Wow, this week flew by!
Monday-Friday-- We had an awesome lesson with Salem at the Huff's! We taught the Plan of Salvation and it went really well. Since we couldn't drive Salem and he couldn't get a ride, he followed behind us on his bike! He's a champion!!!
We had exchanges with Sister Kurtz, Casto, and Mauldin! It was a crazy exchange, but it was super fun being with Sister Kurtz for the last time! :)
Exchange lunch at Fabulous Burger!
We had really great lessons with Salem, Arianna, and Brian. They are all progressing well! The lesson with Brian was at Sondra and Mike's and it went SO WELL! Sondra asked inspired questions and testified! She's the best missionary ever!!! It was sooo rewarding seeing them talk with Brian and testify of the Gospel. Tender mercy. :)
One afternoon before dinner, we were trying a few doors of people we have met before, but no one was answering or interested. So we were like jokingly, but seriously running in the direction of where we felt the spirit was taking us. We saw a man outside and ran to go talk to him and we started teaching him our message and he seemed like he wouldn't accept it at first, but after we invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon he totally accepted! He said maybe to being baptized, so we resolved his concern and then invited him to prepare to be baptized on a specific date and he accepted! He's super legit!!! He was telling us he doesn't like going to church because he feels like it's just a bunch of man-made corporations to gain money.. but after we explained the Restoration and how everything is volunteer in the church, he was impressed and agreed that that is how the Savior's church should be run. YAY! It was pretty amazing. After these kinds of experiences, Sister Holmstead and I always look at each other at the same time and have this look of, "did that seriously just happen?!" Heavenly Father is so good. His timing amazes me.
We were able to help Branden and Jessica paint their hallway finally! It was super fun, they made lunch for us and everything! They've come to church the last few weeks, so that is exciting. Hopefully, they will get married soon, so they can both progress! :)
We stopped by the Larson's and were going to carol to them, but instead they shared their many talents with us! haha, it was fun. All of their kids can play the piano and sing and they love to perform. It's way cute. :)
It's so weird, everyone is coming home from college.. and I was here when they left for the beginning of the semester! hahaha, I've been here for so long! :) Not complaining, one bit. It's just strange. I feel like I am just another member of the ward, but that I wear a tag, and am a missionary, and spend all day every day sharing the gospel! haha.
SO SATURDAY WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.
We had a Christmas Morningside with all of the missionaries in Bakersfield and it was precious! We got to watch It's a Wonderful Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite movie of all time. Merry Christmas to us! :) Everyone laughed and cried, it was so good. I was so, so happy.
After the movie, President Elledge, a member of the Mission Presidency asked us the question, "how would your life be different if you hadn't served a mission?"
Then on Sunday in Relief Society, the lesson was on carrying the gospel to all of the world, and so long story short, Sister Haner ended up asking me what I've learned from my experiences on my mission...
So from those two experiences, I've had a lot going through my mind, but the questions of what I've learned and how different would my life be if I hadn't served made me want to solidify all of the emotions, memories and thoughts going through my mind. I have come to many thoughts and impressions, and I will try my best to consolidate them into this email... here we go.
If I hadn't served a mission, I would in reality not be emailing you all right now. That is pretty obvious.. but the impact of that sentence weighs more than it appears. I would not have had the experiences that have made me into the person I am today. Every day, I have been put into uncomfortable and inconvenient situations. I've met hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in the last 18 months. I've prayed and fasted over my own challenges but also of those whom I have come to love and adore. I have lost myself in the labor of helping others find the truth and turn to the Lord for help. By doing that, it has opened my heart to loving and caring for people I would have never even thought I would have even talked to before my mission. I can only remember glimpses of the person I used to be before the mission. I don't want to slide back to what I once was. I used to let my weaknesses define me instead of trying to overcome them and refine my character and nature to one who follows Jesus Christ. There is oh so much more work to be done in overcoming my fears and insecurities, but from serving a mission I've learned who to turn to in overcoming fear and discomfort. The Savior has become my greatest friend and relief. He overcame all, and through relying on His grace and mercy, we can come unto Him and be saved.
Each area I've served in and each companion I've served with, have all taught me so many things. I've learned many lessons from their examples, friendship, and the experiences we have been through together! Many of my companions have taught me to be myself, and to become the best person I can, through relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I've found some of my dearest friends out here; recent converts and ward members that have become family and companions that have become my sisters. I'm so grateful for each one of them and the eternal impact they've had on my life. I can't even imagine not meeting and loving each one of them! I've been changed for the better and I know that I was sent to the California Bakersfield Mission by a loving Heavenly Father who knew exactly what I needed and who I needed in these last 18 months. The timing of when I've been transferred has been exactly what was intended by the Lord because of the spiritual experiences I've had following the changes that have occurred on my mission! I've learned to have faith and expect miracles to happen when I am diligent and obedient and trust in the Lord. The power of prayer has become my go-to in every situation. Even yesterday we were just walking down the hallway of the church building and out of pure habit.. not sure why I said it because it was really irrelevant.. I said, "should we say a prayer?" hahaha we both laughed really hard because it made zero sense. :) I've learned to have hope, to love and have charity; the pure love of Christ, and to be diligent and exactly obedient in the work of the Lord. I've learned the impact of having a humble and teachable heart and the importance of heeding the counsel of my leaders and ultimately, the Leader. I have learned that gaining knowledge and having virtuous thoughts, words and actions can give us so much peace and happiness. Through many, many experiences I've recognized I've become more and more patient as the Lord has been ever so patient with me. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father live and they love us more than we can comprehend. I have an undying passion for the Book of Mormon and I know that it is the word of God and that I've gotten closest to my Savior as I've read it and applied its teachings in my life. I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I'm so, so, SO sad to be ending this mission of mine. My life has been saved because of it and I'm eternally grateful to all who have played a part in it! I'm forever changed, and I am so indescribably grateful to a loving Father who knows all.
I love you all so much. I hope you have the Merriest of Christmas's as you remember the true meaning for the season. :)
Merry Christmas ya filthy animals! :)
PS: Arianna passed her interview and is getting baptized December 29th! :)
Salem didn't make it to church, so we are postponing his baptism to a later time.
The elders decorating cookies with the activity day girls...hahaha
and my last district meeting... :( is this real life?
Thanks Sister Long for leaving your Jumbalia mix! :) It was delicious.