Sunday: Sister Madsen spoke in church. Great job Sister Madsen!!! Also, our ward mission leader was out of town and had asked us to teach gospel principles for him so we prepared a beautiful lesson, and then the elders just gallantly assumed that it was their responsibility to teach, so by the time we got to the classroom they were already teaching. Kind of a relief tbh.
Monday: Got a flu shot, a grapefruit, AND went to see the Tiffany windows at the Emmanuel Episcopal church. I felt like I was in a joke a little bit. “Two Mormon missionaries walk into an Episcopal church…”
Tuesday: Zone training, which happens about once a month. We get to drive a few hours and have a long meeting, which are two hallmarks of mission life (especially in Cumberland.) Sister Madsen and I were asked to instruct on listening to the Holy Ghost. I learned so much from preparing to instruct. Our theme was being prepared to receive revelation (especially by knowing the scriptures, planning effectively, etc). It helped me grow so much. We committed everyone to pledge to God that they would never again ignore, delay, or suppress a spiritual prompting. I would leave you all with the same challenge.
Wednesday: We had an AMAZING Halloween party at the church. It was packed with people and with miracles. Sister Madsen dressed as Princess Leia and I went as Velma. There was a classic trunk-or-treat and so many of our awesome members brought their friends. We found a new family to teach there! That night we drove to Martinsburg (about an hour and a half away) to have a sleepover with the sisters there because…
Thursday: The church’s hottest event is SISTERS CONFERENCE. It has everything: life advice from senior missionaries, a short hike, breakfast AND lunch, bacon, bags of trail mix with stickers that say “feel loved” on them, a clothing exchange, matching journals ft. Klimt’s Tree of Life (everyone was v. impressed that I could identify it ;)) laminated handouts with quotes on them, autumn leaves, selfies with the mission president (he said, “I feel like Mickey Mouse at Disneyland…”). Speaking of our mission president, he showed up in a suit and his wife said, “Honey, are you going to hike in that suit?” and he said, “Oh yes” and I said, “It’s your hiking suit, right President?” so for the rest of the day he called it his hiking suit. He is such a dad. He has five daughters and zero sons and he told us, “I’m so grateful for the sisters in this mission and so are the wards. Every bishop begs me for sisters. Sometimes I wish our mission was exclusively sisters…” Oh we loved it.
Friday: BAPTISM OH YESLY YES YES OH BLESSED DAY The baptismal service was honestly perfect. Our investigator’s mother was a member of the church who hadn’t been practicing for many, many years and finally a few months ago our investigator decided to take the lessons. She’s a senior in high school now. Her grandparents drove in from Illinois so he could baptize and confirm her and it was amazing to see what an impact our investigator’s decision had on her family. Her aunt and mother, who are both less-active sisters came to the baptism and then to church on Sunday and her non-member brother and boyfriend came to the baptismal service as well as a less-active brother the ward has really been trying to reach out to. Miracles! The baptism was so well-attended that we had to put in three extra rows of chairs in the room after the service started and there were still people standing in the back. There must have been 40 people there. The Relief Society, also known as the heroes of every church function, came through really well in the treat department and even improvised some centerpieces (because our white table clothed-tables in the cultural hall were too plain) and everyone had a fabulous time gabbing afterward. One of the first impressions I received when planning this baptismal service was that two sisters in the ward needed to collaborate and sing. One of these sisters is also a senior in high school and the other one is new to the ward and the two of them just have the most beautiful voices you ever did hear. They sang “I Stand All Amazed” together which is already a cryer. The whole family was just sobbing.
When the time came for the actual ordinance, Sister Madsen and I brought our investigator to the font and grabbed her mother to stand in the wings with us to receive her daughter with a towel right after. As we stood to the right of the font we looked out on the huge group who had come to support this wonderful young woman including so many of our beloved ward
members and a beautiful family. we saw our wonderful elders acting as witnesses and our ward mission leader beaming with pride. We saw our investigator and her grandfather at an event that he had been fasting and praying for for many years standing in the water together. I had my arm around her mother and I felt her whole body shaking with happy sobs. The notes of a moving musical number about the Savior lingered and I thought… this is as good as it gets. This is what it’s all about. There is no sacrifice that isn’t worth the soul-deep joy of watching the gospel change and bless and individual, her family, and her ward. I have yet to experience anything better.
Saturday: Halloween, when we were required to go in early so we don’t get too spooky or something. I don’t know. We had dinner with our ward mission leader/best friend and got to help a little on the candy distribution front. I loved it. I also loved getting to go in early and start deep-cleaning the apartment, an activity I find deeply satisfying and calming.
Sunday: A beautiful beautiful confirmation in sacrament meeting. It was also fast and testimony meeting, and hearing all the testimonies of the ward members who were excited and inspired by our newest ward member was so sweet. We have an amazing ward here in Cumberland. On Sunday we also found out about transfers. Are you ready??? Drum roll please… I will be serving in the Columbia Young Single Adult ward!!! YSA missionary work is so special to me because of the great success I saw the missionaries in my YSA in Philadelphia enjoy. I watched some really wonderful people whom I loved deeply and dearly come into the church there and I feel so tenderly toward the work with young single adults. In fact, when we were making goals this week, I felt strongly impressed that Sister Madsen and I needed to seek out referrals from the young single adults of our ward. It must be a sign!
Monday: so much packing. I am 90% packed and 100% exhausted. Later today we have our very first new member lesson with a wonderful new convert to the church 🙂
Okay… I’m tired now from writing all of that. It’s time for pictures. Because of transfers coming up, you can send letters to the address in the sidebar of the blog (in Ellicott City) and they will forward them to me. That applies to any point in my mission!