Monday, February 10, 2014

Week 26: Goodbye, Red River

One time it snowed and the entire state freaked out.
Whoosh.  I’ll try to keep this short.  Yes, it was my last week in Shreveport.  Last week in Louisiana too, for the time being.  It was here I learned many valuable things: what shingles are; how to sleep with one arm off the bed; what it feels like to spend Christmas away from home; how to handle a rake; that Joseph Smith truly was the prophet of the Restoration; and that Thomas S Monson is God's true prophet today.  You know, the usual stuff.

As a last hurrah, my comp and I forewent driving to the church to run around the gym for our exercise hour (nevermind the fact that we didn’t actually have a car with which to do so, as it’s in the shop) and instead jogged across the street to the high school track.  I ran up the stadium steps, like I used to do every morning when I first got here, and said my farewells at the top of the bleachers, the whole cold barely-lit city laid out before me.  “Thanks for the memories, old Skreve.  I will miss you.”

I wanna adopt the Smith family k thx
Dee* still hasn't made it to church, but last week we were able to give her a church tour.  It was way more amazing than you might expect.  We as members often take for granted the special Spirit that resides inside those walls, but when you step back and experience it with people that have only ever been around rock bands, pulpit-pounders, and mass baptisms, you find that the reverence inside our simple but hallowed meetinghouses is pure and lovely and that we are so blessed to be weekly partakers of this blessing of the Restoration.  Tanner, a recently returned missionary, helped us lead the tour (since I've never done this before and would other wise would have been like "um. this is a class room. we learn stuff here.")  He helped us teach her about the necessity of priesthood authority, esp. concerning the ordinance of baptism when we showed her the font.  We gave a background of every painting in the hallway, and I told the story of the sons of Helaman.  I told her about the incredible faith they had in God because of the teachings of their mothers, and she looked at her pre-teen son and said "how bout that, huh?"  When they sat in the chapel, the stillness was such as even I have never noticeably felt, and they sat in the front pew for a moment together, the little fam of three.  She asked her son how he felt about it all.  "Do you feel God here?" she asked.  "Yes," he quietly answered.  And she agreed.  I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out in joy, lest I break the peaceful silence.  Sister Sellers played the piano then, and I sang "I Know that My Redeemer Lives."  Always end with a testimony of the Savior.  He's what makes this all possible.

Dee's son also told me that after I committed him to start praying, he'd prayed for help in school and promptly saw a boost in his grades.  I was so happy.  I have so much love for that family.  The daughter had made me a beautiful goodbye card when they found out I was leaving and I hugged and hugged her.  I hope the sister that takes my place will know what to say to help them progress even further.  All the way to the strait and narrow.

my best friend Bailee

Other cool thing of the week - after all my hugs goodbye after church (I'm going to miss my ward family so much) we sisters got to go run the LDS booth at the World Religions Fair at the community center.  A Hindu guy gave us free bananas, several teenagers doing school projects asked us questions and took Books of Mormon, and I was interviewed for TV by the news lady.  I was on KTBS 3 last Sunday.  Cool, huh?
Representin at World Religion Day

This is a seemingly insignificant story in comparison, but it was such a plain expression of mercy that I have to share.  Sister Sellers and I were on bikes last Saturday and we hopped off to approach a house.  As I pulled off my helmet, it caught on my earring and I felt it rip off.  Initiate: panic search.  Leaves covered the ground and we pulled off our tags, hoping the magnet on the back would pick it up, but fifteen minutes later it was still lost.  Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal - I don't even wear jewelry hardly - but these earrings were a gift.  Indian-made turquoise earrings from my sister in New Mexico.  Naturally, losing one was a little distressing.  We had both prayed in our hearts to find it, but as I started to say another one, a thought came to me, as though Heavenly Father was speaking back - "Who do you love more?  Me or your sister?"  I would give my right leg for my sister.  But at this moment, I realized that although God loves to give to those who ask, at this moment He was going to test my dedication to Him and His work.  With a bit of a heavy heart, I abandoned the search and got back to the work of salvation.
Sometimes weekly planning gets stressful
and half my hair ends up in braids

By the end of the day, I'd put the disappointment from my mind.  My conscience was clear - I had made a choice in full purpose of heart to show my commitment to my Heavenly Father and his work.  He could have left it at that, a great lesson learned.  But I guess He also decided to take this chance to teach me of His mercy.  As Sister Sellers and I knelt down to pray that evening, my heart stopped.  There on the carpet was the missing earring.  I don't know how He did it - because I'd felt it rip off earlier - if it had stuck to my clothes or my bike or something and just fallen off when we got in (after a full day of biking?  I'm so sure) but one way or another, God answered our prayers, this time with "Yes - because I know it will make you happy."

I am not worthy of the least of all themercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant" [Gen 32]  "But behold, I, [Sister Valdez], will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power ofdeliverance." [1 Nephi 1]

Orange Leaf - a Shreve sister tradition

...is a team effort
Toe-loss prevention...
I'll let ya know soon what Mississippi's like!

Sister Valdez

Elder Joseph. Mah brutha.
Elder Headman, my artistic friend

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