Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Letter Dated December 16, 2013 - Crazy Week :)

Oh man! I'm soo sorry! I'm so lame and I've missed a couple weeks of weekly updates. BUT man oh man...this week was CRAZY! :) in a good way of course! :)
Okay, so last Sunday Sister Winkler and I and the Elders in the ward set up a meeting with the bishop just to see what more we could be doing to make his job easier and what else he expects of us and so forth.  And he pretty much said that everything has been going well and that he wasn't expecting any more from us than what we've already been doing.  SWEET! so then we go back to class and continue on throughout the day, no big deal. And right before the meeting that we have with our Ward Mission Leader the bishop asked if he could speak to Sister Winkler and I.  So we go into his office, and he tells us, "I don't know what you two have done...." oh great...I'm already getting into trouble. haha surprise, surprise. but then he went on, " Evan want's to be baptized this next Sunday." ....wait...what? We haven't even been teaching Evan.  Evan has been good friends with the McBride's and they have been inviting him to come to church for almost a year now. His parents wouldn't let him be baptized for the longest time and apparently they had finally agreed to let him make his own decision and were allowing him to be baptized.  AWESOME!! Evan is such a golden Child! He comes to church religiously, almost every Sundayhe's there! and he is so involved with the quorums and with attending mutual, he's enrolled in early morning seminary, he reads his scriptures all the time, get's up in fast and testimony meeting to bear his testimony, and so on! he's just a boss!  He was so prepared! and then bishop proceeds to tell us that it's a super secret because Evan wanted to surprise the McBride's when he was going to announce it.  Bishop said that he had already done a mini interview, and he had passed with flying colors, so what we needed to do as missionaries was to have the District Leader interview him, and then have us quickly teach him all the lessons and commandments in a weeks time. So we called the next morning and set up appointments to have us come over and teach him, and called and got the District Leader to come over on Tuesday to interview him.  Evan was seriously leaps and bounds ahead of anyone I've ever taught (not that I've taught a million people since I've only been out 5 months...but still...very impressive.) We told him that most people take the discussions over a longer period of time and get an interview at the end of all the lessons the week before they're baptized....but Evan was being interviewed before any of the discussions had been given, and within the same week that he's being baptized.  He is seriously a miracle child! he's awesome! So we got to go over, and Brother McBride actually came to a couple of the lessons with us and he jumped right in and was such a huge help! He did all the hard work for us! He made the programs, and got all the songs that Evan wanted to be sung, who would be speaking, who would say the prayers and be the witnesses, and then Brother McBride was actually the one that got to baptize Evan! It was such an amazing process and truly touched my heart.  Evan just has such a desire to learn more about the gospel, and he's already so knowledgeable, heck I think he knows more than I do! And he wants to be a missionary so badly, and do what's right, and live the way he should. He's already such an amazing missionary, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for him! it was amazing! We got to teach all the lessons and commandments in three lessons.....they were longer lessons that normal, but they were just solid lessons, and he knew all the right answers, and has such a strong testimony! So amazing!
Monday night to Tuesday morning, we got a pretty big snow, and so we parked the car, and after we had a lesson with Evan we went out and shoveled peoples driveways. It was fun! :) and the snow had stopped, so later that night we got to go to Tina's for dinner! :) it was SO fun! I've never made a ginger bread house before so I was so excited when we got there and she had made little ginger bread men for us, and shared a wonderful spiritual message to us, (that's always a nice change :) and afterward we got to make a cute little village! haha...but don't let me fool you.....I totally cheated! I tried so hard to put it together with the frosting...but it kept falling apart. So....I suggested to Tina to get the hot glue gun to make my process go by a little bit faster. :) haha We got to decorate them and everything! it was a blast! :) She's so sweet! She just takes such good care of us! and her and her husband even actually bought us a cute little Christmas tree with some little ornaments to put on! :) Soooo fun! and so cute! so when we got home we put the village under the tree! :)
We are now teaching Brandon, who is Jalinn's husband. She's a member, and her family is so awesome! :) We are so excited that we get to go over and teach him and their family. They are so nice and are always making me laugh! hahaha they have the greatest personalities! I love them so much! so we got to have a lesson with him on Monday night, which was fun! We got to talk more about the Restoration, and prophets.  He grew up a lot of different religions and is having a hard time with the concept of prophets, but enjoys the church, and has begun reading the Book of Mormon! :) It has been so much fun to begin teaching him because he has a lot of really good questions and is truly seeking to find truth. :) I'm excited  to see where it goes from here! :) we get to have another lesson with him tomorrow! and we got to just go see Jalinn last week, and she was telling us that it's really cool to see small changes in Brandon, and how excited she was when he picked up the Book of Mormon and began to read it on his own.  :) She had a strategy of putting Books of Mormon all over the house hoping one day he'd subconsciously pick it up and start reading it since he sees it so often.  I think it paid off! ;) haha! She was telling us that she has always wanted so badly to be able to be sealed in the temple. :) its always so touching to hear people talk about things like that and express the importance of the things that draw us nearer to our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ.  :) I'm definitely serving in the best mission ever! :)
Carol, another member in our ward that we've been working with took us out to a yummy Chinese dinner! :) it was sooo yummy! and we had so much fun just talking for so long! She has some really wonderful stories that are so touching, and you can just feel the spirit so strongly when she's speaking them! :) She and her husband were converts to the church, and she's faced a lot of really hard things in her life. But she's just a superstar! :) I love her! SO much!
Did I ever tell you one of the ladies that we visit has a pig for a pet? well....they do. and they named it Scrapple. hahaha! Its a Pennsylvania Dutch thing that really is made out of pig.  If I understood correctly, Scrapple is I don't know what part of the pig...but pig, mixed with corn meal and they eat it with breakfast....kinda like's not very good.  I didn't like it.....but I thought it was soooo funny to hear that they had named their pet pig scrapple. haha! :) we also got to visit them this week! :)
We also go to go see Erin! :) She's so awesome! :) She is just always so sweet, and she is such a good mom! she's a member, but has been less active for a long time.  But we always just have the best time when we get to go visit her.  :) She's so awesome! We got to help her put her tree up a while ago, and she also let us borrow a baby tree for our apartment! :) It has been so fun! We got to go teach her more about the Plan of Salvation, and had a really good conversation on what the Plan of Salvation could mean for her and her family! :) it was so fun, and before we ended up leaving, she had us open up a gift that she got for Sister Winkler and I.  We each got one, and we opened it up, and it was the most precious ornament that her mother had made for us, that she had cross stitched, and it was so sweet! :) Erin has the most elaborate cross stitched Christmas  socks for each member of her family that her mom had made, and we had been commenting on it the time before when we were there, and later that night she had called her mom and asked her mom to make them for us! They are so cute, and on the back it has their family name with the town that they live in! It is going to be something that will always remind me of them and the memories I've made by serving in this area! :)
oh man, and Friday, we had Zone Conference! It was SOOOOOO good! we always get the best training on how we can become better missionaries! :) They're so fun because our Zone gets together, and we get to see some of the missionaries that we haven't been able to see in a while, and we get to come together to study the scriptures, to recognize the way that the Savior served and how we can apply that to the way we serve! It's the most amazing thing! I wish I could elaborate more, but I'm almost out of time.  But I got to see my MTC companion Sister Hurdsman. :) :) that was soo fun! I tell you what, I better get to serve with her again before my mission is over! she is amazing! :) and she quotes Nacho Libre with me! :) hahaha!! I've missed that!  But it was such a fun, spiritually uplifting conference. :) and after that was over we went on exchanges. 
Exchanges is where we get to change companions for 24 hours for the purpose of learning other ways of doing things, other ways of teaching.  :) its fun! and so we got to go on exchanges....and one of the missionaries cars battery died during the conference, and we rode with the Zone Leaders, and they had to take the other missionaries to not just one store...but two stores to find some jumper cables, and so Sister Denney and I were stuck at the chapel alone for a while, while they were on a trek for Jumper cables.  That took a while, and was quite an interesting way to start the exchange..but we finally made it  home, had dinner, and taught a couple lessons that night.  The next day we had our last lesson with Evan, and taught a couple other people and had lunch before it was time to switch back....well while we were at our late lunch appointment it started to snow...and it was sticking pretty good.  We were supposed to meet at the church at 4:30 but didn't get there until about 5 because the roads were so bad. By the time we got to the church to switch companions back, it was dark and still coming down a lot.  So the Sister Training Leader called Sister Topham, our mission Presidents wife, and got permission for us to stay at their apartment that night.  It was so much fun...but also very interesting....because I didn't have ANYTHING. nothing. not even a stinkin toothbrush because I wasn't planning on staying the night I wore the same outfit two days in a row...didn't have pajamas, I didn't have a blanket or a pillow or anything..Sister Winkler had some stuff because she stayed at their apartment the night before...but I didn't have anything.  So after I showered I got to get in my yucky dirty clothes again....and that's what I ended up wearing to church the next day because our house is too far from the church to drive back to change and do everything I I went to church with no makeup....having brushed my teeth with a tiny little mini toothbrush thinger....and wearing the same clothes I had been wearing the day before. haha! awesome! It was still way fun, and we got to have a "movie night" at the apartment and we watched 17 Miracles and it was so fun! despite the fact that one of our investigators got kicked out of his house the same night it was blizzarding and freeze he called us in distress and so we had to make a bunch of phone calls to get it all worked out.  In the end it worked out since Brother Raleigh is the best Ward Mission Leader in the whole world and took care of it for us....he pretty much risked his life by going to pick him up and take him to a friends house in this kind of weather, but he just rock so he did it anyway. He's the best! :)
And then Sunday, we got to have a baptism! :) :) Yay!! :) it was so exciting! and so worth it! Evan's family came and supported him, and it was just a great experience! the speakers did a great job! Sister Calvert did the talk on baptism, she is Evans Sunday School teacher, and Brother Greenway gave a talk on the Holy Ghost! It was really good! He used an analogy of a pen, and a cap to explain the gift of the Holy Ghost! It was really good! (I just have to give a shout-out to Brother Greenway and his family for just being so awesome! :) they always take such good  care of us, and they tell us some of the funnies stories! :) especially when Brother Greenway takes all the missionaries out to for pizza! haha) and the McBrides did a beautiful musical number! and at the end, Evan bore his testimony! He's such a good kid! It was so fun! and a great experience! even though I was smelly and I didn't have any makeup on! ha! It was awesome!
We just have the worlds best ward! They've made sure that we have somewhere to go on Christmas and Christmas Eve, and a place to Skype, and that all of our needs are taken care of! Sister Greenway even made us a Christmas CD, and Brother McBride gave me some music! They just rock! I love them all so much
I also have the best family in the world! :) I love them all and am missing them so much in the Christmas Season. 
And, I have THE WORLDS GREATEST AUNT PEGGY!! !:) :) She sent my companion and I the 12 days of Christmas :) and it has been so fun to open something. :) It totally has made our week! Thank you sooo much for everything that y'all do for me! I love and miss you all!
I'll talk to you soon!
Sister Thomas :)   
Ornaments that a member hand made for them 

Evan and the family 

Evan's baptism day

The alarm clock didn't work...