the bloom abides

Where to begin?? Well this week we said goodbye to our sweet Sister Rogers, she traded places with Sister Anderson in Hagerstown. Sister Anderson is AMAZING and I have seen the way special people are prepared for special times in our lives. Sister Rogers was exactly the right companion for that time in my life and (more importantly) in the life of the area and now Sister Anderson is just exactly what we need. We also got two fresch new elders in the ward because the other two were needed elsewhere. I think this will be a bold new phase in the Winchester ward. It’s pretty exciting stuff. As a weird and wonderful farewell to Sister Rogers, we started teaching a family of twelve!! They consist of a mom and a dad and a whole bunch of their grandkids living with them. It’s been pretty cool on my mission to see how people can use the mighty force of love to create families that work even when things are hard or different than you expect or you end up raising ten of your grandchildren at once. The kids were so well-behaved and they loved what we were teaching them. We have a lesson with them tonight, I’m so excited for it. I love them so much.
Then we sent Sister Rogers off with a hug and a tear and brought Sister Anderson in. She has a powerful faith and determination, and she is so committed to fulfilling her purpose as a missionary. Every day this week I have come home completely exhausted and happy. We’ve been seeing huge miracles all week and we plan to continue seeing such miracles.
This weekend was highly eventful!! We had the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which is a big deal here. Like, they left off school early for the event. It’s just a giant parade and lots of other weird and magical things. We set up a little table downtown, which we were instructed should be after the manner of the Relief Society lessons from The RM. We gathered pink, green, and white (these are the Apple Blossom colors) burlap and lots of water bottles and pass-along cards. You know, the Relief Society classics. Anyway we had a ton of fun and a kid who lived nearby decided to be our sidekick and gave everyone free water as an act of service. So much pink and green.
Sister Anderson’s investigator, Buddy, also got baptized this weekend! We took our sweet investigator who had such a good time. Buddy is just this humble quiet guy. After he was baptized he stood in the water and said, “I definitely feel different. I’ve never felt this way before.” He just did not want to leave the font and we slowly filed back into the chapel while he and his friend who baptized him stood in the water, literally soaking it in. It was so sweet.
On Sunday our ward finally got a real chorister instead of me at the last minute waving my arms haphazardly. Whew. We also found a great new family to teach! We had dinner with one of our favorite member families (oh they have the BEST baby honestly, I could cry) and we were just walking around their neighborhood after dinner when we ran into a fellow walking outside his house. He told us that in Eritrea, where he is from, they were celebrating Easter that day. He was so excited about Jesus. We are too! Constantly! We talked to his brother-in-law whom he was visiting and he said, “Go home and teach!” and pointed at his house. We walked in and started teaching their family about the restoration. There was a major language barrier but the Spirit was so strong and I think they understood. I shared the first vision and our investigator Teddy’s face just lit up. He said, “Ahhhhhhh” and committed himself to follow the challenge in James 1:5 and to study and find out for himself if what the church is teaching is true. We were just coming from a dinner appointment so we were pretty full but when they invited us to partake of their Easter dinner of course we couldn’t refuse. They brought down injera and piled lamb and chicken and other food about a mile high and then spread several tablespoons of Sriracha over the whole thing. I thought, “This is it. This is the meal in my mission that won’t fit in my body.” It was so delicious and so so spicy and their was so much of it. I was praying with every bite and finally Sister Anderson excused us. They didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t clean our plates. I was sweating the whole time with the spiciness of it all.
Anyway I love you my friends. Here is your Apple Blossom scripture: “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27: 6 Israel is the family of God and our fruit is our good works! I love it!
Write to me, your friend. 841 Thomas Ct. #57 Winchester, VA 22601
Lots of love,
Sister Apple Blossom Festival
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