Well, if everyone wasn't telling me I was going home, I'd probably forget. Life seems just as crazy as normal here in Pennsylvania.
On Monday night we were at our favorite Less-Active's home for dinner, and we get a text from Ashley. She was in trouble and needed someone to talk to. When we drove the 30 minutes to get to her home and when we walked in, she just collapsed into our arms and started to cry. As I held her, I looked at her house and it was a disaster. There were glass bottles everywhere and her baby boy was covered in (I hope) pudding as he cried on the floor, and the cats were chasing each other around all the disaster. We pulled her into the messy kitchen and she told us everything that was going on, how she had to feed her baby a soft pretzel for dinner because they didn't have any other food (They really didn't, we checked the fridge and cupboards) because a man who has staying with them stole all of their money and then crashed their car. This whole situation cause Ashley and her fiancé Greg to get in an argument, involving broken glass and screaming and her throwing her engagement ring away. Yowza. I told Ashley that the only thing that would help her is the gospel. Greg then walked in, and I was terrified he would start a fight, but he just looked at us, (usually he scoffs and rolls his eyes when we are over) and he said, "FINE. You know what, FINE. We'll *explicit* go to church. I've hit rock bottom. But if I don't like your church, I'm NEVER coming back." and we were just like....... okay. Cool Greg. They had a doctor's appointment this Sunday but we've gotten a solid commitment for them to come on the 5th. Sister Tait and I got some food for them, read the Book of Mormon with Ashley, helped her clean up a but, and then left. We've been texting her and things have been getting a bit better. Today is her birthday so we'll be going over to see her tonight and we only pray that she'll realize the hope that can come through the Lord.
On Thursday we were out contacting some people, and we saw this lady across the street who was struggling to take some bags out of her car so went to help her. Her name was Damaris and we started talking about the gospel right away. She invited us in her home and she told us she knows we are servants of the Lord because her father in Puerto Rico once was really struggling and two sister missionaries came over and helped him with his home. We taught her a bit about the Restoration but then had to leave quickly - we got a text telling us that we were having a surprise Mission Leadership Council in Columbia, Maryland THAT NIGHT. So we got ready and hopped in the car with the Zone Leaders and drove the two hours down to Columbia. When we got there, we were met by Elder Carlson(He's a member of the Seventy), who gave us a beautiful instruction about Christlike-leadership. He said a LOT of things I needed to hear. He was telling us some things about the Savior and then he stopped right in the middle of his sentence, turned away from the chalkboard and said, "I don't know why I feel inspired to say this, but if there are any in this room who are going home soon, I advise you to not look back on your mission, trying to count the number of good deeds you have done to seek your affirmation about your mission. Look at who you have become. And then, stay true to that soul that has been carved and handled by the Lord." It was precisely what a lot of missionaries needed to hear. I am so grateful for inspired men of God!
The next day we had ZONE conference in Columbia, so instead of driving all the way back home, we just slept over with Sister Olsen and Sister Thayne. We were ill-prepared for this sleepover and I'm just grateful I don't have to sleep on the floor every night. Tender Mercies.
Zone Conference was amazing. We talked about agency and repentance, as well as my new favorite quote, "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves." - Joseph Smith. and it was exactly what I needed. It was my favorite Zone Conference of my whole mission. having Elder Hawley as the assistant made it even better. I gave my departing testimony, which is what all missionaries who are going home that coming transfer do at Zone Conference. It was weird to be the one standing there, I thought that moment would never come.
On Saturday, we did lots of service in the morning, Moving Ryan and Navaeh's family into a new home, cleaning for Jen Stoffel, a lady with a crazy tattooed20 year old son who loves sister missionaries a little too much. That afternoon, we headed to the library to work on our progress record and as soon as we step into the building a lady rushes over to us, grabs us and says, "Get in the bathroom now! A tornado is about to touch down!" we got shoved into a bathroom with about 20 women who were all very concerned with their smart phones and didn't want to make conversation. We were let out about 20 minutes later, and they told us, "Go home now! Another one is coming in a few minutes!" We decided it wouldn't be productive to go home, so we drove to the church, so we could still get our progress record done. The damage was not bad, just lots of tree branches in the middle of the road and on people's lawns. We made it to the church and the sky was a bright purple. We closed the door behind us in the foyer, and almost immediately after we did, the wind increased and the rain began to come down like nothing I have ever seen. The wind was 68 MPH, we found out later. So grateful the Lord protects his missionaries. It went away in about an hour, and then it was like nothing ever happened. Back to 50 degrees, sunny... it's been a strange winter.
That night was taught the Aipa's, who are still on track to get baptized this weekend. They all came to church and their interview is tomorrow. Hurray! Also, Ryan passed the sacrament and Dean McBride and I sang in church again. It was an amazing Sabbath until Jen Stoffel invited us over to dinner and her son who likes sisters a little too much caused some problems that made us leave early. I'm so grateful for the Holy Ghost.
Isn't it powerful that we are in the hands of the Almighty God, that He cares about our fragile sorrows and all our hopes? Ameezing.
Love you all!