Gimme a P!
Gimme an I!
Put em together and what do you got?
P.I. Progressing Investigator. Lex came to church yesterday, which means for the first time since ever I got to put a joyful and triumphant "1" on my weekly report next to "progressing." Win. Next step: baptism. Sploosh!
In other news, another holiday down. And it was so so so special. Christmas Eve was fantastic. I stuffed myself into a pair of jeans that seem to magically shrink every time I put them on and we went out and raked for a sister who lives close by, then again for a less-active brother who's wife recently passed and who loves company more than anything in the world. He was tickled when he saw us out his window. Said he told his brother "Hey! There's a girl outside rakin my leaves!" "Nu-huh!" "Yeah! There's a bunch of em out there!" Yessir, three rake-weilding sister missionaries, and one in the trash can stomping down leaves to make room for more. He chatted with us while we finished the job, and when the lawn was pristine I asked, "So we gonna see you at church one of these Sundays?" and he says "Well yeah! I'm gonna have to come on over!" And he hasn't been in years. Pretty awesome what a little service, conversation, and invitation can do.
The rest of the day was spent at nursing homes. The first two housed ladies who's records were in the ward, but of course had not been to church due to their current state. We sang them Christmas songs out of the hymn book. Francine could barely talk, and labored hard to get out every syllable. But when we began to sing "Silent Night," she sang every word along with us. I almost couldn't finish the song, choking on tears. What a beautiful moment we were able to share, us and this woman in a place often regarded as "where you go to grow old and be forgotten." "We haven't forgotten you." "Neither has your Heavenly Father."
The last nurse care facility was the one we often go to as a district to sing hymns to the lot of them. Some of the ladies there know us missionaries pretty well. We knocked on Mary's door, and she was delighted to see us, hugging and kissing us, telling us how much she loves when we come as a group to sing and say hi to them, and how we come to her mind when she prays at night. She's a Christian woman if ever I saw one, and as such she accepted gratefully the Book of Mormon we gave her with a bow tied on it. You're never too old to learn more about Christ, am I right?
We spent the evening at a member's home in the ward, they gave us presents and played the Christmas devotional with the general authorities, and we read Luke 2 together, after I had everyone close their eyes and visualize the faint lights of Bethlehem, the faint sound of sheep in the fields, readying to hear the story of the greatest gift God gave the world. Downright lovely.
Christmas morning replaced our exercise 1/2 hour with present-opening around the construction paper tree taped to our wall, and staying in our pajamas til 7:30. Christmas day was three meal appointments and a dessert appointment, more presents from sweet members who know you can't go wrong with hair accessories, scarves and journals when it comes to sister missionaries. The Skype-call hour with our families was screams and tears of joy - even when it wasn't my family on the screen. Goodness. Frantic talking to try and get several months worth of our lives across the states to reach our loved ones in the West who can only picture all the people we meet every day, all the countless blessings and trials thrown at us by dozens. I have the best family. I even got to talk to Cassie, serving in New Mexico, for about five minutes, all her remaining time would allow. But it's cool. I got plenty of time with the rest of the fam. The evening was spent with the Shreveport ward - my second family - at the bishop's house for the Christmas sing-along. Two solid hours of singing Christmas songs with musical genius Bro Smith on the piano, banging out every song in the book as we followed along til we lost our voices; I took occasional breaks to rest my voice/chase all my fave primary kids around the house. I love them to bits. I've been here so long I can't imagine leaving this ward. Funny, huh? The level of attachment is ridiculous, when you're a missionary.
Funny thing about December 26 in the mission, is that it isn't a depressing day. Not for me, anyway. It was nice to get back to work and get productive again. I'll say again, the work has been so incredibly enjoyable with Sister Sellers around. I told her it's been a brighter place since she's come, and it has - she has this habit of opening all the blinds in our apartment. Yesterday, we were laughing about the difference between our area and South Shreve's area. Alma 31-32 describes our contrast to the T. They have the poor and humble. We have the Zoramites. But if that makes us Alma and Amulek, then I have no complaints. The thing about God, is he can prepare people wherever they live, skidrow or rampeumptom row. We were on one of the richest streets just a few days ago, and wouldn't you know it, we met a lady who was really excited we had a Book of Mormon for her! She'd taken her family to Utah, and Temple Square and thought it was all so nice she wants to live there. I guess those temple square sisters do get some good work done, huh? Certainly made this lady happy to see us.
Miracles of the moment: We contacted a referral the other sisters met at Walmart. She let us in, no problem, and we were able to teach to a question she had: "Why do bad things start happening when you try to go back to church?" Plan of Salvation. Purpose of life. Opposition in all things. Agency. Boom. After a little bit (we're getting better at 20 min lessons), she asked another, "How come there are so many churches?" and we were like Booyah, we got an answer for that, stay tuned. Up next: Restoration. Prophets, dispenstations, Christ's ministry, great apostasy, Joseph Smith. Holla. Who got the answers? We do. Tell your friends.
Second miracle. Last night, it was 8:30, we don't have to go in til 9:00, and there's very little to do at that hour, but going home early is no bueno. So we drove around a minute, hoping we were being led by the Spirit, when I finally turned in the direction of home and then realized we'd be passing a less-actives home soon. So we stopped at Rae's, and while we spoke with her in the driveway, her friend comes out of the house, up to us, shakes our hands and introduces himself. He's about to ship out to the Navy. Sister Sellers, who's a walking General Conference archive, remembered all the talks by general authorities who's lives were changed by having a Book of Mormon in the service, and pulls one out to tell him about. I showed him my fave scripture in Alma (37:36-37) about prayer, she directed that to Moroni 10:3-5, the challenge to read and pray, and Rae, the member, was there to testify. She was also grinning ear to ear, just like we were, at the prospect of this spontaneous chance to share the gospel with this good friend of hers before he set sail. And he seemed really grateful for it, being someone who hadn't been to church since he figured his preacher was corrupt, and knew he needed Christ in his life again. Goes to show, amazing things happen when you follow the Spirit, and don't go home early.
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the asons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse bnation, among whom ye cshine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
What we have is truly a light. It shines above everything else in this world. It is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And of it, I am not ashamed, not even a little bit. The rich can scoff, the ignorant mock, and I'll keep running, laboring. The day of Christ is near, and I'm not scared: I'm stoked!