I really appreciate all that you do in sending me pictures so I can see how my amazing siblings are growing, and you are right that mom is the best looking. The photos are always the best part of the email...well besides dad’s jokes of course. Is everything all clear about our new media rules and blog, etc?
The weekly lesson for us: this week was a huge testimony of being where the Lord wants us to be at the right time...and also that plans are meant to be changed J…. As part of our responsibilities, we were able to be up in Kharkov this week, the other main city of our mission. It was wonderful traveling up there with a younger sister who we were taking to Kharkov to serve with a short-term missionary (a short-term missionary is a local person that serves as a temporary missionary for 2-4 weeks). Once we arrived we were able to be with the zone leaders for the night. I was able to be with Elder Stoker, a missionary who was in the MTC with me and is just a wonderful man that knows how to have fun, but keeps it spiritual at the same time. A few instances of being where the Lord wanted us to be:
It was a huge thing for me to see Elder Stoker’s Christ-like character in giving his food to a man on the streets with what we had just bought ourselves (reminds me of the Claypools back home). All of us should never forget that people around us are in need, spiritually, temporally and physically.
We were able to be in the right place at the right time for some Elders that were struggling and help them out. This was pretty important only because President all week was gone in Moscow for a Mission President seminar. Time after time, Elder Carley and I were just amazed at the placement of the issues in our paths...or rather that the Lord placed us in exactly the right place.
The week continued with us trying to be on exchanges with other missionaries to train them, and we ended up having urgent calls that caused us to run up to Sumy, a city at the northern-most part of the mission, and we purchased an apartment there (by the way, if you were wondering why I pulled out a larger amount of money this week it was because we had to pay a down payment on that missionary apartment, and due to the last-minute trip we had to make overnight, lack of money because of train ticket purchases, and lack of ability to get money from the Mission Office fast enough, we had to take desperate measures.) It was pretty funny that Elder Carley and I with a bit less sleep than usual were at the train station one night literally having to walk around so as to not fall asleep standing J we got caught up on our sleep eventually...but there were a few days that I was more tired than I have ever been in my life. With the apartments out of the way for the new missionaries, it was a huge relief. In the end, we were able to go on only 1.5 exchanges out of the whole 4 days we were up there. It was a huge privilege to be around Elder Zacherl again, my former German companion. He finished his mission this week and I was able to be with him his last few days before he goes home to Germany. What a blessing it was to be around the missionary that taught me how to be a missionary and also to see how much he was still going strong until the end of his two years. We had some incredible lessons together on the exchange that we did...and he is the missionary that I aspire to be like. We also had a bit of fun time on Friday going to one of the world's largest markets in Kharkov to buy...drum roll.. guess what………yes, ties! (so that would be a portion of the funds that I pulled out of my account as well). I got a “few” ties to say the least. Helped the economy there. The ties are amazing and good prices. And I have to wear a tie everyday anyway. Our plans continued to fall through once we got back to Donetsk of being able to go on exchanges due to some things that we had to solve, but in the end of it all, we were able to be where we needed to be at the right time.
This week I gained a testimony as a result of my prayers of faith: We were working pretty hard with the little time that we had to proselyte this week, opening our mouths everywhere we went. One night about 20 minutes before the days end, there was that small prompting that is often over looked to talk with the person that was walking towards us in her bright colored clothes. We did, trying to prove our dependability to the Lord, and exchanged numbers, teaching a bit about the Book of Mormon. The next day, she called us asking when we would meet which was pretty good that she did since I had honestly forgotten about her. We got a wonderful member on the first lesson, sat down with this woman and realized just how incredibly prepared she was. After teaching the message of the Restoration and relating the First Vision, we paused and let the Spirit continue to testify. In the silence she said: I believe this is true. The member then bore powerful testimony about how she also felt it was true from the beginning, but still asked God if it was true, receiving her personal answer that no one could take from her. This woman is just absolutely ready for the Gospel and will be a powerful member. It was a powerful moment to ask: "Let's say that you come to know from God that Joseph Smith really is a prophet of the Restoration, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Christ's church is again on the earth, would you want to become a member of that church?" She said yes. And then the next question was "Will you then be baptized to become a member of that church?" Again her answer, Yes.
This work is so rewarding and it really is real life. If we think about it, this is the life we are meant to live in our church callings and service on a mission...and in all reality, the "reality" that we live is just as real as the movies. There will come a day when the movie will end and we'll head out of the theatre of this life and into the next. I'm so grateful for the knowledge of God's plan for every one of us that allows us to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going; more importantly, this knowledge gives us motivation, direction, and actions to fulfill in this life to capitalize on the blessings that await us in the eternities. We are in the right place and this is our time to do the work of the Lord. The Savior said:
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)
Let us use the time we've been given to do what we came here to do. And if a person doesn't know what to do, that's what prayer and scriptures (and missionaries) are for. I know that He answers our prayers and gives us direction, or the "how" to fulfill His Holy Work.
Love you lots!