Well this has been an exciting week… We have the car back! Last Monday was our last P-day on bikes. Whew! No more falling over with groceries… Thank goodness! We finished up our Mission 40 Day Fast on the 20th. It was bitter-sweet… But more on that later.
On Tuesday we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders. I got to spend a day with Sister Kempton… She’s nice… She sings really well and has mastered the “sister missionary voice”. Maybe that means I need to be more consecrated since I feel like I still sound like myself. Or just a weird southern hick. I don’t know. But we had a good time and were able to contact a lot of people! I’m super excited to work with more people this week.
Wednesday was the best day ever! We got to go to the temple (: It really is the most beautiful temple! It’s so unique. I love it sooo much. But we got to go with our whole zone. Our zone isn’t very big though… So it was nice. I think it’s been about 6 months since I’ve been. If y’all haven’t seen the new video… You’re missing out!
On Thursday we had dinner with a family who probably eats better than anyone else on earth. I had the yummiest dark grey soup! It was blended up mushrooms with a cashew base… You think it sounds gross, and it looked like gutter water, but it was seriously soooo good! We also had “healthy kool-aid”. It was dried up strawberry bits, kind of like herbal tea, but without all the gross leaves and crap. It was seriously so good. It’s called, “London Fruit and Herb”. Order it on amazon! It was good… with some stevia in it!
On Friday (wow. I’m flying through this week!) we had our zone meeting. It was also our first day back in the car… We had to drive 20 minutes to zone meeting. We nearly died. We were going so fast! Wow! My own driving made me sick. We have decided we will definitely be on the bikes, except for pday, Friday meetings, and rain. annnnd it’s been misting/raining a lot (lovely humidity!) so we’ve been using the car. It’s super weird! But for zone lunch we had pupusas. Aka: heaven. One of the Spanish elders have an investigator who has a little pupusaria (don’t quote me on that spelling…) and it was the best thing ever! It was this sketchy little hole in the wall, didn’t look safe, didn’t look sanitary… and we only got a little sick! (: it was seriously so good. I think we could risk upset stomachs again.
We also saw Monika for a little on Friday night. She and Nona were going out of town so we went to see her quickly. She was telling us about how she finds strength through the Lord, and in the morning she plays a CD that helps her. “Let me play it for you”, “Uh, maybe another time (ah! apostate music!) We should probably get going…” “I’ll just play the beginning real quick for you” “Uh, oh, okay…” *looks for song track… starts to play…* “OH LORD, MY GOOOOOOD! WHEN I IN AWESOME WONDEEEEEER! CONSIDER ALLLL! THE WORLDS THY HANDS HAVE MAAAAADE!” *Monika bursts into tears* Whoa! It’s “How Great Thou Art”! and she likes it! She started sobbing and telling us how much she loves reverent hymns but the church she goes to is like a rock band. Now, mind you, this is all rather interesting… She always tells us how much she loves her church and how she doesn’t want to immediately change. She’s been going there for 4 years. One of the things she said she loved about it was the music. Turns out, she doesn’t really like it. So we had the pleasure of telling her that song is one of the most popular hymns at our church, among many other beautiful reverent hymns that worship our Heavenly Father. She just cried and cried. So we’re pretty excited! She also told us how people at her church never say hi to her, and how she felt so welcome at our activities cause everyone talked to her. She is going to LOVE church. We just need to get her there! We also decided that since she’s a 72 year old German lady, who probably won’t be very critical of our voices, we will sing a hymn for her at the end of every lesson. Whoa – stepping out of my comfort zone!
Saturday was AMAZING. We had dinner with a less active family (who’s officially active, as of yesterday!). Their family quit coming to church for about 10 months after they moved here. Well, two Sundays ago they came and the mom, Sandra, cried and cried about how she is ready to come back and that her visiting teachers saved her. So we visited her on Tuesday, she invited us for dinner on Saturday – our only open day this week! – and she just glowed with happiness. Well Saturday morning she informed us that she met a lady and invited her for dinner. Wow! came to church once, heard talks on rescuing others, and she’s already doing missionary work?! It was amazing. So we had a nice dinner with a nonmember who just adopted a little boy (Sandra and her husband adopted their son as well!) and found out she wants to meet more moms in the area. Uhh, perfect! Summerwood is a boom town of young families! It’s crazy stuff.
After dinner we went to a fireside. Have y’all heard about/seen the movie, “The Saratov Approach”? It’s apparently incredible. It’s about 2 elders serving in Russia who were abducted for a week and held ransom. It happened about 13 years ago. Everyone has been in an uproar about it! They talk about it all the time. Well, one of the elders who was kidnapped came to Summerwood and spoke! Elder/Brother Travis Tuttle. WOW. It was amazing. He shared some pretty wild stories. Our mission might get to watch it (the Crawford’s loved it!) so we’re hoping we’ll see it. It just amazed me… He talked a lot about how they did all they could to show love to their captors. He and the other missionary worked a lot with the movie producer and so it’s all REALLY accurate. He said he’s amazed at how real it is; seeing his experiences play out on screen. I wish I could explain and share the stuff he shared, but I know it won’t be the same… It made me so thankful for the safety and experiences I’ve had on my mission! But he’s the one who said, “Don’t live, then die. Live until you die”. and the reason he says that is because while they were being held captive they came to the realization… no one survives a kidnapping. Today the statistic stands that about 4% of people taken are killed. Why? Because they either don’t get what they want, or they do get what they want but still have to dispose of the evidence that it was them. So go back 13 years… still not so good. But he talked about how they decided that they would do all they could each day to live. Every time their captors came into the room they would take their hand, put it on their own heart, and say to them, “Do you feel that? I love you brother”. He knew at some point, he felt in his heart, that he would die, but he was okay. He wasn’t giving up on surviving, just accepting that he needed to do all he could to live UNTIL he died. Not just… “okay, I’m alive but feel half dead. Can’t they end it now?” They did all they could to live each day the best they could and survive. He talked about being 100% committed. 99% won’t cut it. You have to be willing to step up to whatever is put in front of you. He and the other elder were good elders; obedient, worked hard each day… yet here they were. They found themselves becoming 100% recommitted to the Lord, 100% recommitted to helping each other, 100% recommitted to loving every single person around them… You can’t give up on anything or anyone. Wow – I wish I could tell more… I don’t even know how to put it into words! Go see the movie. It’s everyone says it’s amazing, the experiences he shared with us were beyond incredible… Major faith building.
On Sunday we had some really great talks in sacrament on enduring trials. Brother Boots said something that impressed me… Well, first of all, he and his wife have been married more than 10 years and they haven’t been able to have children. They’ve tried everything, doctors don’t know what’s wrong, tried to adopt but everything fell through… They don’t know why the Lord won’t bless them with that joy. He said he finally came to a realization… It’s not that Heavenly Father doesn’t want them to have kids, it’s that He has something for them to learn that only this experience will teach them. He’s GOD! He can teach us anything! If He had another resource, wouldn’t He use it instead of depriving other souls of coming into a strong LDS family? He talked a lot about how they’ve taken ‘heat’ from the LDS community over the years. People ask questions all the time, people talk down to them for not having kids… It’s been a struggle on all fronts. However, Heavenly Father is in control. So that idea just really set with me… That of all the trials we could face in life, the ones we have are because it’s literally the only resource Heavenly Father has to teach us what we need to learn. We would never learn the correct lesson or principle if we went through something’s different. So it made me appreciate my struggles… Heavenly Father doesn’t sit up there and laugh and gets ready for the next big one. He probably feels great sorrow watching us go through pain, wishing we could learn another way… But we have become stronger so we can be like Him.
“Faith without works is dreaming, works without faith is drudgery, but faith and works together is destiny” – Harold B. Lee
I know that we have some serious trials ahead of us, that people won’t always want to listen to us, that our investigators won’t always progress… but that all things are possible if we have faith. Moroni 7:35-37… Miracles have not ceased! We can do incredible things if we want to.
I miss and love y’all so much! Thanks for all y’all do!
—- Sister Stockinger