| Sister Whitehead, the most hilarious ward member we have. |
Well this week was good! The last couple days of Sister Malloy being here we had lotsa food and visits with members, and then we had Zone Conference on Wednesday. It was sad to say goodbye to Sister Malloy and see her go, but exciting for her as well. I'll miss our little trio! In our zone Conference we had on Wednesday, among other things we talked about strengthening the wards we serve in. President Griffin said, "These wards have 10 or 15 people who are working hard -- who are tired. Do what you can to uplift them and take the burdens onto your shoulders." This couldn't have been more true. Sister Guevara and I talked after and felt that we both felt very inspired to do this in our ward--to really reach out to those without Visiting Teachers and those less actives who need to return. This leads up to our experience with the Bowes' family.
So last week, I'd felt inspired to call a Sister Bowes off the ward list. We called, and turns out it was a number they don't usually answer - but she did, and let us know her address and welcomed our visit. When we got there, we were greeted Sister Bowes -- fun, bubbly, very sweet sister who was SO excited to have missionaries at her door! She described her story, including the burden of her part-time job on top of raising a 12 and 13 year old, an autistic 17 year old, and caring for both her husband who had mental damage from serving in the militairy in the 90s, and another old family friend who she's dedicated most of her time and money in the last few years to. And how the missionaries had found her a few years ago at a yard sale, and she was baptized soon after. Our first visit we really just got to know her, and told her we'd come back. That Sunday the whole family made it to church for the first time in about a year.
ANYWAYS! On Friday we called an active sister to go with us. This sister's husband just began chemotherapy and was throwing up all day, but she still said yes she would go! So she came with us to visit Sister Bowes. They immediately connected. We began a lesson on the Savior's Atonement, and Sister Bowes, so cute, pulled out a notebook and took notes on everything we said. At the end of the lesson Sister Byers bore her testimony and began crying, testifying of Jesus Christ and also relating her experience of caring for her own family members to that of Sister Bowes'. Afterwards, Sister Byers thanked us for the oppurtunity to serve, she felt blessed for her sacrifice. This is what it's all about!
We had two more appointments after this one, and we needed a team-up for them so bad, but had already called everyone that we thought we could. We went to the library to do mormon.org, and there was Sister Lackey from the ward. We told her our situation and she said, I'd love to take you to the appointments! So we went and taught Nikki, who's doing well, and then an investigator named Laurel. We had a good lesson with Laurel (see picture) and invited her and her family to church and they almost came, but she had back pain so didn't end up coming. But she's progressing pretty well. Best of all, it really boosted Sister Lackey's confidence to be taking the missionaries around- she wants to do it again! Sometimes team-ups are just as much for the members as they are for the missionaries.
Another thing we'd wanted to do was go to Seminary and talk to the students there about coming unto Christ and helping them get more involved in missionary work. So we woke up earlier on Friday, not really sure what we were doing -- but as soon as I walked into the seminary room (in our theater-church building) and felt the spirit of those youth and adults who'd sacrificed to be there so early, I felt the Spirit affirming we were supposed to be there. We shared a short message with them and gave them excitement to share the gospel this year with their friends and talked about the different ways we could do that! It was great. After we studied, we called a sister in the ward to come with us to a less active family.
On Sunday the whole Bowes family came to church and met everyone. There is no feeling like seeing a full family return to activity and seeing the smiles on their faces and everyone around them. One of the most rewarding experiences was, last night Sister Bowes calls us with an emergency. Her mother had been involved in a hit and run and was going to the hospital. As soon as we let the YW pres and RS pres know, they had meals lined up and the Bishop planned to go visit them. This sounds small and simple but it was HUGE because things like that don't always happen back here!
So we just really feel the need to help the ward, and raise their faith and their vision, and I know that ours will raise as we do so as well. I am excited to continue the work of Salvation, through helping and serving the members, and inviting souls to really truly be converted.
I hope yall are being converted as well daily.
|Smoky Mountain Hermana|