I am now coming to realize why everyone and their dog here says that Kentucky is bipolar... For almost the entire week, it's been raining so much. Like an insane amount of rain. The Crowders (an amazing family in our ward, more to come about them later) are also from Arizona, and they worry about me with the rain. They told me that AZ gets about 7 inches of rain a year, and we've gotten 6.5 inches in the last 6 weeks... Everything and I mean everything is flooding!! We are in need of Noah's ark people!! SOS. Haha only kidding, becsuse we are in Kentucky and you just have to wait 5 minutes and the weather will change. From the 30 degrees, and pouring rain most of last week to 73 degrees and sunny today. God bless Kentucky.
And the weather is a total illustration of our week. I have seen the importance of being prepared for a rainy day. The Scottish poet James Barrie wrote, “God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.” I know that it is so important to hold unto the good moments we have, so we can look back and remember God is in control of our lives to help us, and steer us out of the troubling times. We should record our spiritual impressions and blessings on our sunny days, so you can remember those moments on the rainy days.
And that's exactly what I have done for this week!! The beginning of our week was not so hot. A wave of negativity was hitting us time after time. It seemed that everyone we talked to was losing hope on missionary work in our area. I had one statement hit me pretty hard, that I did much pondering on. Someone said, "I'm so glad I don't have your job." There are a lot of struggles and let downs at times with being a missionary. BUT, I got to thinking with my "job" I have the BEST boss in the entire world, Jesus Christ himself. And with all the negativity we were receiving, it was really starting to take a toll on Sister Ashmead and I. Is are area really a lost cause? Will anyone listen? Why are we even trying? AND THEN, we realized, these our not thoughts that the Savior wants us to think. There is SO much hope! We decided something AMAZING is about to happen, and that's why the adversary is trying SO hard to knock us down. My aunt Sherri pointed out to me that right before Jospeh Smith saw God the father, and Jesus Christ standing on his right side, the adversary came with everything he had to try and stop this truly magnificent event from occurring. Even though the beginning of our week was full of rain and negativity, we choose to keep going on despite it all, and you know what, the sun DID COME OUT! So bright! And so many blessings have occurred.
As I've looked back during my time as a missionary, I don't remember nearly as much discouragement or hard times as much as I cherish the miracles we encounter, the happiness and good times that are always being showered over us by our loving Heavenly Father.
As for when the sun came out, we saw 2 amazing miracles. On one of the days when the rain was down pouring, we had to pick up a laminator from the Crowder family. They could sense we were a little down, and so they chated with us a bit and tried to cheer up our spirits. Right before we left, Brother Crowder said he had a referral for us. He wanted us to check out one of his neighbors down the street. I'm sure, without a doubt, the spirit inspired Brother Crowder to give us a referral at that exact moment, because it was when we needed it the most.
Then on the way home, we got the most awesome text ever!!!! I'll have to back up a little bit for this story. So, a while back I talked about an investigator that I love with all of my heart. Sadly, she sent us a break up text a few months ago saying she would rather not meet anymore. This broke my heart so much. I was devastated because I've seen her come so far and all the potential that she has, and I didn't want to see her walk away from it all. But anyways, I really do think about this individual ALL the time, she has her own personalized note sections on my tablet and anytime I read something I thought she might need to hear, I would write it down.
When Sister Campbell was still here we had made hearts to heart attack her door. But everytime we would go to do the heart attack they would be home, and could catch us. Or we would simply forget, and it never happened. Even when Sister Ashmead got here, we would still try and try again, but it wasn't working out. One day as we were out and about, I had an impression to go to her house right now and just do it, no matter what! So, we went on our way. As we were sitting in the car, putting all the tape on the hearts to protect them from the rain, a car drove up and it was one of her roommates that knows us. I couldn't believe it, we got caught!! But I knew we needed to do it. We got out of the car and I said, "you don't see us right now, we are heart attacking you!!" He laughed and said "okay okay, she's not here right now so I won't tell her it was you." The water from the creek overflowed and was flooding everywhere, so he had to rush home from work and pick things up before it caused damage. We tried to help out, but he took care of most of it. Anyways, I was wondering why we had to go right then, and get caught, but I thought it worked out because we got to see her roommate and have a good conversation.
So now.... back to the car ride. Sister Ashmead with tears in her eyes, read this text to me, "Hi Sisters! I loved your surprise, thank you so much. It's funny, I actually prayed to Heavenly Father today and asked Him to continue to show me signs of His existence and to watch after you and there you were!" I was speechless and just so grateful for my Father in Heaven for being in the very details of our lives. It never worked out all those times for us to heart attack her because there was a specific time he needed us to do this. And it wasn't just to bless this individual's life but sister Ashmead and my life as well. President Monson said, “When someone gives another person a flower, the fragrance of the flower lingers on the hands of the giver.” The tender mercies the Lord sends us to give to others, are also tender mercies for ourselves. We needed that text, and she needed a sign that God was still there, and we were able to see that sign as well. We are SO unbelievably excited to meet with her this week. Yes, she agreed to have us over for dinner. I am so excited!! God is aware and will bring so much sunshine into our lives!! We learn from the Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Another outstanding message from President Monson, "When we do, we will come to realize that we have been on His holy errand, that His divine purposes have been fulfilled, and that we have shared in that fulfillment." I can testify that this is true, because I have experienced it for myself.
And the miracle stories continue, Sister Ashmead and I are very bad at hearing directions and getting to the right destination, so when we went to go find the referral from the Crowders, we got super lost, and turned up at an abondaned house. Oops. So on Sunday, we asked if we could follow them home from church and they would direct us to Clydas home. Now I have to share my love for the wonderful Crowder family. They have had a few conversations with Clyda, but don't know her very well. They learned she lives alone, so while we had a big ice storm, they went over to check on her and brought her some cookies. That's all the information we had on Clyda when we knocked on her door. And what a good thing it is that we knocked on her door! She is amazing!! It's so cool from meeting someone for the first time and just feeling like you know them. And love them instantly! Clyda and us are tight now. She is so interested in the gospel. Accepted a Book of Mormon, wants to come to church, wants to meet with us and learn more about us. She said, "I love it, you have the same spirit as the Crowders." Because we have the holy ghost as our constant companion, others will recognize that, and hearts will be softened, and people can come to know of the great knowledge of Christ's restored gospel here upon the earth. What's amazing about this whole story, is the terrific role the Crowders played in helping Clyda recieve the restored gospel. They really didn't have to do much. They showed love, compassion, and were simply themselves. All it took was a plate of cookies and the holy ghost did the rest because God has a plan for his children. A specific plan. We don't have to be scared to help others know of this plan. Trust The spirit, and be the person the Lord needs you to be. I promise you won't be alone, he will direct your paths.
As I was reading in Helaman I found a particular verse that I loved so much. Helaman 5:13 reads, "And this is according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep." It is our duty to bring the world the Lord's truth. Help them to know of his church, and to recieve more of his word. His sheep will know their shepherd's call, if and ONLY if they can recognize his voice. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. More of his words. More of his teachings. More examples of his love. More testimonies of his matchless life. There is only MORE knowledge in the Book of Mormon. Now who wouldn't want to know more about our Savior. Let's help others know more!!
I'm sure we are all striving to become the best version of ourselves. I know I am. A talk I recently read was titled 'becoming our best selves' and what I found to be interesting is that the entire talk was completely focused on serving others.
To become the best version of yourself is to serve!!! We find ourselves while serving. Some questions they gave us to ponder are...
Am I what I want to be?
Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday?
Will I be closer yet tomorrow?
Do I have the courage to change for the better?
I know with the Savior's help we can ALL become the person who he sees in us. And that is our BEST version.
For Valentine's Day, we used the hearts that my grandma Cindy mailed me to write little messages on the back and hand out to the students on campus. We were on exchanges with the Winchester Sisters, so I got to be in a trio for the day! We wrote 3 different says on the hearts. They said, you are speicial, you are important, and you are loved. It was so fun to be able to hand this out to people.
It was so cool to see people's faces light up when we gave them a Valentine. One girl said, "thank you! I've never gotten a Valentine before." There is no amount of money that can ever make up for the feelings I have when I help someone feel loved.
Another interesting event that occurred this week, is that we finally got to teach the pagans on campus!! That was quite the night.... The spirit really took control over that lesson we taught! Most of the class, was other pagan members sharing weird and I mean weird creation myths. All these wacko stories about how the world was created. Class was about to end and they asked who else had one. I raised our hands haha and asked if we could draw on the whiteboard. I started out with a question. I asked, "with all these stories and creation myths, do any of you know what was the purpose of creating the earth was? Why are we here?" Everyone was dumbfounded and could not come up with a reason for WHY we are even here. It broke my heart. We told them that God has a plan of happiness set for us. We drew up the LOVE version of the Plan of Salvation, and left them on a little cliff hanger. We said one of the major reasons we are here is because God loves us. We don't have time to go into detail about his plan, but we told them we would love to meet with anyone who is interested in learning more. We said because the Plan of Salvation will answer our questions about where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going after this life. Surprisingly, most everyone took our cards, and so many people told us they loved what we had to say. We caught some people taking pictures of our drawing. It was a good experience, and once again I love being able to help others see that they are SO loved!!
Alright funny story of the week... We were serving at a recycle center and a man named Matt is the guy in charge. Super sweet guy. It was so funny though because I was trying to make small talk and brought up the pig slaughtering thing (the guy sold his pigs so we found out last night it's not happening. Which is all good but I just wanted to chase it not kill it. Weird things in Kentucky) He went all serious and was like I don't like, that I'm vegetarian. He said that he believes we should be living like we are in heaven right? Super accurate. Then he said "I don't think there will be slaughter houses in heaven". Zing! Haha he got us there. Thank goodness the scriptures say that the animals are on earth for our use or else we would have to rethink our lives. It was just so funny because he got us on that one. Totally got roasted by Matt! He's a legend in my books.
Another incredibly long email from yours truly😘
Sister Lauren Ashlee Ludwig
1. McDonald's fun with my favorite boys!
2. Fun fact... Sister Ashmead wants to open a flower shop!
3. Our favorite human ever! Sister Ockerman💛
4. Love is awesome!!