy. She's seriously just like Michael. She even has a nose and so does Michael.
Word of the Week: "Went Right Through Me" It's actually a phrase of the week, I guess. The first time I heard it I had no idea what it meant. I thought it had to do with Mexican food or something. But it means that it made the person angry and made their blood pump faster. Jackie said it like 12 times when he was telling us about how one of Linda's kids was being disrespectful to him. "It just went right through me. It went right through me and he's lucky he aint 18 yet or he'd a paid fer it."
Extra Blessings: Sister Gossett and Lindsey. THANK YOU FOR THE PICTURES! I cannot get over Enzo and how fat he is. My favorite picture is the one of the three boys with Enzo in the middle. It's on my wall and I can't stop looking at it. Thank you!
Email Blessings: Nina. Thanks, Teen.
Happy Birthday, Lindsey and later this week, Nick. Happy Father's Day on Sunday, Dad! I love you and wish I could call you!
Hurray for Carly getting marriage clearance! I'll need tons of pictures!
It's awesome. Being a missionary is the best. Everyone should serve a mission. Go look up President Eyring's statement on being part of the "fellowship of the unashamed". That's how we all should be. My banner is clear. I love Christ and I love serving him. I love you all. The Church is TRUE! Share it!
Love, Sis Nelson