Monday, February 27, 2012

Honk If You Love Liberty

 There's this Liberty Tax place that pays this woman to stand out on the sidewalk near an intersection, dressed as the Statue of Liberty and hold a sign that says, "Honk if you <3 Liberty". Not that unusual. But this lady is. She has long, bushy hair that used to be bleached blonde, probably in the summer time. So she has six inches of dark black roots and ends that are frayed and orange. She doesn't wear the crown right so the spikes don't form in an arch but droop and curl over her eyes. Most times that we pass her she has the sign between her legs and is digging under her gown for something in her pants pockets or drinking hot chocolate or texting or talking on the phone. It's not the ideal image of Lady Liberty. But she makes me smile and while I don't like taxes all that much, I love liberty, so I honk when I see her.

We had a great lesson with one of our Forever Investigators named Wende this week. When you have gone through all the lessons several times, you kind of just start making up lessons of your own or reading with the investigator or doing whatever the Spirit prompts you to do. This week we read Alma 24 with her and talked about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and how they would rather die than commit a sin that they'd repented of. We challenged her to pray about something that she could give up and "bury" and she immediately said that she wanted to give up alcohol. She said that for the last couple years she's been meeting with the missionaries she always thought it was ridiculous that we had rules saying we couldn't drink but a couple weeks ago she got a really sore throat and couldn't drink her nightly glass of wine and she said even though she was sick she felt a lot better from not drinking. She felt like the Lord was gently pushing her in the direction of giving it up and that the lesson was exactly what she needed to finally decide to quit.

 There's this fireside that President and Sister Woodbury put on at the mission home on the last Sunday of every month for investigators and recent converts. Since I've been down in   Corbin for most of my mission, I've never had the chance to come up for any of them because it's a three hour drive to Louisville. Now it's only a one hour drive so we can go if we can get a ride and get a recent convert or investigator to come with us. Last night was the first time I've been able to go and it was really nice. Usually the speaker is a convert and then after the speaker they open up the floor for testimonies from the investigators/converts. It was a really neat experience and a great experience for our recent convert. President and Sister Woodbury actually were the speakers this time and decided to tell conversion stories from their ancestors. One of Sister Woodbury's ancestors was the daughter of Parley P Pratt. She used to fall asleep between Parley and the Prophet Joseph when he came over to talk and she'd sometimes end up sprawling herself across the two men. She said that absentmindedly Joseph would sometimes start playing with her ringlets and twisting them between his fingers. She talked about how much she loved the prophet. Then Sister Woodbury said that that girl's granddaughter used to tell stories about pioneers and travel around Utah to speak and she'd always end by shaking everyone's hand. That granddaughter was Sister Woodbury's grandma. She ended the night by shaking everyone's hand and saying what her grandma said, just one person farther: "You just shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who shook hands with the Prophet Joseph." 
It was cool. It made him seem a lot closer for some reason. He really did exist. He shook hands with someone who shook hands with someone who shook hands with Sister Woodbury who shook hands with me. Basically I'm a celebrity now and will shake hands with you when I get home for a small, but reasonable fee. Our recent convert's biggest hero is Joseph Smith so it was a perfect night to bring him. This man's name is Brother Hobson. I've mentioned him before. He's trying to get some names ready to take to the temple for his dad and other people that have passed away. And ever since he has, Satan has pulled out all the stops to try and keep him from getting there. It's ludicrous. Brother Hobson keeps calling us and saying, "I wouldn't believe if I wasn't living it." He's just had one thing after another after another. The latest thing was that he had this woman he was CRAZY about run into him and ask him to go drinking with her and then spend the night afterwards. You have to understand that he's a recent convert and that is something he would have loved to do a year ago. It was very hard for him to turn her down. Then she showed up later that night on his doorstep, drunk and wanting to come inside. He said that the only thing that kept him from letting her in was thinking about everything that Joseph Smith went through for his testimony and knowing that if Joseph could endure all of that, he could pass up on this woman. We were so proud of him. And when he got to shake Sister Woodbury's hand we were so excited for him. Afterwards we asked him how he felt and he said, "That was cool, but it wasn't the first time I've shook Joseph's hand. We were best friends in the pre-existence." Haha. That could have been true, except neither of them had bodies in the pre-existence so the most they did was probably air-five each other.

We tried to visit this less-active lady we'd never met the other night and when I called to see if it was alright if we come out to her house she said, "Oh no, Honey! There's wild animals out here. You can only come in the daytime." Two days later when we got to her house, the driveway of which we passed probably five times, was a cabin buried deep in the trees. She told us about the bobcats and coyotes and wolves and snakes and foxes and raccoons. I mean, this lady said they literally WON'T leave their house after dark. It was nuts.

We were eating at a member family's house and the husband and wife were telling us about their love story and the Sister said, "When he asked me to marry him I threw up. Seriously." I was like, "You threw up?" "I was nervous. I knew it was coming all day and hadn't been able to eat much and then he took me on this date but never fed me so when he finally asked me, I threw up." How romantic. Haha.

By the way, the lady at the computer next to mine keeps falling asleep. Her head will slowly 
 start to droop forward in increments until finally her nose hits one of the keys on her keyboard and she wakes up and knocks something off the table. She had to climb under my feet to get her pen a couple seconds ago. It was awkward. She looks exhausted. It's sad but funny.

Brother Winslow came to church again this week and the Vonnahmes usually sit with him but they were sick so I sat with him because he's blind and needs help with the Sacrament and he can hardly hear so he just needs help. There was a youth speaker who is this boy that doesn't look twelve, but thinks he's 25. In the middle of his talk Brother Winslow leaned over to me and tried to whisper, but loudly said, "That little girl sounds like she's about 12 years old!" Haha. I died. I said, "She's not a girl, but she is 12." It was awesome.

I think Luke is my favorite Gospel. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure. Luke has all these tender details that prick my heart in a unique way. I love reading it. I also love Jesus the Christ. How did Talmage walk around with a brain like his? It must have hurt to have so much knowledge and that vocabulary. I borrowed an thick Oxford Dictionary from Brother Vonnahme and there are words he uses that aren't even in there. I didn't understand why the Church approved this 
 book as one of four books we missionaries are allowed to read outside of the scriptural cannon. I thought it would be a good book, but nothing to extraordinary. This book is insane. Every page tells you more about the Savior than you've ever realized. Every page makes non-believers look so blind. I don't know how he does it, but I love it. The Savior has literally been given life in my thoughts and my feelings because Talmage has brought him to life. He takes what I read from the scriptures and adds context and fact and historical information and pulls details out about the personality and the love of Christ that my reading hasn't been able to penetrate on its own. I love reading it. And I love the big words he uses. And the notes at the end of each chapter are fascinating. It's not light reading and it's not something you can take with you on a vacation and read in a couple days. But the benefits and the rewards of reading it are impacting me like crazy.


Something else that has opened my eyes this last couple weeks is a talk that both Mom and Dad individually felt inspired to send me. Unbeknownst to each other they individually sent it to me and it really has changed the way I look at repentance and the Atonement. I don't know if we can ever get a firm grasp on the Atonement. It seems like I learn something new about it every time I study. I know people recommend talks a lot and whenever people recommend them to me I skim through them and think they're nice and maybe this talk won't affect you all the way it's affecting me, but I have to give you the link just in case. You know how you can hear something over and over again but for some reason when you hear it the 1,000th time it clicks. It's like a whole new piece of information. You've been shown and told this over and over again, but it's so new to you when you finally get it. I've started seeing my goals differently because of this talk. Christ already conquered all of my sins. He paid for them. I don't repent to try and pay Him back. I can't pay Him back. What He asks of us isn't to pay Him back. It's to make of ourselves what we can't if we're weighed down with sin. I used to think that trying to reach heaven was trying to somehow get me with all my faults and my weaknesses to somehow be allowed into heaven by the grace of God. That's not the case. What I'm supposed to do is do away with my faults and my weaknesses and become someone that is welcomed into heaven, not allowed in against its better judgment. It's about more than cleaning, it's about refining.

Not to be bossy or anything, but if you have the chance, you should feed the missionaries. We sent around a calendar in Relief Society yesterday for the month of March and out of roughly 20 people we got two dinners. I'm sure you're all busy, but it's nice to be let into members' homes and fed and interact with families. No judgments or anything, it's just a thought.

Carly is getting married on Saturday! I hope everything goes perfectly. I wish I could be there!

Extra Blessings: Hayley & Otis
Quote of the Week: "I like you, but I'm not going to die for you."

Lent starts today. 40 days till Easter is here.


Sis Nelson

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