Monday, June 11, 2012
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
Well, I'm back!
It's all pretty crazy. It almost seems like the time I spent at home was one big dream or something. I was afraid that getting back into missionary mode would be hard but it hasn't been hard at all. I'm excited to be out here and I'm anxious to get some work done. I'm back in Salem with Sister Hunt. President told me that next transfer Sister Hunt will be leaving and I'll be getting another greenie to train. With the new training program the church has, trainers are supposed to be with their greenies for two transfers but President said that he's getting 4 greenies next transfer and he'll probably have me train my greenie for one and then he'll move me to another area with a different greenie to do the second transfer. Of course this is all his plan and it could change between now and then. But that's what he told me to expect. Things in Salem have changed a little bit here since the Sisters were in a trio and had to cover two areas (Salem and Charlestown). They did make progress with a referral we'd received named Robert. He's 17 and really likes what he's learning. He's in Jacob in the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. We have a goal date of July 14th but we'll have to get his parents' permission and get him comfortable with church attendance before then. We meet him outside his place because his parents don't really like the idea of us. They've told him he can meet with us, but it might be different when he tells them he wants to be baptized. He turns 18 in September and said if he has to wait, he'll just get baptized in September.
Now that I'm healthy,we're doing a lot of tracting. Sister Hunt told me that she expected that once I got back that I'd want to get to work and that at the time she thought to herself "bring it on!". After two days of tracting she said she wishes she could take that day back. She hasn't really ever done much tracting, I guess. But, we've gotten two new investigators from it. One, I don't think will pan out. But the other I'm excited about. He was outside when we came up to his house. We asked what he knew about the Book of Mormon and he said that one of his best friends "is really into the Mormon thing" and had told him all about the Book of Mormon. We asked what his friend's name was and he said it was Robert! Robert is so excited about the gospel that he won't shut up about it to his friend, Joey. So, we talked to Joey for an hour in his front yard about what we believe. He's 16 and Catholic. He started practicing and got baptized Catholic last year. He's one of the smartest people I've met out here. He's graduating high school early and wants to be an anthropologist. He loves history and religion and knows crazy details and facts about all sorts of things. He's home schooled because he got bullied so much in school. He's 16 and has had 20 surgeries already in his life. He's a walking miracle and shouldn't be alive. He said that's one of the main things that got him to believe in God. He has a slight figure, but he talks like he's an adult. He said that he'd like to learn more about our religion from an educational standpoint. Hopefully it will turn into a spiritual search. I'm optimistic it will because he said he'd see how far he could get in the Book of Mormon and be ready with questions for us next week.
President Woodbury has really been stressing talking to everyone we see. If we pass them on the sidewalk or see them on their way to their car. Anyone we see, we're supposed to talk to. There aren't many people in Salem so it's been a little difficult. But we've been doing it to anyone we can find and we got two investigators from it this week. The first is a young girl with two kids and a husband who says she wants to get back into church. The second one...
Let me tell you about the second one:
So, Sister Hunt and I were tracting a highway that has houses every once in a while. I didn't want to park on the side of the highway so we found a gas station and parked there and then walked until we could find a house. It's not very time efficient because it takes an hour to do 4 or 5 houses. But it's people that haven't been tracted before so they don't slam the door as much. On our way back, Sister Hunt had to go to the bathroom so she asked if we could go into the gas station. While she was in there I saw a guy customer sitting and eating some chips looking out the window. He had on a cowboy had, some jeans and a white shirt. His face sort of looked like Jackie Sturgill's (from Corbin) and I was a little nervous but since he was the only person I could see in the store, I figured I'd talk to him about the church. I sort of have to psych myself up for these things because it's scary for me to start talking to someone I don't know. I just have to jump in feet first without pausing or I lose my nerve. So, I said a quick prayer, without looking at much but his face and walked up to him and started talking. As soon as I stopped talking and could breathe again, I took the time to take a better look at him. His jeans weren't really jeans, his shirt was a button up shirt and his hat wasn't a cowboy hat, it was a straw hat. I glanced outside, wanting to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing and I found what I was looking for: the only other vehicle in the parking lot was a horse and buggie... !!!!!!!!!!
[AMISH!!!!!!!!!!!! This guy is Amish! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Breathe. Breathe. Focus on what he's saying. Don't freak out. It's only your dream to baptize and Amish person. No big deal. Here's this guy that's talking to you. and is now saying he'll read the Book of Mormon, and is now giving you his address for a follow-up appointment, who just happens to be Amish. Act normal. Respond like a human being. Write down his information. Shake his hand. Vow to never wash that hand again. Watch him walk away. Hold in your screams. Hold them in. Wait for Sister Hunt. Walk to the car. Open the door. Sit in the car. Close the door. OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE AN AMISH INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE AN AMISH INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
I could barely drive I was so happy. Jake Schmidt! My Amish investigator! I know it's hard to believe that I didn't realize he was Amish till I was talking to him, but I think the Lord shielded my understanding so that I would talk to him. (And to be fair he didn't have a nasty neck beard like most do.) Because usually when I see an Amish person, I hide behind something and watch them like a creeper. I don't know if I would have been brave enough to talk to him if I'd realized who he was beforehand. I'm so glad Sister Hunt has such a small bladder! I'm so glad there's nowhere to park on the 56! I'm so glad there's Amish people! I'm so glad I'm a missionary!
Don't worry. I don't have my hopes up. Honestly, I don't. Not any more than I usually do. Well, maybe just a little more than usual. But, still. I'm being realistic. Not every investigator gets baptized. Not every investigator likes to listen after one lesson. Not every investigator reads the Book of Mormon like they say they will. But some DO! And I'm praying he's one of them. I wonder if he's on that Amish break that they get to have when they're 18 or so. Because he didn't have the beard. And he talked to me. Either way, I'm really grateful that the Lord put all of those things into place so that Jake Schmidt could hear the news that Christ's Church has been restored and that the proof is in a wonderful, powerful, life-changing book called The Book of Mormon. Ah, Jake. You're my most favorite Amish person I've ever met.
Naturally, I had to call Sister Ford as soon as we got home and rub it in her face that my "Baptize the Amish" campaign hasn't died despite her attempts to quell it's bright spirit. When I told her she said, "All your dreams are coming true," in an semi-enthusiastic voice, which means a lot coming from her. Ok, ok. I have to move on.
Sister Vonnahme was so excited to see me on Tuesday that she actually waited outside for me which made me feel bad because we told her an estimated time we'd be there and we were about fifteen minutes later than that. But she didn't mind. She's such a sweetheart. She and Brother Vonnahme are still my favorites. Brother Vonnahme just ordered this set of four books by Cleon Skouson on the Book of Mormon that I really want and I told him since they call me their adopted granddaughter that when he dies he has to will me those books.
We spoke in church on Sunday. It was a nice welcome back gift: "Welcome back! You're speaking on Sunday!" I spoke on how we shouldn't avoid change or challenges. The only things we should avoid are sin and stagnation. We're here on earth for change. The baptism of water is only the cleansing. We need to be cleansed AND refined to make it back into the presence of God.
Friday night we got permission to help with a thing called Relay for Life which is a big fundraiser for fighting cancer. Once it got dark they had a presentation for people who have battled cancer. It was held at the high school football field/track since that's like the biggest place to meet in Salem. They did something really cool in the presentation. They read a list of people who have survived cancer followed by a list of people who have passed away from cancer. They had a white paper bag for each name that was read and the bags lined the inside track where it meets the grass. As each name was read, they'd light a candle inside of the corresponding bag that represented the name. By the end of the list (which took about an hour to read) the only light we had was from those bags. There were so many. It's shocking just how many people have been affected by the disease. After that ceremony, people went to the football field and over 100 floating lanterns were lit and sent into the air in memory of loved ones. A family in the ward had about six and each lantern takes two people to send off so they asked Sister Hunt and I to take one of theirs and light it and send it off. It was one of the most beautiful experience I've ever had. looking up into the sky and seeing those lanterns lights it and float up and up and away, like stars. It was magical. It made me think of Tangled. And it was Friday night and I loved knowing that my Pinegar family was all on the other side of the country having a Tangled night, too. The fundraiser didn't expect to do as well as years previous because of the tornado and how so many people have donated their money to that this year. But the lady in charge of the event this year is in our ward and she told us that they raised over $130,500 which is $20,000 more than they've ever had. It was really a neat, spiritual experience.
Speaking of spiritual, President and Sister Woodbury are so amazing. I got to spend Monday night with them and all the new missionaries that just got here from the MTC. We had a great testimony meeting and the feeling in the mission home is so calm and warm. I'm so blessed to be in the GKLM.
Sorry I never wrote while I was at home. The long and short of it is that the Lord performed a miracle and I was able to have my tumor removed and return to full health and be back in the mission field within two months. I'm so, so, so blessed. Thank you for all of your prayers and support and love. Sorry this is jumbled. It's been a very busy week and I've tried to fit the most important things in.
Extra Blessings: None.
Quotes of the Week:
1) "Bran Muffins: Now there's a moving experience."
2)"Why would a toothless man have a pack of gum?" "There's a reason it's called "gum" and not "teeth"."
Missions are awesome! Tons and tons of blessings! The Church is TRUE! Share it!