I hope you are having a good Halloween! Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, although you might question why, but it almost seems a relief not to have to worry about finding a costume or feeling guilty for not having one. The only thing that is Halloween-ish that I have done is eat the cookies that you sent me and make pumpkin pancakes and watch other missionaries carve a pumpkin. So, mostly just eat things. I guess we have also been taking note of the different levels of people decorating their houses for Halloween and asking little kids what they are dressing up as, but really it has just been sliding by fairly unnoticed. Tonight, we are not allowed to be out on the streets or use our cars at all, so all the sisters are having a party in the
It should be fun! It always is when we get all of the sisters together :) That
is one thing that I love about being in a Visitor's Center, we get to be around
the other sisters a lot and strengthen and support each other. Trail Center
Sister Kusnerik and I have been learning a lot this week about attitudes towards missionary work, a lot from Elders. Elders just have a completely different approach to missionary work a lot of the time. Sisters tend to get caught up in expecting themselves and others to achieve perfection and making themselves miserable and extremely stressed in the process. It seems that Elders take a more relaxed approach: understanding the importance of the work but also acknowledging that they do not have to be perfect. That as long as they are trying their hardest, that's ok! When I asked one of the Elders what his one piece of advice to Sisters is, he told me that it is to be yourself. Wow. That's so true. Being a missionary doesn't mean you suddenly morph into a different person. It just means that you are (rapidly) building upon the traits you already have to become more Christ-like. That way, when you return home, you have built yourself to be a better person instead of building on a pretend foundation that disappears when you leave your mission. It also means that you do not have to completely tear down the person you were before your mission. On top of this, I learned from Sister Kunz to find the good in everything. When she came out with us on Thursday, our first appointment cancelled. The only thing she said was to comment on how nice it was to be outside in the fresh air. When something happens that you cannot change or cannot control, there is no point in dwelling on it. Just move on. She also told us that as long as we feel like we are trying to do our best in missionary work, at the end of the day, God is looking down on us and is proud. He loves us and wants to reward us, not he is annoyed by us and is disappointed when we are not perfect.
Last night, we were able to have an amazing experience with a less active from our ward and his girlfriend. When we went to visit them last night, they were very sweet to invite us in and fed us cookies and milk. As we started talking, she quickly revealed that she is agnostic and has been since she was a teenager (now in her 50's). He stopped going to church after his first wife and he were divorced and he felt that a lot more emphasis was put on him because of the priesthood whereas his daughter and ex-wife were largely ignored. Since then, they have been visited many, many times by groups from our ward. They were very sweet to us, but did not seem particularly interested in learning or developing their faith. As we talked, they started to open up to us more and more until he accidentally shared with us a piece of confidential information that she did not want shared. Although the situation seemed a little treacherous at first, it turned out to be a great blessing as we reassured her and built a relationship of trust with them. At one point, she asked us about our limited communication with family members while we are on missions. We explained that the price that we pay by leaving our families is small compared to the reward that we get to help others be with their families for eternity. She was very touched. "Wow. You would do that for me?" By the end of the appointment, she had gone from not believing in God to strongly desiring to have greater faith and to learn more about the gospel. We committed them to pray together every night, which it turns out is something that he had been wanting to do for a long time. We promised them great blessings if they would have that faith. They tried to tell us multiple times that we did not understand the magnitude of the blessings we were promising, that it would be huge. I felt it so strongly. I know that if they follow through with their commitment that they will be so blessed. My heart yearns for them to have that.
Sorry for the length of this message! I just love this couple so much and am so appreciative for the experience we were able to have last night. I am really starting to love the Oakview area. I know that there are good people there that are prepared; they are just taking a little time to find.