As per usual, our week began with weird weather: freezing rain and then suddenly it was 60 degrees. #finaldispensationprobs if you know what I mean. Despite the ice storm, some members took us to Ihop (am I the only one who always wants to spell that “iHop”?) so I was happy. On Tuesday I gave an instruction in district meeting about teaching doctrine during street contacts, and we watched the Bible video of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. That is a really good one. It’s a great illustration of how Jesus was above all prejudice in who he ministered and talked to. I’ve definitely noticed on my mission that striving to be like and thinking about Jesus all the time has developed my personal sense of equality and my ability to see everyone’s divine potential. Great job, Jesus. As usual.
We also got to go on exchanges with the wonderful Columbia 1st sisters. We have three companionships under our stewardship who are training brand-new missionaries and this was the first of them that we went on exchanges with. Keep in mind, I have never trained a new missionary so I had no idea what I was doing. Sister Walker is very wise and has been a fabulous trainer to several missionaries. She told me, “Use the same skills with this sister as you would use with an investigator. You’re there to teach and to love.” In the end I was very much the one receiving training because this sister was a boss. She knew exactly what she was doing: she knew how to call upon the powers of heaven for help and strength, she knew her purpose and her priorities, and she taught fearlessly. I was so proud. They only have a car every other day (they share with the elders) so I was struggling to keep up with her literally as well as figuratively thanks to my shortness, just jogging along behind my tall companion as she strode over the snow, Legolas-esque. This is what I love about exchanges. Every returned missionary will tell you that you learn a lot from each of your companions. Having an extra companion every week means extra learning every week. Then extra tiredness because exchanges are exhausting for some reason. We also were invited to New Beginnings, where the girls who are to turn 12 that year are introduced to the program for Young Women and meet the other girls who are 12-18. Each of the 11-year-olds were introduced through little paragraphs written by their parents and read aloud by their leader. It was so tender to hear the love and admiration that these parents expressed for their daughters. Among the group was a pair of young women who were baptized along with their families a few months ago. I was so happy that they are able to have the programs and the people that the Lord wishes to provide as support for His teenage daughters. I can say from personal experience that it helps a lot.
On Wednesday our Relief Society held a Galentine’s Day party. It was pretty amazing: manicures, facials, a crafting table, and an ice cream bar. Relief Society at its finest. We all made cute cards for each other. After painting my nails a modest pink, we got our heads together and brainstormed a line of nail polish just for sister missionaries, with such colors as “Jumpsuit White,” “Prayer Pink,” “Pearly Gates,” and “Virtuous Beige.” We’re looking for investors if you’re interested. Anyway, attendance was great, warm and fuzzies were at an all-time high, AND a member of the relief society presidency brought a friend. This friend is not a member of the church (yet) but had lots of questions for our member about her own missionary service and when we invited her to learn more with us, she eagerly accepted out offer.
On Friday we had an amazing lesson with her. As we prayed and prepared we had a feeling that the doctrines that we usually teach first weren’t exactly right for this lesson. Sister Walker said, “I think we should really focus this first lesson on her relationship–” and then I cut her off and said, “HER RELATIONSHIP WITH HER HEAVENLY FATHER YES YOU ARE 200% CORRECT” and she was. We showed the video “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” (which is a great one, go google it) and talked about how our biggest goal would be to help her strengthen her personal relationship with God. During this first lesson, her boyfriend tagged along and at first he was more observing but as the lesson went along he got more and more into it. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes as a missionary you can really feel God communicating through you via the Holy Ghost, and this was just one of those lessons. We don’t really have much power on our own but being a conduit for God’s power is incredible. We invited them to a church tour and our brand-new wonderful investigator said, “I’d love that! I’ll bring my mom!”
We saw another wonderful miracle this week in an investigator who we had been working with closely and who had been progressing really well, but who just seemed to fall of the face of the earth, as happens with investigators somehow. She is moving soon and has a lot on her plate and we had long felt that she would have a priesthood blessing at some point, but we were waiting for the right moment to bring it up. This week she told us that she didn’t mean to ignore us, just that she was having a hard time and the Spirit told us that this was her time for a blessing. Our mission president’s family have become some of her good member friends and we gathered at their house for Sunday dinner and for a priesthood blessing. President Christiansen put his hands on her head and, speaking as God would have if He were their personally ministering to her, told our investigator everything God wanted her to know. It was a beautiful and sacred experience for everyone involved. I was just sitting there feeling that familiar and wonderful burning in my chest as divine power filled the room. Afterwards we asked her how she felt and she said, “Peaceful. So peaceful.”
We also got an opportunity to be instructed by our President and his wife at zone conference this week. We really focused on the doctrine of repentance because we’ve been emphasizing the core of what we are doing lately. It was great. We also watched a short news clip about sister missionaries from some local station in Orlando together. It was funny to watch them present the ~hot issues~ relating to sister missionaries in that sensational manner that is so distinctive of the nightly news and we all kind of giggled through it. Then the anchorwoman asked the sisters she was interviewing about the aspect of our dress code where we are instructed to wear white or cream bras (which is a simple matter of looking professional like any other aspect of the missionary dress code) and the room got so, so silent. It was hilarious. Working with 18-year-old boys is entertaining enough to compensate for the lack of Netflix in my life.
We also had our weekly dodgeball extravaganza at the church where people invite their nonmember friends and have a good fun time and we awkwardly pretend to be normal people and figure out if anyone wants to learn more. You know, the usual. As I always do, I sat on the sidelines and read the Book of Mormon. Usually people are very respectful of my safe corner for sports haters but this week many stray balls ventured near me. In yet another wonderful miracle, every ball that came my way just barely seemed to miss me and I got a new nickname: “Samuel the Lamanitess” as per a Book of Mormon prophet who was protected from all the arrows that were shot at him by divine power. I also got to experience periphery to sporting functions during our meeting that we have weekly with the elders and the mission leader. Due to strange but immovable circumstances, we had to hold this meeting in the parking lot of a high school where a wrestling tournament was being held. I felt somewhat uncomfortable in this setting and our mission leader, ever unflappable, just looked at me and said “Are you… perturbed?” I was. It was okay, though, the spirit found us out there and we were able to have a great meeting out there.
Finally, on Saturday we met with a wonderful sister who had just been trained in the practice of reiki, where a practicioner (?) aligns the chakras of a recipient. When we were visiting with her she was like, “Can I please practice on you?!” and so I lay on the couch while she studied my energies and returned them to alignment. Surprising to no one, the chakra which is associated with communicating and being outspoken was dominating all my energies. Oh well.
To my wonderful friends… I love you. Happy Galentine’s Week. My address is 5455 Columbia Rd, Columbia, MD 21044. Write me. I will write you back.