I admit, I thought this was a random place for mission president to throw me after tearing my beloved Waveland away from me (jk I know it was the Lord who did the tearing) but after orienting the new Waveland elders on the way back to our apartment (while a beautiful sunset fell over the coast) and handing off the keys, we made it to Slidell after dark and pulled into a gas station; when my companion got out of the car to fill up, there was this very quiet, very significant moment, where I felt what I assume was the Spirit (funny how it can feel slightly different every time) filling the space inside the car, and inside my chest, with this warm reassurance that "Yes, you're in the right place. This is your home now. This is where you're needed."
And boy am I ever. There are SO MANY part member families in this area, people who have living examples in their homes of the blessings of the gospel, many who have taken the missionary lessons or currently are still, who have or are reading the book of Mormon, who are SO CLOSE to conversion, they're right there, right on the edge of glory (shout out to Lady Gaga) and I guess I'm here to - whoosh! - flick em over the brink. It's weird
My companion is sweet Sister Schulthies, from Utah. She's dying this transfer - I know right? Told Pres to just call me Sister Grim Reaper - and she's super cute and blond freckled and floats around like Sleeping Beauty or something, all soft and graceful. Every night when I turn out the lights she says, "Good night! I love you!" I, on the other hand, have become somewhat of a bold-faced slammer.
We were visiting this one less active, who has all the missionaries that come over sign baseballs while he makes them food and reeks of alcohol. I figured this passive visiting had been going on too long, and found myself hardcore testifying of God's love for him while rebuking him at the same time. He kinda shrunk in his seat and made a good cop/bad cop joke to my companion. Better believe it, buddy. We were at a members house whose husband isn't a member but has taken all the lessons and read the whole Book of Mormon, and he said all us Mormons have a unique glow about us, all of us, and I said "Well, would you like to join us?" His wife got a kick out of that. And then in a family we're teaching, the mother was worried about people being prejudiced if her kids were Mormon, and I almost said "I'd sooner be arrested, imprisoned, and killed for my beliefs than think to complain of persecution or cease to do what I know is right in God's eyes" but didn't. I said something about eternal perspective and God's approval. But hopefully, they'll figure on their own that if this is true, nothing else matters. I don't know where all this courage and confidence and bluntness came from, but I like it. As long as it's like, doing more good than harm, that is. Can't never tell sometimes.
The apartment is super clean and tidy and has wood floors which makes sliding around in your socks really fun. Also, we got locked out today and the elders came over to try and help us break in, failed, damaged a few old ID cards in the process, and climbed trees while we waited for someone to come unlock it for us. A member owns the house at the address, and we live in the little pool house out back. It'd be even cooler if we could like, you know, use the pool.
There's a good number of Hispanics here (one set of elders in the ward are spanish speaking) and one lady, 92 years old, feeds us lunch every week. She doesn't speak English and we have very pieced conversations, but I was able to say a few things to her and understand some of what she says (two years in school + gift of tongues). I was reprimanded by someone at church for having a name like Valdez and not knowing Spanish. Thanks, el padre.
Wish I could tell you everything, but I'm outta time!
So in honor of Columbus day,
And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land. [1 Nephi 13]
God doesn't send us anywhere just for the heck of it. Always got a purpose, always got it under control. Love ya'll!