This week was just simply wonderful! So first off, I totally adore Sister Russell's family. They are just incredible! They are so fun, and I will definitely go to Missouri to see them when she gets back from her Mission next year. It is so funny to me that before my Mission I wanted to see places, but now from being on my Mission for so long, I think the only traveling I will ever do will to go see people! It will be a blast though, and it is because I love them all so much!
Last Monday we spent the day with Sister Russell's family for most of the day! It is such a treat to be in Nauvoo where we are allowed to see our families. After morning studies, we were able to go to the temple with her entire family and her best friend, Brett, who was just baptized a week earlier. It was so precious, especially because it was the last time they would all be together for a few years since her younger brothers will be leaving on Missions soon. After the temple, we all went to Keokuk for our monthly shopping trip and to go out to eat. After that, we were able to go to see The Promise, which is a musical that the Young Performing Missionaries put on. The YPM's were simply incredible! They are sooo good this year, and it is a joy to watch them perform.
On Tuesday, we were then able to go to the Nauvoo Burial grounds in the morning for our exercise time with Sister Russell's family. It is so beautiful to be there, and to feel that special spirit. On the way back, Sister Russell and her two younger brothers and I sat in the bed of the lifted Chevy and man, it was so nice to just sit, relax, and to feel the breeze. So often as missionaries we are constantly on the go, and never have time to relax. (The whole myth that P-day is a day to relax is a myth. It is the busiest day of the week!) So it was just wonderful to be comfortable, be in good company, and to have a minute of peace and quiet as we drove back into town on Parley Street, feeling the sunshine! The rest of Tuesday we sent Sister Russell's family out to sites, and that night we were able to go get ice cream and say goodbye. They are just such wonderful people, and I look forward to seeing all of them again!
Wednesday was a normal day in the Visitor's Center, but Thursday and Friday Sister Russell and I were both sick! Sister Russell got it on Thursday, and was just out that whole day. She slept an additional 8 hours, and definitely needed it. I worked that whole day in the house, cleaning and cooking, but at the end of the day I could feel I was coming down with it too. Then, on Friday morning the roles switched and Sister Russell was completely fine while I slept an extra TWELVE hours to get over the sickness. Yikes. It was crazy but wonderful at the same time. I cannot believe that I went to bed at 10:30 on Thursday night, slept till 6pm on Friday, and was still able to go to bed at 10:30 on Friday night too. All I can say is that I am lucky the VC was slow that day, and that the Assistants, Sister Hall and Sister Holt are amazing and covered our shift. Seriously, I am so blessed to be with the Sisters that I am with! I think I will have to take more pictures of them and send them to you guys so you can hear how awesome they are.
This week, Nauvoo has been the home to the ethnic performing group from BYU called Living Legends! Can I just say, they are all so talented and all of the girls in the group are stunning. My goodness, it almost seemed to be like it was a requirement for them to be beautiful to go on tour or something! So this whole week we have had them coming to the outside stage and performing every night to the guests who are here. It has been really fun, and we were able to watch their show too! It was so fun to watch the Native American and Latin dancing, but I think my favorite was to listen to the Polynesian singing. They are all incredible singers and very fun to joke around with during the slow times in the VC!
On Saturday, all that I can say is RENAISSANCE FAIR! In Nauvoo, we do this traveling program called Nauvoo on the Road where a few young Sister Missionaries and Senior Missionaries travel to different local fairs, and while playing pioneer games with the kids and adults we invite them to come see Nauvoo. On Saturday it was Sister Russell's and my turn to go, and we went to Keokuk for a Ren-Fair! It was so delightfully...... hilarious. I am not bashing Ren Fairs, but this one was truly one for the record books. The main highlight of the day was the sword fighting troupe, full of 40-year old men with long hair who's title was, "The Brotherhood of Steel- full of wit, and massive sex appeal! My word, it seems almost scandalous to even type that as a missionary, but that is what their title and motto was! It was sooo funny, and I know I will be telling stories about that day for a LOOOng time. You will just have to wait till I get home to hear them all ;)
As of recently, I felt for about a day or so that I had fallen into a rut. I felt that I was trying my best, but I felt that I was not progressing with my missionary work. I know that I had and still was feeling the Spirit when I taught, but it was not as strong as it once was. I want all of my experiences to still be as fresh as when I first came on my Mission, when everything was new, and so sharp to my senses. After thinking about this, and after the following experience, I came to realize that I still have wonderful, spirit lead lessons, it is just that I sometimes do not take the time to recognize them as I once did.
I was sitting in the Teaching Center one night when I received a prompting to call one of my Recent Converts from Idaho. For his sake, we will call him J. J was a student at BYU-Idaho when I served there. He was just incredible to teach; prepared by the Lord, sensitive to the Spirit, and always seeking to know the truth for himself. The say of his baptism is one of the happiest days of my life, and I still look back on it so fondly. When J was baptized, he did not know how his parents would react so he ended up not telling them. When Jacob got back home for the Summer Break, he finally told his parents. Much to his dismay, they have banned him from going to church, force him to watch Anti-Mormon videos on YouTube, and threw out his scriptures. I found all of this out about a week and a half ago, and made the commitment to J that I would teach him as much as I could to be able to help him still feel the Spirit while he has to live at home.
So given that back-story, I felt prompted to call him two nights ago. As I prepared for the teaching experience, I prayed and asked the Lord what I should teach J about. I felt that I needed to review Joseph Smith's testimony with J. As I called, and we started to discuss Joseph Smith, I realized that the Lord truly had guided my thoughts and actions that night. J was particularly struggling with the knowledge and testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He believes everything else, even that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, but because of all of the Anti-Mormon literature- he has had a lot to think about. Together we reviewed and talked about Joseph Smith's life, and I was able to testify to him of the truthfulness and the divinity of Joseph Smith's calling. J was quiet for a moment, and I felt prompted to invite J to see the Nauvoo Pageant. J said that he will be able to come, and I am overjoyed! I know that as J feels the Spirit of Nauvoo, that he will be strengthened and be able to increase his faith. I have never been more grateful than now to have been assigned to labor here in the Nauvoo Visitor's Center than I am right now. Heavenly Father truly does have his hand in the little details!
The times that Sister Russell and I were able to be here it was very successful. We were able to get a few new investigators over some phone calls and Chat. I am excited to be here, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary!