I have so much to say this week I don't even know how to start!!!
I guess I will start at the beginning and just sort of try to keep it fairly chronological (I can't even remember what happened this week).
Last Monday, we started the one week stop smoking program with Paul... and guess what??! He hasn't had one cigarette since!!! :) We had some amazing help from the members of our ward, fellowshipping, visiting, and calling Paul every single day. We also had a LOT of prayer, and most of all, we had a lot of help from Heavenly Father. He is still having a rough time, and the nicotine is not all out of his system yet, but he's sticking to it and hopes to be baptized soon! Thank you for your prayers!
Tuesday, we had the most wonderful day. We started the day by teaching Duygu, our new friend from Turkey. She has such a sweet and earnest spirit and so much faith. She told us about her fiance, Oner (I may have spelled that wrong, but it sounds like honor without an H.) and invited us to her wedding in December. I wish so bad we could go, but unfortunately, her wedding will be in Turkey.... which is just a little outside our mission boundaries ;) I feel such love for Duygu. She is sincere and bright and just naturally understands everything and is always hungry to know more about her Savior.
Later that afternoon, we had so much fun. We had an appointment fall through, so Sister Baker thought we should go to see Alex (an investigator we haven't heard from in a while), but we didn't have her address so we had to text the elders for it again. Anyway, when we got to her street we got out of the car and almost immediately these two young men (26 maybe?) asked us from across the street if we wanted to play baseball with them. I admit I was kinda doubtful, as they were both tattooed and one was smoking and they both had ponytails and I pretty much judged them. (Which I felt really bad for later and then prayed about. I'm working on that.) Sister Baker didn't even hesitate. She was a rockstar. She was just like, "YEAH!!" I was a little shocked. But we crossed the street and stood in the side street and played catch with Jeremy and Armando. They were so sweet and let us use their gloves. It turns out that they were from a rehab center across the street. They were both recovering alcoholics and on parole. They were super positive though and were both there voluntarily. I had so much respect for them as they quickly befriended us and we answered their questions about the church. It was SO MUCH FUN. I just felt so much love for these two men I never even would have talked to if I weren't on a mission. I'm working to change myself and learn to be a true representative of the Savior. Would He have stopped to play with them? Absolutely. This experience really touched my heart, because it was a powerful witness to me of the way Christ loves, the way He sees God's children, and the way I want to learn to love. Unconditionally, and without prejudice.
Wednesday we were privileged to teach Palmer with Sis. Cardon, the visiting general authority's wife, and we had a beautiful spirit-filled lesson. We completely through our lesson plan out the window as soon as the Spirit started guiding us, and it was so much better than anything we could have done ourselves. Palmer is working on a baptism date!!
Thursday was a little harder, as all of our plans seemed to fail. We got in the car and looked at our planners to see where we were going and both just instantly felt like we were not supposed to be doing what we had planned. But we just couldn't seem to figure out what it was we were supposed to do. We ended up visiting some members that we felt prompted to go visit, and nothing special happened, but it was nice to know that we really were ready to follow the Spirit. And who knows? Maybe one of those people we saw really needed that visit. Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways.
Friday was pretty cool, as we had our zone conference with Elder and Sister Cardon. It was really inspiring and I learned a lot about how we can be involved in helping our wards and members as well as our investigators. But even better than that was Saturday, when we had stake conference. Our stake had Elder Auna from Hawaii, and the entire two hours was incredibly powerful. He taught us a lot about how to work together as members of the church and what it really means to counsel together. One really cool application was that as a companionship, we are a council and we can receive revelation for those we teach. But the whole church is made up of councils! Whether it's a council made up of you and the Lord, your family, or a calling or position in the church, you are on a council and you can receive divine guidance as you build unity in those around you and unity with the Lord. Then Sunday morning we returned to stake conference and learned even more! It was a very blessed weekend.
Sunday night we held a small but wonderful get together for Paul at our bishop's home to encourage him in his efforts to rid himself of smoking and congratulate him on his success so far. It was really nice to spend some time in the bishop's home and especially to see the love in the ward grow for Paul and even just between the members.
Today!!! Sorry this letter is so long but even today was AWESOME!!!
We went to Big Air and jumped our hearts out. But this time instead of our zone, there were FOUR zones there! That's two thirds of the mission. We jumped and climbed and played sharks and minnows (kickin' it back to elementary school) and someone super creative even invented a human version of pacman that we played for a while! I haven't let out that much energy in so long. We were all tired and sweaty and gross by the time we finished, but it felt sooooo good and it was sooooo nice to let out some stress. So what did we do next? Of course we went down the street with a girl from our ward and got pedicures! :) Most. Relaxing. Thing. Ever. Best decision we've made in a while. Plus, we had some great gospel conversations with the people who worked there. And then we managed to grocery shop in half an hour flat. So yeah. Best P-day ever. :)
Seriously thank you for your prayers this week. I really really felt them. I love you all so much and I really appreciate every letter and prayer. Keep Paul and Palmer in your prayers this week, as they are both working hard towards a baptism!