Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

Doctrine and Covenants 50:22

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Power to Astonish

Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! I love this time of year and I love Jesus Christ. We had a wonderful devotional this last week from Elder Gay of the Seventy who talked about how as representatives of the Savior we have power to astonish, to deliver "good tiding of great joy". How beautiful! I want to testify that that is true because this week I personally have truly been spiritually AND mentally astonished... is overwhelmed a synonym of astonished? haha. Wow. What a week. I will just start from the beginning.

So transfers: it was a difficult Monday and Tuesday morning of good-byes and getting stuck in the snow. Over and over again. #arizonaproblems. After finally packing my stuff the morning before transfers, we headed to the meeting with our kind member, Sister Bischoff because our tire was completely flat. At transfers they announced the new STL's and where they were serving. So before I even found out who my companion was, I learned that I was heading back to the winter wonderland of Wyoming, to Rock Springs. lol. Shock number one of one thousand. As the drama of transfer meeting continued I finally got my golden greenie, Sister Hill, from a small town of 5,000 in Salem, Missouri! She is a convert of 2 years and has the brightest and strongest greenie fire! She is in a family of 9 and only 2 of her siblings and now her parents are active members of the church. She is so adorable and ready to work. She loves this work and is already making miracles happen. Bonus: we also get along great. We are polar opposites but we work so well together and have already had such a blast together! #pumped. So whitewash-training and STL news made it for a late exit from the mission office, between figuring out our new area book, getting all of my stuff AND sister hills stuff in a tiny Toyota to head back in the storm to Wyoming, and learning my role as STL. The roads were horrible and the freeway was closed past Evanston, so Sister Eberhardt had us stay in SLC. So we ended up going BACK to my last area and staying the night with Sister Parker and her cute new greenie, also a convert of two years, from the deep south. We had nothing to do from 5 pm. to 9 p.m., so we got to go out to eat with President and Sister Eberhardt, the Assistant’s to the President, and the office staff, which felt pretty official.

We couldn't get our stuff out of the car at my old apartment, because it was so tightly packed and we didn't know what was where, so we slept in our clothes and left first thing in the morning for Wyoming.  We made it Evanston around 9 a.m. but the roads past that were still closed. We finally made to Rock Springs around 5 p.m., made it two a few lessons, messy hair, dirty clothes, un-brushed teeth, and all! #cute Then had to head back Friday morning to SLC for our temple trip.
The temple was beautiful and it was Sister Hill’s first time seeing it. It is actually her first time in Utah, which was really fun and exciting because 90% of our missionaries either come here like yearly, or have family here, or both. She was so happy! The traffic was crazy because of everyone there to see the pretty temple square lights so we made it to the Banks’ house way past curfew. The Banks, who are in our mission presidency, have a huge mansion so that was fun to stay in. The next morning we had our zone conference, mission dinner, and devotional which was amazing! Can't wait to tell you more about it. That ended late so we stayed another night at the Banks’ and left around 10 the next morning. We finally made it back to Rock Springs and had a boss lesson with our less active named Vlad, from West Africa, and his fiancé who we found out is not a member. Sister Hill extended her first baptismal commitment and Vlad’s fiancé, (can’t remember her crazy Brazilian name) was so excited! She said yes! The Spirit was so strong. So Sunday was our first full day so it was a bit overwhelming but of course meetings and lessons were so centered on the birth of the Savior and we had some great Christmas programs in our wards. I don't know much about our area quite yet, but we are learning more about our investigators.  Right now we have 7 investigators, including Vlad’s fiancé we found on Saturday, but the prior sisters were already working with the 6 other investigators and none of them are progressing. We have called all of them and have visits scheduled with almost all so I am looking forward to meeting them and helping them. We may lose some investigators and gain others because in 2 weeks they are completely re-doing the stake boundaries. We have 3 sets of missionaries here in the stake, it is a fairly large stake and even covers Pinedale, which is about a hundred miles away. We have 3 wards right now and I think we still will, but we don’t know who will be where until January 10th. So, that’s fun. #drowning. We met with the stake president about that yesterday and he is really great and super missionary-minded, so I know things are going to just keep getting better. So, we are leaving back for SLC tonight, or sooner, because another storm is coming in, for New Missionary Training, and then I think we will be in our area again for at least the rest of the month. So, in a nut shell, that's our life right now. #astonished
Missionary life is great. The Spirit teaches me daily. The Lord is molding me. I have heard missionaries say how exhausted they are at the end of their mission. #true. I have finally hit that point. I know from here until the end I'm going to have to rely on the Atonement on a whole different level than I have before and, for that reason, I am so grateful. I am grateful to learn more of His Atonement and use it, because I have so much more I need to give. More to give to the people in Rock Springs, to the sisters in Wyoming, and most of all to my Savior. I am so looking forward to figuring out how I can truly give my whole heart to the Lord. That is really all we have to offer. Everything else we give Him is just returning what He has already given us. I want to give the Lord my complete heart. The amazing thing is, I know as I do this , He only gives me more. How good is our Master? His love for me astonishes me daily.

Our zone conference was centered on personal conversion and our testimonies of Jesus Christ. In our wonderful devotional, Elder Gay talked about some of the symbolism of Christmas and the special responsibility we have as missionaries to testify of the Savior’s birth. I know that Christ lives. I know we celebrate His birth because of His death and resurrection. I know the Atonement is real and as we allow it to change us we can ever be becoming: becoming more happy, more pure, more like our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that everything we do here on this earth, we can magnify and beautify as we rely on the Savior, as we rely on His love and the power of His Atonement. I pray we can ever be astonished at the magnitude of His gifts to us and, as we do so, we can freely give. We have to the power to astonish. The gift of Christ is a miracle. I testify in Christ’s name, which I bear, amen.

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