This week started off with teaching a family that we always visitnights. They are avid hunters, their dress of choice is head-to-toe camouflage- even if they have not gone outside all day! When you walk into their house, the first thing you notice is all of the skins. They have mountain lion skins everywhere, and the walls are covered with heads of bears, moose and elk. We have been trying to stress the importance of baptism to their family. They have two children who could be baptized, but they want to do it in the month of June in the Snake River. They are very, very "outdoorsy" and want it to be a private affair in nature. Well, the Bishop is not too pleased with that, so we try to do the best that we can! They just do not see why it is important for their children to be baptized as soon as possible. They also eventually want to get sealed in the Temple, but the key term here is "eventually". They are certainly in no rush to even go to Church! By all means, I am open to any ideas, suggestions, and stories anyone may have. I feel like we have tried everything to motivate them, but to no avail.
On Tuesday we were able to go to Devotional, and it was about creating a Zion in your Apartment (or home :). The speaker said that you needed three things: Love, Shared Responsibility, and Mutual Respect. As he was talking, it struck me that those are the three things we need to emphasize with our Sisters. Sister Woods and I are over fourteen other Sisters in the Northern part of the Mission, and it seems like all of them are struggling with one issue or another. A lot of times, it can be a lack of communication. Most of the time, we cannot fix their problems for them. It also would not be much of a service to them; they will have trials for the rest of their life, and they need to figure it out! As we were listening to Devotional though, it struck me that those three principles are what I need to emphasize with our Sisters to help them get along and feel the Spirit in their apartments. I also know that those three things are what I am going to try to incorporate with my future roommates and family.
A big problem that we have in Idaho is our Fellow-shippers. Now, don't get me wrong, we have plenty of people that want to help out. They will friendship anyone who is investigating the Church, and are simply wonderful. The Youth especially are more than happy to do that, but the big problem we have with the Youth and Young Single Adults is that they are not the best examples. All of the adults are perfect, but a lot of the people we teach are ages 11-25. They can appreciate and enjoy the company of someone older, but at the end of the day our investigators think of them as a mother or father figure, not a friend. We need the Youth and Young Single Adults to step it up! So often we find people that are just comfortable where they are at in the Gospel. This needs to change! We need the Youth to become converted to the Gospel, and to see the importance of it. That way, they will be able to communicate it to their friends. Sometimes, it does not even matter if the people are Returned Missionaries!in a YSA Ward on Campus, two Returned Missionaries were snickering behind us the whole time, mocking one of the speakers and how "fresh" from the Mission he was. Before the Mission, I might have turned around and smacked them on the head with the Hymnal, but I have learned to be more Christlike. A lot of times too, if people have grown up in a highly concentrated LDS environment, they do not realized how blessed they are. They do not have friends that do not have the Gospel, and see how different their lives are. So again I reiterate, we need to strengthen the Youth! I am however very happy with Come Follow Me, the new Youth curriculum, and wish that it had been institutionalized earlier. Maybe then, we would have better examples for the people we teach. Hopefully though, in a few years the missionaries here will not just have good fellow-shippers, but exceptional ones!
One of the girls we are teaching is named Halle (pronounced Hal-ee), who is in our family Stake that we cover. She moved here from American Falls, and had never heard of the Church before she moved here. She has such amazing faith. Her friends that are LDS are not the best, but she has gained a testimony of the truthfulness of what we teach. The only difficult thing is her Rodeo practices. She is horse-crazy, wears cowboy boots with her belt buckles all the time, and at times reminds me a lot of Hailey my big Sis! Halle does Rodeo practices every other night up in St. Anthony, and at the drop of a hat (haha! Cowboy hat!) she might have to cancel our lessons. She wants to be baptized so we are working on setting a date with her. The biggest thing is that we want her Mom to be involved too, because her Mom knows nothing about the Gospel either. We want to teach the Mom at the same time, so at least if Halle's Mom doesn't choose to be baptized, she can at least understand what commitments her daughter is making and what she believes in.
We had interviews with our Mission President on Friday, and it was very exciting. President Brinkerhoff told us that five Apostles would be coming to our mission within the next month, and one of them will be speaking to us on! It is pretty exciting because this only happens to the Mission once every four years. I am constantly just thankful for everything I have and all of these opportunities! I found out that one of the possible Apostles that would speak to us would be Elder Oaks. If so, this would be the third time I have met him on my Mission, and I am entertaining the idea of asking him why the Lord keeps on putting him in my life :) Regardless of the speaker, will be a wonderful day!
It was also great to talk to my Mission President. Normally, we only get about three minutes with him, but because my companion and I are Sister Training Leaders we got ten! A lot of the time I feel like I am not doing a lot for the Sisters I am over. I try my best, but I just don't even think I am making that much of an impact most of the time. President Brinkerhoff told me though that he felt very strongly and specifically impressed that I needed to be a Sister Training Leader at this time, and that I would make more of a difference with the Sisters I serve rather than my Area and Investigators. It was kind of nice but .... different at the same time. I am glad that I can help other Sisters, but I also want to make a difference in the people I teach! Oh well though, I will just continue on doing the best I can!
Later that day we had a baptism of our investigator, Josh. It was a beautiful service. His Home Teacher baptized him, and his roommate confirmed him the following. It was wonderful to see Josh keep his commitment and make those covenants with Heavenly Father.
I got Josh a journal and wrote my testimony inside, which is one of my favorite things to do :) Through out the entire time that I teach someone, I tell them to write in their Journal every day their thoughts and feelings. I know that years later they will enjoy looking back at those, and it is a lovely record for their children to be able to read too. Also, I just enjoy bearing my testimony! Something that President Gilliland in Nauvoo told me that I needed to do on my Outbound was to bear my testimony of the Savior and the Restoration as often as I can. I love to include parts of "The Living Christ" when I write my testimony because I feel that often times the words of the Prophets can succinctly and effectively communicate the emotions and testimony that I have. I know that the way I have experienced the most joy in my life has been through helping people gain faith, help them repent, and guide them to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the proper Priesthood authority from God. The moment that they are given the gift of the Holy Ghost is a special one, and I cannot imagine what I would do without it. I know that it helps us make correct choices, and is an invaluable gift from Heavenly Father.
Josh's Baptism also was a special experience because two of our investigators on Campus came to the Baptismal Service. Each remarked on how they felt the Spirit so strongly, and it helped to strengthen their conversion. We were also able to give the investigators that were present a Church Tour before and after the Baptism. Kylie was one of the two investigators who came, and she really enjoyed it. She is from Arizona and came to BYU-Idaho because of her friend. We got a text on Tuesday with her address saying that she wanted to take the lessons, but we could not find her for the life of us! The address was her dorm's mailing address at the Post Office, but by a miraculous turn of events we were able to find her apartment. We taught her, and she is so prepared. She has studied the Bible her whole life, and everything that we teach her makes sense to her. It is so wonderful to see her testimony grow every time that we share a lesson, and Kylie is going to be baptized in February!
Funny Moment: So my companion Sister Woods is from England. She is from the most north-eastern part of England, so naturally her accent is a little different that what you would hear from someone in London and southern England like Essex. Normally we hear on TV people from those parts though, but straight away I could tell that she was British. The funny thing is though, that not everyone can tell!
People always ask her where she is from. It is hilarious to see people's guesses. For some reason everyone thinks she is from Australia! Let me tell you, she sounds nothing like an Australian. One time just before Sacrament Meeting a woman came up to us and said that the Ward was taking bets on where she was from, and most thought she was from Australia or New Zealand. Her reply of, "Sorry Love- but I'm British!" did not even remedy the situation. The lady argued with us and said that she sounded more Australian though, and maybe she was getting some American tones in her words. Again, it was funny because Sister Woods is actually tone-deaf and it is virtually impossible for tone-deaf people to slip into other accents. Luckily for poor Sister Woods though, there turned out to be an Austrailian student sitting behind us and put the matter to rest that Sister Woods was indeed from England.
Without fail, her nationality is brought up every dinner appointment and every time we teach. Sometimes I like to tease her and actually tell people that she is from Australia, much to her displeasure. The funny thing is now that everyone comments on her accent, we notice other's accents even more!
We were teaching a familynight, and the Father and two sons have the thickest Idaho accent I have ever heard! Mix two sleep-deprived missionaries with "accent awareness", an awkward Dinner Appointment and thick Idaho Accents, there was no hope for us that night. We were reading aloud from the Book of Mormon stories, and when the son started to read Sister Woods and I just lost it. Tears were streaming down our face, and we were trying not to audibly laugh. It made it even worse when we looked at each other, and so we erupted in giggles. The family asked us what was going on, so we explained. The father looked at us and said, "We dern't have Idaho Accents" and then, when he realized what he said, we all started to laugh!
Needless to say, every day is a party with Sister Woods :)