I can't believe it's December! I love this time of year. It's been so fun riding around the neighborhoods and seeing all the Christmas decorations and lights. We're definitely using this holiday season to our advantage as we talk to as many people as we can each day. Compliment their Christmas lights, ask them about the true meaning of "joy", talk about their nativities... Instant gospel conversations!
Despite what I had hoped, being a missionary does not automatically bring super power people skills. Talking to people is still scary! My companion and I are working really hard at being bold and getting out of our comfort zones. We're making goals each day for the number of people we want to talk to about the gospel. We've learned that the trick is to talk to people already outside, that way we don't get doors slammed in our faces! It's hard to just strike up a conversation with anyone, for me at least. Is it nerve-wracking? Yes. Is it stressful? Yup. Is it awkward? Of course! But guess what. We're missionaries of Christ's true, restored church and we want the world to know the happiness and joy we have!
We had Sister Dees, one of our Sister Training Leaders, here with us on Saturday. Originally I was supposed to go with her companion to her area for the day but there was a scheduling conflict, so we worked in a trio! She gave us a lot of great advice and complimented our hard work, despite our difficult area. She helped us meet our goal of talking to people that day. We met an older guy named Howard who was walking his dog. I noticed he was wearing a Sacramento Kings hat so I started talking to him about basketball, Jimmer, BYU, how we were missionaries for that church, BINGO! We were able to share our beliefs and ask about his religion (look at me making sports connections- Dad are you proud??). Howard wasn't interested but he was very nice and thanked us for stopping to talk to him. I'm glad we did! The more people we talk to, the more people we will find who are interested. We just have to be brave! And open our mouths! The Lord is helping us feel confident. We won't find a miracle unless we are working for it.
We visit a sweet lady named Marsha every Friday afternoon. I call her the "fortune-teller lady" because she always says she can sense our strong spirits and tells us our paths of life. She is very close to God and acknowledges Him in everything. I love talking to her and hearing about the many miracles in her life. Anyway, this past Friday was the first time she let us in her house (usually we have doorstep conversations). She had us sit in her "sanctuary", a room covered with carpet cut-out hearts, drawings of angels, and a giant cross. It was quite interesting! She asked me to read her a "good word" so I gladly took the chance. I felt prompted to read in Alma 26, about Ammon and his strength in God. I started giving background, explaining it was from the Book of Mormon, and she freaked out because it was "Joseph's book" (referring to Joseph Smith) and that it would bring division in her sanctuary. She ranted about the Bible being God's only word and how she soaked a Book of Mormon in her holy water years ago when previous missionaries gave her one (haha).
After a few minutes of this, she turned to me and said "I'm sorry I offended you. Your spirit is sincere so you may read it". My companion and I explained to her that we do believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon is there to support it, how they both testify of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I immediately thought of Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" and used that as an introduction to Alma 26:12: "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold many miracles have we wrought in this land for which we will praise his name forever". She loved it and said it was beautiful, then asking me to read another verse. Of course I did! So grateful the Spirit prompted me to share that with her. We had a great discussion about the Book of Mormon, the peace that it brings, and how we should give God glory for everything we do. The whole chapter of Alma 26 is awesome and it makes me feel good about my missionary efforts. I recommend reading it!
I almost forgot to mention our Thanksgiving dinner! So we went to the Polynesian family's house, expecting a pig and island food (they are from Fiji) because that's what he told us he was going to make. We were surprised! The wife worked as hard as she could to prepare us the most American Thanksgiving meal so we could feel "at home" for the holiday- turkey, potatoes, rolls, pie, everything. It was so sweet! Their son and grandchildren were supposed to join us, but because their son was in rehab and his crazy wife took the children elsewhere for the holiday, it was just the four of us. It was a wonderful meal and they were so kind to feed us!
Yesterday, during the testimony meeting at church, the wife who fed us got up to share her testimony. She told the congregation about what a blessing it was to have the sister missionaries over to fill their table on Thanksgiving when their family couldn't. She said she felt like the Savior was at the table with us and that's what she needed to feel during this rough time. Hearing this made me cry! I had no idea we had such an impact. I learned how blessed these families are that sacrifice to feed us. I'm so glad we got to spend Thanksgiving with that sweet couple and bring the Spirit with us.
You never know what kind of influence you can have! I hope you all have a great week. I love you and miss you! As always, thank you for the constant support and prayers. I am so grateful for the love I feel each and every day.