I had to!
I love being in Georgia! My companion is the best, our ward is so great, I love our investigators, and life is just good! If I go to Taiwan at the end of the transfer here, then that means I only have 10 days left in Georgia. And as bad as my Chinese is getting, I'm a little sad to say goodbye to this place soon. Part of me wants my visa to wait just a little longer, since I feel like I'm getting so attached to the people we teach. But I guess that's just part of being a missionary. Change will be good!
This week had so many ups and downs. I learned that I thought I knew what hard-work was. Luckily Sister Berrett is so awesome at picking us back up on our feet again. We just faced some discouragement after looking at our actuals at the end of every day. After a lot of prayer, and continuing on, we realized that we were lacking in something so essential - faith. Faith that we are in the right neighborhood at the right time. Faith that someone will answer the door and listen to us. Faith that we can find people to teach. Faith that we are following all of the spiritual impressions that the Lord gives us.
We thought a lot about that, and decided that we needed to believe that our investigators would continue to progress and experience conversion on their own, rather than just doing what we ask them to do. We needed to hope for miracles to happen. And after I thought about it, I realized that God does give us a million tender mercies a day. Even when we don't deserve it! But those tender mercies give us the motivation to get through at least the rest of the day. I've learned that taking things a day at a time is essential to my progression as a missionary. I need to just take a breath, and work hard in the things I have control over.
This week, we had 4 of our investigators commit to come to church. Markeitha, Magali, Michelle, and Kavisha. Markeitha is so awesome. Sister Berrett has been teaching her for months, and she knows the gospel is true. She reads the Book of Mormon as often as she can, and she LOVES meeting with us and asking us questions about what she reads. The only thing holding her back is her fiancé is very against organized religion. Specifically LDS, because he has gotten into a lot of Anti. Markeitha is so strong though. She knows the gospel is true because of what she has experienced from our visits. She is just incredible. The other night, G (her fiancé) called us and asked us a bunch of questions he had about some anti material he had read online. It was really hard because I knew he just wanted to bash with us. All we could do really was refer him to lds.org, where they have questions and answers about common concerns that our apostles and General Authorities have answered. But if someone doesn't even have a softened heart to our message, then the Spirit will never testify to them the truth.
Magali is pretty solid, too. Sister Berrett met her on her doorstep a few weeks ago, and they prayed with her and had a super spiritual experience but then for a few weeks, she wouldn't get back to them, and avoided calls. But then randomly the other night we got a text from Magali that woke us up. She said she was sorry for not getting back to us, but she wanted to come to church. So we taught her a couple of days later, and it was so awesome. A member came with us and the spirit was so strong in her home, it brought Magali to tears. She has a husband who is in jail, and a 2 year old daughter. She wants to know if he can be forgiven, and she wants to know what she can do to live her life right. She came to church with us yesterday and she loved it! I'm so excited for her.
Michelle is also amazing! Her boyfriend (well now they are engaged!), Brandon got baptized a month or so ago. She kind of took the lessons with him, but wasn't really interested until she saw how much the gospel changed Brandon. They have a kid together, his name is Brandon Jr. and Michelle wants to know how she can be with her family forever, and raise her son right. She has been through so much and was so touched by our message of the Atonement, and how we can be cleansed of our sins. She is on date to be baptized! Hopefully I will still be here to see it :)
I don't know much about Kavisha, but the one time we met with her, she said she knew there was something she needed to change about herself. She said God has been telling her to change for some time. She didn't come to church though, and she always flakes on our appointments. So we don't know what will happen with her, but I know there is potential in her!
Definitely the hardest part about this week was Felicia. We met Felicia by going door to door. She has MS, and a speech impediment. She is a single mother of two boys (7, and 10 yrs old) and she works full-time. When we met her, I felt like it was an answer to my prayers because it was after knocking on doors for an hour and a half with no success before we got to her front porch. She invited us back, and we brought a member with us to teach her to first lesson. It went so well, and she really liked learning about Joseph Smith. But we were so dumb, and we forgot to bring a Book of Mormon to give her. She said to come back in the morning to bring it. So the next day, we called her on our way to her house to make sure she was still there, and she said she needed some time to think about things. She said she spoke with her mom, and doesn't want to leave her Baptist church and her mom told her some things about our religion that apparently she didn't like..
I can't even begin to explain the sadness I felt. Sister Berrett explained it to me as Godly Sorrow. I think that was the first time I've ever felt that. I don't understand how someone could feel the Spirit testify to them so clearly, and then turn away from it so quickly because they went to the wrong source. It honestly broke my heart, because I know how much the gospel will bless her and her boys. I know that she felt something burning in her heart. The confusing thing to me, is that I had known this lady for just under a week, and I just loved her so much.
That night, I couldn't stop thinking about it and the thought came into my head "fear not, I am with thee". And then again in the morning during personal study "fear not, I am with thee." I looked up that verse in Isaiah 41. Then during sacrament meeting, the first hymn we sang was "How Firm a Foundation" where the fourth verse references the scripture. And I knew the Lord was trying to tell me something. He has a plan, and He will take care of Felicia and her boys. She still has her agency, and that's something I just need to accept. As long as I know I did everything in my power to testify to her.
Well, that was a quick summary of my week! I felt obligated to write a little bit more, since I haven't taken the time to do so yet. I really love it here! I miss you all, and I hope you all have a great week.
Happy New Year from Sister Berrett & Sister Hendricks