Last Monday was my last full day with Sister Workman (she is doing well, minus a sinus infection. I actually got to see her briefly on Friday at a meeting my new companion had to go to) and we went to Duke Gardens and saw a first edition Book of Mormon that Duke has. It was amazing to see it and be able to hold such an important piece of history. As I flipped through the pages I couldn't help but think about the history of that specific book. Who read it? Who became converted because of it? Did Joseph Smith personally give this particular copy to someone? I know that someone must have been converted by it, all they had to do was read it and pray. I know that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God and that this is His church. Having the Book of Mormon in my life has brought me so much closer to my Savior and my Father in Heaven and I am incredibly grateful for it.
I got my new companion on Tuesday, after a very strange few hours where I was without an official companion and just with ward members. Her name is Sister Warner and she is amazing! She is from Alaska, the middle of 9 children, and has so much energy! She never seems to get tired or need to stop, she just keeps going and doing. Being with her for the next 7 weeks (yes, 7. This transfer is longer because the MTC is going back to 3 week training so everything is adjusting to that) is definitely going to push me and I am so excited! She came in with the unexpected news that we are now covering two wards and that she is the sister training leader. Lots of surprises that first day! We are still in the process of figuring out all the logistics of two wards, but it is not as difficult as I expected it to be. I was admittedly a tiny bit stressed when I first found out, but Sister Warner is a great source of knowledge and guidance. Prayer was of course what helped me the most.
This past week I have been studying humility and how I can be more humble. I have learned how humility is truly a sign of strength and not weakness. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you cannot do it all on your own and that you need help. True strength comes from recognizing and acknowledging your weaknesses and working to improve them. I am only able to do what I have been called to do because of the Lord, I know that I would not be able to do even half of what I have done if I was on my own. I always have things to work on and I am honestly so grateful for that! I love being able to find new things to work on and knowing that I do not have to be the same person that I have always been.
One of our investigators is a great example of humility. We were teaching Lashanda and her family about the Restoration. Lashanda's aunt was there and has very strong faith in God. This aunt is going to be starting her own church soon and has very strong opinions on what her family should be learning. Near the end of the lesson, the aunt was telling us that she felt that we put too much emphasis on prophets and that we were going to be leading her family astray. After about five minutes of this, she basically told us we were not welcome back. As we were leaving, Lashanda came out and started talking to us. She apologized for her aunt and told us that we are always welcome and that she just wants what is best for her children. Some of the older kids were there as well and told us that they like us and want us to keep coming. It was a very sweet moment and I am so grateful that the Spirit was able to touch them and soften their hearts to have the desire to learn more. Their genuine desire to feel the Spirit and learn more about God was so touching I am so grateful that Sister Warner and I were able to bring the Spirit into their home and that we were able to build a good relationship with them.
The ward members here are amazing! We had a last minute lesson right after church in our second ward and needed someone to come with us, and a member in Relief Society said she was available. It turns out that she is a convert and joined the church in her 30s and is now in her 60s. She wanted so badly to serve a mission, but was married with children when she got baptized. She was so excited to hear that she can still serve a mission, even at her age and being divorced. It is so wonderful to see the joy that comes into people's lives as they live and share the gospel.
I unexpectedly got to see my mission president and his wife yesterday! They spoke in one of our wards and it was so powerful! President and Sister James talked about the importance ward members play in the work. I have definitely seen how much of a difference it makes when members of the ward come out with us. The lessons always go better and the investigators have someone to connect to. There have been so many times when the member with us said exactly the right thing for the investigator and it was something I would have never thought of. Do not discount your importance in missionary work! You are needed. I have so many ideas for how to be a better member missionary when I am not a full-time missionary. "Ask the missionaries, they can help" is true! We would absolutely love to help you share the gospel and find ways that you can help those you know. Please just ask, I guarantee the missionaries will be more than happy to help you.
This is what a 200 year old Book of Mormon looks like. Fun fact: the original Book of Mormon contained a preface from Joseph Smith.
Duke Gardens: The one with the birds
Duke Gardens: Asian edition