Monday, March 31, 2014

Letter #27 (March 24, 2014)

Holy cannoli. I don't even know where to start. A LOT happened this week. I was seriously the coolest week of my mission thus far.

I guess I'll start with the silly stuff.

So first, we are teaching this couple (I wrote about them before, James and Adriana) and they live in a gated apartment complex. Well. There is a really simple way to break into the back gate (we have permission to go in, but Adriana doesn't know how to buzz us in so we have to sneak in instead). But they fixed the gate! Sister Child and I were like, "are you serious?!" The trick to get in has been passed down generations of missionaries! They can't just fix it! Dang it! There are members in the same complex though, so they can USUALLY let us in. We still haven't figured out how to get in if they aren't home. Oh well.

Another silly thing. We borrowed the elder's vacuum because ours is broken. So we asked them about getting it back to them and they told us to just drop it off at their pad. They told us that they always leave it unlocked because their key disappeared somewhere down the road with past elders. But get this: One of the sisters that I lived in the 6-pad with used to serve in this ward, so when she found out that I was serving here, she gave me two keys from this area. One of them is some sort of key to a church building, and the other one is "an apartment key for some missionary pad, I don't know which." So as soon as I get to Glendora, I ask Sister Child and her previous comp if they know what the keys go to. Nope. So they just sat on my dresser for a couple of weeks. So when the elders told us that, I look at Sister Child and say "no way, I think I have their key!" She was skeptical. But we tried it out and it totally was! So we saw the elders right after we dropped the vacuum off and played it cool. "We are SO sorry elders, but we forgot and locked your door." They looked like we just told them that someone blew up their puppy. Then I whip out their key "luckily, I've got your key." I don't think that it registered at first. Then the one elder's eyes got SO big. It was hilarious.

Okay, now that I have probably bored you with stories that I think are super funny, let's get on to the crazy spiritual awesomeness.

Oh man.

Okay, so first of all, for any of you that I have hard core talked to, you know that I have always struggled with recognizing promptings from the Holy Ghost, and that has been really hard on me because I try SO hard to do everything that I'm supposed to and really pay attention to my thoughts/feelings/etc. So basically when I feel like I might be getting a prompting, I just act on it and hope for the best. Usually absolutely nothing happens from it, which has been really frustrating, especially since I have missionary friends who have countless stories about receiving miraculous promptings. So one night we were out with a member and we were just going around inviting people to a RS activity that we had this Thursday. Well, we're driving around and I get this idea that we should stop by this one lady's house (her name is Sylvia). She is a potential that we have stopped by SO many times and she has never been home. So Sister Child is like "are you sure?" and I'm just thinking, I can't NOT follow this, because what if it really is something for once? So I said "yeah, I mean, it can't hurt right?"
So we stop by. And she was there. We didn't invite her to the activity, but we DID set a return appt for the next day!

And THEN we stopped by another semi-investigator that lives right across the street from Sylvia. Again, we've stopped by a few times and nothing. So as we knock on the door, we hear someone crying and when Karen opens the door, we hear a door slam. She was having a really tough time with her son who has some severe anxiety. She was hesitant to let us in because obviously it was a bad time, but Sister Child and the sister that came out with us talked to her about the activity and everything. I was standing there having an internal battle. I felt like we needed to share this Mormon message called "Mountains to Climb" (if you haven't seen it, look it up. For reals). But I'm just thinking "I don't know her, this is obviously not a good time, I don't want to bother her" etc. But again, I didn't want to completely reject a prompting if that's what it was. So as the conversation is winding down I just say "Karen, I really feel like we need to show you this video. It won't take long at all, it's just a few minutes long." At first she kind of gave me "well, maybe another time" kind of thing, but finally she invited us in with a "let me just check on my son really quick." When she came back, I pulled the video up on my ipad and set it in front of her. When the video was over, she really opened up about what has been happening with her son and everything. She told us that she feels so much peace and calm when we are there. As we were leaving, she told me that she is really glad that I showed her the video. 

It was so incredible. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who can multitask like that. He gave me a prompting through the Holy Ghost that not only got us an appointment, but also really helped one of his beloved children that was in need of some spiritual nourishment. I am so grateful to be a missionary. To be one of his servants. He really worked through me that day. That wasn't me at all, it was all Him.

Okay, so now about the best day ever. Which was Saturday. And we rarely have appointments on Saturday.

 So we had four appointments set this Saturday. One with Sylvia, one with Karen, one with James, and one with Gary (who I'm not sure if I've written about before or not, he's the one that learned about the church in prison). 

Sylvia's lesson went okay. She has some doubts, but she is really an amazing lady. She has so much faith and she has been through an awful lot. I think that as long as she allows us to keep teaching her, the Spirit will be able to testify of the truth of the things that we teach. 

Karen cancelled because she had a really bad migraine.

James' lesson was one of the best lessons that I have ever been involved in. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ while doing a church tour (best way to teach the gospel, I'll tell you what). So we started in the lobby and talked about Faith and Repentance there. Then we showed him the font (which he has never seen) and talked about baptism. He was practically giddy! He told us that he is getting really excited to be baptized! The Spirit was SO strong. We also talked about Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost at the fony. Then we brought him into the chapel and explained the sacrament (which he has, of course, taken) and talked about Enduring to the end. He was just so excited, it was such a sweet moment for us. After his lesson, Sister Child and I knelt down and thanked Heavenly Father for helping him to really feel the Spirit.

Our last lesson was also a church tour. We thought that James' lesson was good. This one was even better. Holy cow. So we did a more basic tour with Gary. For the most part. So we talked about how everything is centered on Jesus Christ. Then we brought him into the chapel and talked about how sacrament meeting works (with the speakers, and hymns and stuff). And then we brought him up to the sacrament table and explained the sacrament. He was so excited when he found out that he could start taking the sacrament before he is baptized! We of course explained that taking it now is just in remembrance of all that Christ did for us, whereas when we are baptized we have the added meaning to the sacrament (being that we renew our covenants and are re-cleansed when we partake of the sacrament). But he just seemed so happy that he didn't have to wait to take it.

But here is the best part. Earlier in the day as Sister Child and I were getting things ready for the tour, Sister Child (who also struggles with promptings) felt like we should have Gary go INTO the font. Which is not regular procedure for tours. I was kind of skeptical to be honest, but if I've learned anything this week, it's not to ignore anything that could possibly be a prompting. So we decided that that's what we would do.

So we lead Gary to the font, but we have the doors closed. We sit him down and watch a Mormon message (another amazing one) called "Choose This Day." After watching that, our member was crying, and Gary finally told us some of his concerns that we have been trying to dig out (discern) for ages. Then we opened the font and had him go around and step in. He immediately told us that he could feel a special feeling (the Spirit) as soon as he went down the stairs into the font. Then we had him close his eyes and Sister Child described what his baptism will be like, what will happen, how he will feel, etc. We were all crying by the end of that one. Gary looks up and is like "why is everyone crying all of a sudden?" It was funny, but he had tears in his eyes too. The Spirit was so crazy strong. It was amazing.

Now get this. While Sister Child was describing things to Gary, two elders walk into the church. I see one of the elders and I'm horrified. I'm just thinking "Don't ruin this moment! This is what everything has been leading up to!" I look at his face and he looks horrified too and quickly sneaks away silently. So after the lesson, we go talk to the elders (the other elder is our district leader) and the elder that I saw (Elder Smith) told us that he started to walk down the hall (the font is in the hall with a room in front of it that is just partitioned off from the hallway) and then felt like he hit a brick wall. He couldn't keep walking. That's when he saw us and figured out what was happening. I firmly believe that there was an angel pushing him away so that he didn't ruin the moment.

This week strengthened my testimony even more of the power of God and the Holy Ghost. I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to be an instrument in His hands. It is truly amazing. You know, returned missionaries would always tell us (when I was at home) that you can't describe a mission. I completely understand that now. I wish that all of you could feel what I felt this week. Words really can't describe this. It is just incredible.

So funny story really quick and then I promise I'll stop. After the lesson with Gary, we started walking to catch a bus to our dinner appointment. The bus passes us and stops at the bus stop that is still decently far from us. So we are sure that we just missed it, but keep walking. The bus just sits there. And sits there. And sits there. So we're thinking "we're actually going to make the bus! What the heck?!" So I am literally a few feet from the bus when the doors close and it drives away. We just start busting up. We couldn't care less. We had just had the best day ever. Who cares if we missed the bus? It was even funnier because the elders were passing us on their bikes right then and so saw the whole thing. Elder Pope (our district leader) yells "you have got to be kidding me!" We just laughed even harder and then found a ride to dinner. It was pretty funny.

Anyway, sorry about the novel, but this has seriously been such a crazy amazing week. For anyone that's not sure if they should serve or not: do it. You will have some of the hardest times of your life here, but you will also have some of the best. My first six months have been so hard. I have been in two areas that were just hard areas. I worked SO hard every day and got SO frustrated with myself because I felt like I wasn't good enough and so we weren't having success. Heavenly Father knew that I needed a break. Those first six months are totally worth it for the experiences that I have had here in Glendora so far. It just really confirms to me that this is the Lord's work. Some areas are just hard. And I learned a lot in those six months that I'm sure that I wouldn't have learned if things were going well. He knows what He is doing, we just need to trust Him unconditionally.

So I'm not going to properly reply to most of the rest of my emails, just so you know, because I don't have much time. I will try to get to everyone, but if I don't, I will at some point. We went to the temple this morning (we left at 3:30 AM to get to the 5:00 session) and then came home and slept, so we lost a lot of time to do things, but it was worth it. The temple is the best. Oh, and that's why I didn't email yesterday.

Okay, NOW I'm done, sorry I totally broke my promise a couple of paragraphs up... Haha

I love you all so much and pray for you all the time!

~Sister Kretchman

I was just a little excited to go to the temple:

We were there so early that it was still dark outside:

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