Disclaimer #1: I love this work. I am tired. In fact, I'm pretty sure I fell asleep 10 minutes after we planned last night.. at like. haha I am working hard, but there is NOTHING I would rather be doing right now than serving the Lord. I have experienced more joy and blessings these past 4 months than I ever thought possible. Its a miracle to be here and its worth it even though its exhausting and hard.
I'll start with the interesting experiences.. and work my way up to my favorites. (Not in order of days they occurred.)
1. "Its a shame someone as beautiful as you won't be saved."--Thank you Pastor Pete.. that really brightened my day! I have thick skin, and I'm used to people not being interested in the message that we carry as missionaries. But it still catches me off guard every once in awhile when people say such blunt things. Also, never in my life have I had so many people talk about my looks than as a missionary. And it bugs me when its used against me almost like a "its a good thing you're your pretty, because you're stupid for believing what you do." So that's nice. But I just smile testify of what I know to be true and take Alma's advice and "depart."
This particular man said some things which I don't need to repeat. then left us at our bikes unlocking them to leave and Sister Beasley and I were speechless almost like "DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN?" and all of a sudden he pops up again! This time with a box of cookies he had purchased at Kroger. He gave them to us to thank us for our time.. so I guess Charity=Cookies? At least that put a smile on our faces as we left, a smile of confusion, but a smile none-the-less.
2. You know that saying "caught in the rain without an umbrella"? I've decided that's not the bad thing.. its a problem when its "caught in the rain with a white skirt." We were out trying to check up on some people the Elders gave us their info of and all of a sudden Hurricane Beasilton (we named it that after our minute each night) struck. We made it to our car as fast as possible and by the time we were there you could literally RING OUT your hair and have water just pour out. NUTS. So we drove home, changed, and went to dinner looking like we had just gotten out of the shower. It was crazy, the storm came out of no where. Weather here is SO unpredictable. But don't worry, besides having drenched clothes, we're both fine. :)
3. We met rapper T.I's buddy this week. Rapper Johnathan. He's legit, he writes rap music for some of the big rappers, but most of them he signs contracts with so they claim the work as his so the only one he could tell us was T.I. He totally looked like he fit the rapper part, then you looked in his arms and saw his little girl, and then 4 of his other children. He's a family man! 5 children and wanted to have his kids come stand by us and learn more about Jesus Christ! What a fun experience :) They were all so sweet, He gave us his number and wants to give us one of his CD's so if he does.. that will be sent home for someone else to enjoy.. haha :)
4. Sister Beasley and I have been working REALLY hard to build the trust of the members here in Johns Creek, doing our best to teach with them there so they can see that we try our best, to serve, to let them see we work hard, and yesterday we had experiences when I felt a glimpse of success in that specific thing we have been working on. What a tender Mercy.
A. We got a shout out in someones Testimony of how blessed they felt to have us teach their teenagers and it made them become recommitted to remembering why they joined the church and how it would bless others.
B. We got a shout out in Relief Society from a Sister who mentioned that we had come with her to visit some less-active members and they have been coming to church the last 3 weeks and even stayed all three hours for one of them. --- Can I just say, the joy I feel when I see them walk in is indescribable! I feel so blessed to be helping them to remember and feel the Spirit once more in their life, and to help them know that the Church is an extended family that will ALWAYS be there for them, when they are ready or need it.
C. After we shared a message at our Dinner last night, the mom asked us (the Sisters) to stay behind a minute and talk to her 11 year old son who was trying to share the gospel with his friend. We talked about how being bold with love is invitation, but just being bold is boldness in itself and not always the best approach. As we talked to him he got so excited for the new tools and ideas we showed him from Preach my Gospel and he committed to do them this next week with his friend.--that was SUCH a blessing to see her asking for our help and to see that boy already preparing to serve a mission, 7 years before he can go. Its NEVER too early to prepare for a mission, regardless of if you actually serve or not.
5. Last but not least. I received a phone call on Tuesday from our Zone Leaders, it went like this..
"Sister Hamilton, are you ready to go on exchange?"
"Um.. YA! When? I thought you said I wasn't going on any more this transfer.."
"You can thank us later.. but you will be leaving tomorrow afternoon and going to Paper Mill for the day, and Sister Blaylock will go to your area."
WHHATTTTT!!!! :) I asked them if that would ever happen at the beginning of the transfer and they said "Ha, fat chance." NEVER SAY NEVER :)
So after our Trainer/Trainee follow up meeting on Wednesday I went to Paper Mill with Sister Carrigan and Parker, Sister Blaylocks missionaries. As soon as they told me I was going I knew that this was a great blessing and that it was something the Lord had made happen.
I learned so much on this exchange and felt SO blessed to be going back to my "greenie area" I got to see Rebecca, do y'all remember her? As soon as I got out of the car she came and gave me the biggest hug and burst into tears. She told me "I've got some big choices to make and I have been missing you and Sister Young, I've been praying that I could see you. Now I know God loves me and will answer my prayers." I am HER missionary, and I love her so much. She said she's excited for her baptism and ready as ever to do it. As we talked Sister Parker and Carrigan would ask her a question and she'd look at me and say "You taught me that right? :)" I cannot wait to see her dressed in white. We talked about the temple and she said that's her ultimate goal. I love that she already loves the temple so much. I made her a promise that I'd be there for it, so if its after my mission is complete I guess I'll be headed back for the south! Words cannot express the gratitude I have to my Father in Heaven for letting me see her to see how her faith is grown, to feel so much love from and for her, and to just be able to admire the strides she has already made.
We then went to see Sister Wooten, I'm sure y'all remember her! :) She just about lost it when she saw me. she said to the sisters "You see, I just got so attached to her,. I didn't think I'd see here again, its not that I don't like y'all its just that I love her more." haha! When we first met her she was doing her best to read one book of mormon chapter a week. Now she's reading 4. and now, I asked her to read 6 which she gladly accepted. I sure do love her!
Going to Paper Mill for the day not only helped Rebecca, Sister Blaylock, Sister Carrigan, and Sister Parker, but it also helped me. I learned so much about little things I can do to be a better missionary. I cannot explain the huge blessing it was to go there, but I also can't explain the HUGE blessing it was to come back here to Johns Creek. I just smiled as I caught myself saying to them what President Ernst said to me, "You are a very lucky missionary to be serving here in Paper Mill, but you can't be the luckiest until you serve in Johns Creek." I love the people in Paper Mill, but the Lord has blessed me to give my whole heart to the people living in Johns Creek and Duluth. This is where I need to be. There are people here who need Sister Beasley and I, member and nonmember alike. And we are going to find them.
I'd invite you all to join Sister Bealsey and I on our quest to find "Faith" the person(s), male or female, that we know is ready for the gospel and wants us to find them. We are doing our best to find Faith and those like her (or him) but could use a little extra boost from you all.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I will gladly proclaim that for the rest of my life, no matter the responses I get from others. Just as I told someone this week, "Sir, I love your faith and devotion to Jesus Christ, but I cannot walk away from you without telling you that I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it testifies that Jesus is the very Christ that you speak of."
Who knew I could be so bold... I didn't. But there come moments that words flow out of my mouth and I am thankful for those moments. But perhaps my favorite moments don't involve those moments, but the times I get random hugs and smiles from people on the road who say "we need more people like you two."
Please help Sister Beasley and I as we continue our search to find Faith as we work with people we meet on the street and the members in this area. Thank you for all you do. I love you!