Minha querida familia!
Oh, I love you all so much! Mom, thank you for sharing all about youth conference with me! It sounds like you all had some special and sacred experiences. I loved reading that, even though it made me cry--thanks for that! :) My favorite part was when Brother Allen was able to say things that met specific needs of the youth...what an amazing gift, to have your words guided by the Spirit! That's the thing I'm striving for the most, I think. To be able to follow the Spirit in all that I do and say, and know that I have its companionship with me. Devin and Sterling, if you get the chance to sit down and write a letter, I'd love to hear what you learned while you were there!
So, first full week in Coffeyville! We are working hard, that's for sure. Sometimes it feels like all of our plans just fall apart, but then something will happen that'll make it all worth it! The thing we're working on the most is finding people to teach, and luckily we have a great ward to help us with that! Our goal for the coming weeks is to focus on member referrals, and getting members to reach out to their friends. Really, I am so grateful for the ward we're in. They are so supportive of missionaries, and they are so kind! Which is good, because we're going to need a lot of help, even with getting places! Our mission is limited to 1100 miles each month, and in just the week that we've been here to count for May, we used over 900. It's a big area!
Last Tuesday, we were contacting someone the missionaries had taught a couple of years ago and asked for referrals as we were leaving. He kind of shrugged and pointed to a house across the street and said, "I don't think they speak much English, but you could try talking to them." Okay--this is a probably a good point to mention that although I am so happy to be here, I really love speaking Portuguese and miss it like CRAZY. (Funny, because I've only studied it for 6 weeks!) So I turned to Sister Cook and said, "Do you want to go pretend we can speak Spanish?" Now, her last companion was straight from Mexico, so she's learned a little bit of Spanish as she taught Sister Gonzales English. And I took Spanish in High School, but Portuguese kind of pushed all my Spanish knowledge out of my head! So we were in no way qualified to try to talk to them. But we did :) And for some reason, they listened! We started speaking to the father, and he called out his 11 year old daughter to translate. I learned that I must still remember Spanish, because I could understand them, but if tried speaking Portuguese, they only got bits of it. Sad. But we had a short lesson with them, and set a time to come back. So yesterday, we brought a member with us who speaks Spanish, and we had the best lesson with them! Well, whatever "best" means. The Spirit was present, he asked questions, and they have the desire to learn more. I thought it was awesome! Otimo! (I really need to learn to do accents on the computer) And I even remembered Spanish the more we talked with them! I have to speak really slowly to try to make sure I didn't say a de pronounced "gi" or coisas instead of cosas...things like that. But we can communicate with each other! They've never heard of the Book of Mormon before, so he didn't really get it at first, but they have a Spanish copy our Elders dug up for us, and hopefully they'll read a little bit of it before we meet with them next. And the daughter said the closing prayer for us--SO GOOD! Ah! I just love this family! That's the biggest miracle so far, I think. I really, really, really hope they keep wanting to learn more and develop the faith they need to get baptized.
We haven't had quite as good of luck with our investigator that has a baptism date--we visited her several times this week, and although she wasn't keeping any of her other commitments, she kept talking about how excited she was to come to church. She's the one in a wheelchair, and we had to arrange a special ride for her. But when Sunday morning rolled around, she was still asleep, and said she didn't want to go. But we're going to bring a member to visit her tonight, and we're hoping that if she has a friend at church she'll have more incentive to go.
Other than those two, we've visited a lot of less active, part member, and recent convert families. Or some mix of the three, actually. We've been singing a lot...it makes me so happy! But we've decided that singing a hymn invites the Spirit and softens people's hearts, and then we share a scripture or something from our studies with them. I LOVE IT! Sadly, my hymnbook is in Portuguese, so it doesn't do me a lot of good except during language study! Mom, could you send me one of the little ones I have in my room? I think there should be three to chose from!
The weather's made things CRAZY this week--lots and lots of rain (which makes it really fun to stand outside and back out the car, let me tell you! haha) and lots of tornado warnings. But rain and hail and wind seems to be the worst of it, so we've been lucky. There was one night where we were running home with the sirens blaring and hail pelting us, the wind blowing the rain so much that we could barely see where we were going...and I felt like I was in a movie. We just started laughing at the absurdity of it! Don't worry Mom, we were only a couple of blocks from our apartment building, and then we hid in the basement. I am safe, and I am taking necessary precautions!
The other really cool storm moment was on Thrusday, when we had Zone Conference. As I mentioned before, we share a ward with two Elders. It's actually pretty fun, it's like a missionary team! Anyway, a Sister from the ward (who is AWESOME by the way!) offered to drive us down to Tulsa, aaaaand suprise! The weather was crazy. So she kind of white knuckled it all the way down, she worked all day while we were at Conference, and then she took us out to dinner at the Cheesecake factory--such a huge treat! We decided to count it as my birthday dinner, because I'm pretty sure that beats Cheerios! But when we were leaving, there was another tornado watch, and the weather was awful. We went to a gas station to fill up, and since everything was flooded we couldn't even get gas! All of the roads were flooding, and it was raining really hard. So we decided to say a prayer before we headed out--and there in the middle of nowhere, that's what we did. It was simple, it was quick, and it was powerful. And then as she pulled out, I kid you not, the rain stopped. As we pulled on the highway, the sun came out! At 7:00 at night! And the clouds parted, and there was a RAINBOW. It was an instant answer to prayer, and it was so miraculous! Even writing it, it doesn't seem real. But that's what happened! We drove safely home without any more problems.
Zone Conference was amazing in and of itself. President Shumway talked about the scattering and gathering of Israel, and the hastening. So very, very neat! I've been studying the Abrahamic Covenant all week, and I can't belive all I've learned! I can't believe how much the Book of Mormon talks about the Abrahamic Covenant, and that I didn't really notice it before! I gain a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the divinity of this latter-day work every day. I know that the Lord has a plan for each of us, and I know that I hold a responsibility to share that knowlege with others. I memorized "My Mission Comission" this week so that I'd be able to say it with everyone at Zone Conference, and I'm so glad I did. It was such a sacred experience to stand and say that in a group of missionaries with all of the energy of our hearts. We also did a ton of role plays, which is good. It gives me the chance to learn from other missionaries, and see how they teach! And the Shumways are just the greateset. I learn so much from them!
I was about to close, and then I looked up at what I put in the subject line--so I better talk about turtles! First off. What is going on with the turtles in Kansas?! Any time we drive somewhere, there's a million turtles crossing the road! And apparently, they're the most common road kill. Do you know how sad it is to see a smushed turtle? SAD. VERY SAD. So we saw a big one crossing the road, and Sister Cook said, "We can't let that one die too!!" and we pulled over. We got out of the car and stood next to where the turtle was crossing, but since several cars were coming, we just waited by the side. The cars drove around it (it was a BIG turtle), and we almost went out to grab it when we saw one more truck coming over the hill, and decided to wait. But this truck sped up, and ran right over the turtle! And it made the most horrible sound, and exploded EVERYWHERE! Now, usually the turtle's shell just breaks and they're a little smushed. But since this one was so big and he hit it so fast...oh my goodness. I think this was worse than the deer incident. Good thing I think I can successfully swear off eating turtles, huh? Poor turtle. It was bad.
And on that cheery note, I'm going to say goodbye until next week! I love you all so much, and I'm so grateful for you. I don't think you could have possibly made my birthday any better! Family, the Sanders, and the Fehrs, thank you for the birthday banner! So cute! And Mom, Dad, and Devin and Sterling, thank you for the package. It was perfect! And MOM! This shirt?! I don't think I could have even imagined anything better! It's the perfect material, and the floral print matches everything! You can do anything, I swear! Grandma and Papa, thank you so, so much for your package and birthday notes. Again, I can't imagine anything more perfect! And thank you everyone else for the emails and birthday wishes. Know I pray for you, every day!
Com muito amor,
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