Oh my goodness, what a wonderful last week in Durham 2!!! We found some incredible people this week and had plenty of tiny but wonderful miracles. I am going to miss Durham, but I am so grateful for all that I have learned here. I have grown so much and learned a ton in this area. Durham will always hold a special place in my heart, but I'm sure I will love my next area just as much.
Awesome person #1: Tonya! Tonya was a little bit of a miracle find, but one we were searching for. Her cousin (someone we had taught for a while) just died a few weeks ago and so we wanted to find her. We have learned that tragedies often soften hearts to the gospel and we wanted to testify to her of the Plan of Salvation. We had done a little sleuthing and knew that she had chairs and flower pots on her back porch. That and a specific complex was all we had to go on. So Sister Ruske went 'targeted tracting' on exchanges and found an apartment that she thought was the right one. This week we had planned to stop by before another appointment. Our scheduled lesson ended up being earlier than planned, so we stopped by what we thought was Tonya's apartment after the lesson, around . Miracle #1- IT WAS THE RIGHT HOUSE!! Miracle #2- We showed up at the exact right time. She had been having a terrible day and was really struggling. It was the day of her cousin's funeral and she wasn't able to go. She was also struggling with some past addictions (triggered by the emotions of the day) and we knocked right as she was thinking about giving in. We had a wonderful doorstep lesson! We were able to bear our testimonies of Christ's Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. We were able to tell her that we knew, with certainty, that her cousin would live again and that she would see him. It was amazing to see how Heavenly Father made everything work together so that we arrived at the perfect moment to help one of His beloved daughters. I felt so much love for her as we listened to her concerns and bore our testimonies.
Awesome person #2: Bessie! We went to go stop by a potential who had told us to come around 4. Of course they weren't home when we showed up right at 4, so we went tracting. We met Bessie, who is definitely one of my tender mercies for the week! She has had a few family members die recently and has been really missing them. We began teaching the Plan of Salvation but then she started asking questions about Joseph Smith so we transitioned to the Restoration. She has heard a little about the church but didn't know a lot. When we told her about the Book of Mormon and used the pictures to explain it, she told us she would love to read it! And when we had shared the First Vision and asked her how she felt, she said she felt it was true! She was hesitant to accept a baptismal date because she doesn't want to leave her family church, but she'll come around with prayer :) She is so open to the Spirit and I have no doubt that she will get an answer to her prayers very quickly!
Awesome person #3: Belinda! Apparently death is a major theme of this email, because it is something Belinda is dealing with too. Belinda is a former investigator that Sister Burkholder and I found and then dropped. She called us this past week and wants to meet with us. She just found out that she has breast cancer (which killed her mom, grandma, and several aunts) and *just happened* to see our card when she was thinking that she needed to get closer to God. We haven't actually been able to meet with her yet, but I am so excited to see what happens in the next few weeks with her!!
Awesome person #4: Corrie! Corrie delivers our mail. So obviously, she is one of our favorite people :) We had briefly talked to her a couple weeks ago, just said hi as we went out to get our mail. We had given her a #LIGHTtheWORLD card and told her about the video. She told us her name, but that was all we knew about her. Then this week we got home right as she was delivering the mail, so we decided to stop to talk to her. She is so cute!!! She asked us if she could show us a video of her daughter on Christmas. We of course said yes :) We ended up talking to her for half an hour and learned a lot about her. She talked about how she had found comfort through her church during a difficult time in her life and how there was this one sermon she listened to over and over. I had the thought "she is going to LOVE General Conference talks" :) It was awesome because I had just read a Book of Mormon verse in my studies that morning that related to what she was talking about. We were able to share it with her and it didn't feel awkward or forced at all! Even as a full-time, nametag-wearing missionary, I am still able to have 'normal person' missionary moments. I loved seeing how I can continue to be a missionary after I take off my nametag. Sharing the gospel doesn't have to be hard, it is as simple as saying hi to your mailperson and giving them a Christmas card (or Easter card, or a regular pass-along card). You can even just leave them a note if you're shy :)
I am so grateful to have this incredible blessing of being able to serve a mission and share Christ's restored gospel with all that I meet. I know that this church is truly Christ's church and that He is at its head. How grateful I am that I am able to represent Him and testify of Him every single day! I know that He lives. He came to suffer and die for all of us, but that is not the end of the story. I have spent the last week testifying over and over again that death is not the end of life or our family. The end of the story hasn't happened yet. Graves and headstones are not the end, the end is us living forever with our families and with our Heavenly Father. That gift is possible through the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ. I testify that the power and authority to seal families together forever, not just 'until death do you part' was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we will all live again and that we can overcome all of the heartaches of this life because of our Savior Jesus Christ.
What a fun 6 weeks with these missionaries!!!
Bonita the lovely :)
Her name means 'beautiful' in Spanish and I think it fits her perfectly :) She is wonderful and on track to get baptized on the 28 of this month! Hopefully Sister Ruske will send me pictures!