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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

President and Sister Alexander - Love Them Already

Experience #1
This last Monday, we were able to go over to the C's for dinner for the first time since I got here.  We would go over and play around and things, but rarely is their whole family home at one time.  So we took advantage of it and Sister C made this amazing chicken Caesar salad and watermelon.  And we had homemade ice cream for dessert.  She has this amazing device thingy that you freeze the bowl for about 24 hours, put all the ingredients in it, and it sits there for about 20 minutes and just mixes it all into ice cream!!!  I want one!  It was so good!  But the best part was the message that we shared after dinner.  We were shorter on time than we had expected because Sister H also cut Sister C’s hair.  (I mentioned that she is a hair stylist... right?)  Well, anyway.  We were going to teach the Restoration, but we decided to share Mosiah 14 with them and talk about the Atonement.  It was really special to hear from some very strong and humble members how the Atonement has affected them and their lives and how much they love and honor the Savior because of his act of selflessness.  I could feel the power in the room.  What made it even better is the inspired invitation that I left with them.  I asked them to pray every single night, but for the next few nights, not to make it an ordinary prayer.  I asked them to include a thank you.  A thank you to Heavenly Father for the divine plan that He has for each and every one of us and for the Savior and the Atonement that we have been blessed with in order to return to live with him someday and be spotless in their presence.  This is something I tried one night on my mission.  I was just saying my nightly prayer, and I decided to thank him for the Atonement.  If you haven't done so yourselves, you may want to try it.  That is one of the most amazing personally spiritual experiences that I have ever had.  My whole body was just filled with gratitude, warmth, power, love, etc.  I can't even really explain it.  So each of you should definitely try it.

Experience #2
That actually leads me to another experience we had this week.  I am going a little out of order, but that is okay.  We have an investigator named N that we are working with, but last week we were having the absolute HARDEST time getting in contact with her.  Turns out that she was going through something really tough, and it didn't help that there has been some discussion about religion in her home since we have met with her and her fiancé that isn't exactly positive.  She agrees with everything we are saying, but he doesn't.  So that's been hard.  But we felt inspired to stop by one morning this week.  She let us right in and asked if we can keep meeting when her fiancé is at work.  We told her that would be great.  Just as we were about to start the next discussion, he walked in and started talking to her.  Which would have been fine, but he wouldn't stop!  It was so frustrating.  So we asked her if it would be okay if we came and got her later in the day with a member and had the lesson at their house.  She said, "We can do that??"  It was so sweet.  She really wanted to meet and was so frustrated that he wouldn't let her talk to us.  So that's what we did.  We texted the C's and set it up for later that night at their house.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We read 2 Nephi 31 with her and then discussed each of the five points.  The three that brought up the most discussion were repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost.  She said that she does want to repent and forget all the bad things that have happened, and that she wants to follow the example of the Savior and be baptized.  But she said she was concerned about having the gift of the Holy Ghost 24/7.  I asked her why, and she said that she is afraid that he is going to warn her of something, and she may do it and fall on her face because of it.  I was so humbled by that.  Because I have felt that.  As I'm sure we all have.  Yes - we do have him with us always.  And yes, he does warn us before we are going to make a mistake or do something we probably shouldn't.  But if we do happen to ignore the prompting, we have been given the opportunity to repent.  I told her that it happens to everyone.  And that it shouldn't necessarily be a fear, but a warning.  We reassured her that there is nothing that she couldn't repent of because our Heavenly Father is an all-loving, all-knowing, and all-forgiving Father if we just follow the steps and guidelines that he has given us to return to him.  She got really emotional.  At that point, I asked if she had prayed about the Book of Mormon and what answer she got.  Her answer was amazing.  She said that from the very moment she met us, she felt no need to pray about it.  She had prayed about it, yes.  But she got the same answer that she knew all along.  She said that when we come over, we bring a spirit with us that is noticeably different, and that part of that spirit leaves when we do.  She knew that if someone can bring that spirit, power, and peace with them, they must know the truth.  How amazing is that?  She gave me goosebumps.  All I could think is, "You're so right.  How is there even a doubt that what we share is true.  You don't only hear it, learn it, or know it, but you FEEL it."  She is amazing.  Please pray that she will be able to come to church this week.  We are going to have to move her baptism date back because she hasn't been to church yet, but that's okay.  And yes, we have a rule in our mission that they must attend church three times before they can be baptized.  So please, please pray for that.  :)

Experience #3
This week at District Meeting, it was a little bit different.  The Alexander's were coming up to Eden for interviews, so they told Elder C that the meeting was going to be slightly interrupted.  But here is how everything went down.  The Danville Elders had their interview at 9, so we asked our ride to pick us up at about 7:45 so that we could all be there about 15-30 minutes early.  Responsible of us, no?  Well, we got there about 8:30.  Perfect.  :)  We walk in, see the Eden Elders, and start talking.  Suddenly, Elder L gets a call from the zone leaders saying that the Alexander's were going to be about an hour late.  They got the destinations confused and were running really late.  But that's okay.  It wasn't going to put them that far off.  But then about 15 minutes later, the zone leaders showed up and said that the Alexander's had made it all the way to Winston-Salem before they realized that they were supposed to be in Eden in the morning and Winston in the afternoon.  So they were running really behind.  So we just visited until the Caswell Elders got there, and we started District Meeting.  About 5 minutes in, President Alexander walked in feeling simply terrible.  We all told him that it didn't matter much to us because he was still getting used to everything and none of us had any drastically important appointments to get to after the meeting.  So we went on with it and he started interviews in another room.  Elder C gave an amazing training about the Book of Mormon.  Part of it was the "flea theory."  Apparently it has been proven that if you put fleas in a jar, they are going to try to jump out.  But if the lid is there, they will only try to jump a couple of times before hitting the lid, coming back down, and getting discouraged.  After the lid has been on for a while, if you take it off, the fleas will assume they still can't get out.  So they will only jump a little below the lid.  He compared this to our investigators, as well as us.  If we try to jump for our dreams and don't get there immediately, we hit the lid, and get discouraged.  But he related how we, "the fleas", need a springboard to get out of that jar.  What do you think that springboard is?  The Book of Mormon.  Only the Book of Mormon contains the truths and evidences necessary to "spring" us out of our discouragement and help us to KEEP MOVING FORWARD!  It was great!  I am now trying to get to know the Book of Mormon better and better.  Not only for my mission, but to help myself and others when I return from my mission as well.  It is difficult, but I know that with the help of my Heavenly Father, I will definitely get there.

Experience #4
When it was my turn for interviews, I got to go in and talk to President Alexander for the first time face-to-face.  He is such a spiritual man!  He was asking me questions like, "What has the hardest thing on your mission been up to this point?", "How did you overcome that or how are you currently overcoming it?", "What have you learned most on your mission?", "What is your real purpose as a missionary?"  He is very concerned about the spirit of the law.  He wanted to know about my family, what I hope to accomplish on my mission, etc.  As we talked, he said the following things that he wanted me to let you all know.  He said:
1. "Your father sounds like an amazing man who has firmly rooted your family in the gospel."
2. "Your mother sounds like a very inspired person who is close to the spirit."
3. "Tell your family I say that you are an amazing missionary who has and will accomplish wonderful things."
It is not word for word what he said, but very close to it.  I just love him!  When the interview was over, and Sister H walked in, I got a chance to talk to Sister Alexander as well.  She and I are interested in all of the same things.  She is very interested in service, and 100% interested in Family History.  She said that my insights on both were inspired and she kept quoting me.  She said if I think of anything with how we can better use family history in missionary work, to let her know as soon as I can. So mom - If you have any ideas on how we can better use family history in missionary work, please email me back and I will pass everything on to Sister Alexander.  Thanks!  :)  I love them both so much and cannot wait to continue working with each of them to further the work here in this, the greatest mission in the world!

Experience #5
We had exchanges this week.  Sister S came to Danville this time.  It was so much fun and very disheartening at the same time.  We got yelled at multiple times by some less-actives, had to drop multiple people, and found no one.  But I did learn a valuable lesson about optimism from her.  She is so good at just looking at the bright side and not letting a day like that get in her way.  I just love her.  We nicknamed it "The Drop Exchange."  But we did have some highlights.  We got to go to the Caldwell's for dinner, we took lots of pictures, and we just talked about everything.  :)

Experience #6
We went over to teach Sister G again this week.  She was telling us this time about how she wants to set new goals for herself in her life and how she wants to be happy.  She was looking at her original goals for her life and was kind of sad that she hadn't obtained them, but set new ones that she can obtain.  We showed her the Mormon message, "Moments That Matter Most."  (Which happens to be my new favorite Mormon Message, by the way).  We shared with her that yes, she is more than welcome to set new goals.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that she should throw the old ones away either.  We told her that Heavenly Father wants her to be happy.  Not just settle for the best she thinks she could get.  She started crying and told us that we were right.  She wants to turn her life around and she said that she made a vow to herself and to Heavenly Father that starting on her birthday next month, she is going to come to church every Sunday.  Because that is where she remembers being the most happy in her life.  I would like to share part of her conversion story with you because it is amazing.  She said that one day, years ago, she was sitting on the couch with her newborn son, and her husband walked in and said that he was leaving her for another woman.  She was heartbroken.  She said she didn't know what she was going to do.  She remembers sitting with her son on her lap and reading the Bible just crying and crying.  She said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to lead her in the direction that she needed to go.  All of the sudden, she and her son both stopped crying and were just peaceful.  They went to bed that night, and she woke up the next morning, and got in the car.  She said she didn't know where she was headed, but she got in the car ready to go wherever she was lead.  She said her car basically drove to the church building.  She said she had driven down that road many, many times, and had never noticed the building.  She parked, walked in, and asked what she could do to join the church.  And the rest was history.  She has such a strong testimony about the gospel.  That's why we need her back.  So please pray that we will be able to get her coming back to church as well.  :)

Those were the highlights of my week.  It has been a pretty good one.  :)

Sounds like you had an amazing trip to Washington!  I am so glad!  He is going to be one amazing missionary, that's for sure!  I can relate to the "all night on the toilet" thing... trust me.  ;)  I wish I could've seen Art in the Park.  It sounds like so much fun.  Ooohh... J-Dawgs.  That sounds good!  Whatever... I don't believe the whole "if you knew me 4 years ago" thing.  I always knew he was going to go.  But I also don't doubt that he was a "rabble rouser."  But I do agree with everything you said about two Irwin's as missionaries in the south.  What are they going to do?  How will they survive???  WE ARE GOING TO BAPTIZE EVERYONE!  Mwahahaha  haha JK ;)  Yes - "Lethal that close in proximity" describes the situation perfectly!  :)

That is soooooo funny what parker said about the 2 things he knows and the one he doesn't.  We laughed really hard.  Because... true.  We were actually talking about that with the Zone Leaders and Eden Elders on Sunday.  Dear Johns and Dear Janes are a VERY real thing!  #truth

The area is going well.  We are working with our investigator, N a lot.  But past that, we are trying to find new people to teach.  We aren't progressing with that too far.  The problem is, too, our area is so large, that if we find someone, more than likely they live about 20 miles from us.  And we just don't have the time or the miles.  Because we are at a dead point with member splits too.  So we are working on elevating everything in the ward again so that we can elevate the work.  I will include more of how the work is going in a hand-written letter so that I can be more specific.  Can you email me specific questions about the work that you would like answered?  That will make it easier for me to tell you everything that I can.  :)

We went to the river walk again, took more pictures.
Then we went to O'Kelly's with Sister T and her daughter for lunch.
Then we went to the Antique store on Main Street and I had to resist buying more original Disney records.  These were slightly more expensive.  They were Cinderella, Winne the Pooh, and Mousketeers.  If you happen to want any of them, tell me and I will go get them.  But I didn't because... poor.
Then we went grocery shopping.  Then emails.
Next week we have district activity.  So we are going to have a barbecue, play board games, and just relax.  It's going to be great.  And we are going to the Caswell Elder's mansion because they have a HUGE backyard.  So we are excited.

But... challenge accepted.
President Uchtdorf has said, "Astronomers have attempted to count the number of stars in the universe.  One group of scientists estimates that the number of stars within range of our telescopes is 10 times greater than all the grains of sand on the world's beaches and deserts."
Sooooo.... I LOVE YOU TO THE POINT PAST THE POINT THAT THEY HAVE GOTTEN TO THAT SAYS WE HAVE 10 TIMES GREATER THAN ALL THE GRAINS OF SAND ON THE WORLD'S BEACHES AND DESERT'S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) ;) ;)  #gospel #prophets #sand #beach #trytobeatthat  ;)  Bottom Line:  I love you A LOT!

I will talk to you next week.  :)

Ash <3

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