Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Just keep building up!

Wow.  Just.... WOW.  O_O  This week has been AMAZING!  And super fun too. :)

So, on Monday, we had a surprise waiting for us at the church building for a Zone activity: a member let us borrow sumo wrestler suits and we got to wrestle each other!  haha  It was super fun, and it was funny to watch everyone.  :)

(Sister Longhurst and I faced off. :) )
Anyways, on Tuesday, we went and read with the Hoaglands again.  It was just Kyle that time, and it was good to just work one-on-one with him.  Sister Hoagland was there, but she was busy helping me braid her hair (that's what I do every time I go there.  I don't really read with them, but I just sit there and work on braiding extensions into Sister Hoagland's hair.  I can comment to whatever they're reading though.).  Later that day, we went to the Petzingers, and we continued to teach AJ the lessons.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation, and the spirit was so strong.  It was really neat--after we were finished teaching, Brother Petzinger summarized it up in a really personal way for AJ, and the spirit was really strong as he testified of the reality of the Plan of Salvation.  Sadly, she isn't willing to set a baptismal date yet, because her dad won't let her be baptized, but she agreed to try to just be her best and treat her dad kindly, and hopefully that will soften his heart.  The other thing that happened on Tuesday is that we had a Zone Gathering, where each companionship agreed to try to find a total of 40 investigators (aprox. 4 per companionship) by the end of the transfer (next Sunday).  It was a really spiritually uplifting meeting, and it was an incredible opportunity to watch the Spirit work through all of us to come to this decision.

Which made District Meeting the next day amazing.  Elder Hulet, our DL, took the opportunity to have us talk about what our fears are about finding new investigators, and what we can do to find them.  It was an awesome meeting, just as good as the Zone gathering.  We then had a lesson with Chandler Dickson and his friend Lucas, and the Elders came to help us since Lucas knows the Elders.  Well, Lucas had no interest in our lesson, but Chandler pretty much stayed interested.  We used sidewalk chalk to map out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then had a little game to go with each point.  It went pretty well, actually, considering the chaos of trying to keep Chandler and Lucas focused.  Yup.  It takes 5 missionaries to keep two 8-year olds focused.  Such is life.  Anyways, later on, we went to visit Sarah Adams, and she is just the sweetest person.  We just went in and sat and listened to her, and that was just what she needed.

Thursday, we went back to the Hoaglands, and started reading with them again.  But going in, both Sister Ma'ukoloa and I knew that we needed to invite Keenan to take the lessons.  And since Sister Ma'ukoloa is the one actually reading with them, we knew that it would be on her to invite him.  (Like I said, I work more so with Sister Hoagland, braiding her hair and helping her keep up with where we're at in the reading.)  So, she asked the two older kids, Kyle and Korena, about their baptisms and what it means to them.  They both gave great testimonies, and Kyle talked about the blessings of having the Priesthood too (he's a deacon).  Then she asked Kyle what baptism means to him.  When he replied that he didn't know because he hadn't been baptized, she invited him to take the lessons and to prepare to be baptized, and he said YES!!!!!  WHOOHOO!!!!!  Talk about a MIRACLE!  And not only that, but he asked if we could come by that Saturday!  O_O  We were like "Um.... YEAH!" :)  It was great.

Then Friday, we had a great visit with Terri.  I don't know if you remember, but we thought that a member lived at her home, so we knocked on her door back when I first came to Nampa, and she answered instead.  Well, I had the feeling that we should go visit her, and we did.  She's so sweet!  We had a good visit with her and got to know her background better.  All she wants is for everyone to be nice to each other!  And she talked a lot about her family history too.  She has a unique blend of cultures in her-- she's German, Irish, and Japanese and grew up in Hawaii.  We're thinking of inviting her to the family history center so that she can start tracing back her genealogy.

Saturday was SUPER busy.

So, we went to the Hoaglands, with lunch for them, and taught Keenan the first lesson.  After eating and getting him to sit down, we actually had a good lesson with him and he agreed to pray about what we taught him. :)  Then we went and finished pulling the weed at the house we were at last Saturday (District service again!), went to dinner, then we went to the church to give AJ a tour.  Sister Loomis, the Young Womens leader, come on the tour with us.  It was such a great experience!  We went around the building, showing her different rooms, and finished it in the chapel.  There was such a strong spirit there when we talked about Sacrament meeting, and about the purpose of the Sacrament.  It was really touching.  She loved all of the paintings in the hallways too.  Then after the church tour, we headed out to the Fries home and taught about Temple work.  We were so glad that the whole family could be there.  And even though David was super hyper, he actually understood some of what we taught him.  And I think it helped Brother and Sister Fries remember their own goal of going to the temple to be sealed as a family.  It was a great lesson.

So, we had THREE investigators come to church on Sunday!  AJ came (with her boyfriend), Keenan, and Francesca!  Francesca is this sweet girl who has been attending church for a year and plans to be baptized as soon as she's 18.  It's been difficult to get a hold of her recently because of some family stuff, but we've finally been able to catch each other, and we started giving her the lessons yesterday during the second hour.  She's so excited to go through the lessons so that she could be baptized!  And seriously, she's been coming to church so long that you wouldn't think that she wasn't a member!

Well, I think that's it for this week. :)

Next week, I'll try to email, and I should be able to since I'm in Nampa.  But just in case I don't....

These past 18 months have been incredible.  I don't know how else to explain it.  Between all the tears, yelling, screaming, and awkward moments, I have found the most inexplicable joy serving Gods children and bringing them closer to Christ in the way they needed to come closer to them.  It has been hard work, but it has been worth it.  And now as I near the end of this beautiful, incredible, and crazy journey, I can look back with a sense of peace, and know that I have accomplished what the Lord needed me to accomplish.  I love this Gospel, and I know that it's true.  I may not always follow it perfectly, but I know that I can always strive to be better, and I will become better through Christs Atonement so that I can return home to my Father, with my family--past, current, and future.  And thank you to all of you, who have been such a great support to making my mission so amazing.  I love and appreciate all of you.

Keep calm, carry on, and so we go.


Sister Empey

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