Mom, I take it you haven't had the chance to email me yet because you were a litte preoccupied running in the St. George marathon!! Congratulations for completing it for the second time! How many marathons is that for you now? So we watched conference Saturday morning with the Finnegans at their apt and after the session was over they said that they needed to log on and watch a live video stream of their son coming in at the finish line of the St. George marathon. I was like "No way! My mom is running that too. Or she ran it. Because she is probably already done by now." By the time we logged on and started scanning all the runners coming through the finish line it was around the 5hr 25min mark. "Oh," I said, "My mom has been done for over an hour probably." Hhaha. Props to mom. But at the same time I was kind of hoping that you did bad or had to walk to blew out your knee or something just so that I could see you for a couple seconds on the computer screen.
Conference weekend was the best. General conference takes on a whole new meaning and is on a way higher level for me since becoming a full-time missionary. I feel like I hang on every word that is spoken and crave the spiritual enlightenment and wisdom that is shared at each coming session. It's interesting because when I listened to conference I feel like I am listening not only for myself, but I am listening for all of my recent converts, less-active members and of course my investigators. I had all three of my progressing investigators watch conference!!!! MIRACLE. Remember Tim? The guy we met at the door, navy welder, committed him to baptism on the church tour? Well, he came to watch conference with us at the stake center on Sunday morning. We sent him a text to remind him the night before that we would come by his house in the morning and so he could follow us down to the church building. That is kind of a hit or miss scenario with investigators. Luckily with Tim it was a direct bullseye. We knock on his door and he opens it right away standing there in a white shirt and tie and shiny shoes. ( AHHHHH!!!! I pray for things like to happen and for people like this to find. That was me screaming inside) We sent Brandon to watch it with our Ward mission leader, Bro Miles and his family and Sonia was watching it at home on her laptop. So we head off to the stake center to watch conference. Most people here just watch it at home so there were probably 10-12 people at the stake center to watch. 4 of which were us missionaries. We told Tim that most people are watching it at home and that there are A LOT more members of the church in the area that what was currently being represented. For those of you that watched the Sunday morning session.....WOW. Wow, right???!!! I was like "Are you listening to this guys? All my investigators, are you all hearing this?? They are speaking to directly to you, Sonia! Or Tim, your question you asked last night was just answered. Brandon, this is the Prophet." For someone that grew up Baptist and has not stepped foot in a church for quite a while, I wasn't sure how Tim was taking it all in. He sat with his head looking down for a few of the talks or he was watching very intently. After the Session was over we asked him what he thought. He said that he "felt really connected to what they were saying" and that he "couldn't really describe the feelings that he felt." (AHHHH!!! Me screaming inside again) The talk about the Book of Mormon either being from God or from the Devil and that there was no other option didn't really mince words, did it? I asked Tim what he thought about that talk and he said "it makes a lot of sense." He told us he hasn't read the entire Book of Mormon but he has good feelings when he reads it and that something keeps pushing him to do more and more. First it was to agree to come on the church tour, then it was to accept baptism, then it was to allow us to teach him, then he accepted the First Vision and Joseph Smith, then the Plan of Salvation, then he accepted to come to conference, and he still is interested in learning more about the gospel and working towards his baptism on October 16th. He is a miracle.
What were some of your favorite conference topics and talks? I really loved Elder Scott's talk about really delving into the scriptures. He talked about when we study, understand, and memorize verses, stories, and principles taught in the scriptures we have a mental filing cabinet of knowledge, inspiration, and spiritual strength to draw from for not only our personal benefit but also for the benefit of helping others. I really, really connected with President Uchtdorf's talk about God weighing us as his children on completely different scales then the world does. That all of the money, wealth, and power combined on the entire planet could not even buy you a loaf of bread in the economy of heaven. To Heavenly Father, money means nothing. How much your worth is in the scheme of eternity to Him, where as the world looks at your bank account, social status, and appearance. Before the morning session started the Finnegans made us breakfast. Sausage, pancakes, eggs, hot chocolate, and toast. Sis. Finnegan had bought this blanket from Costco a couple weeks ago and it is seriously the softest blanket I have ever felt in my life. One side is this buttery soft sherpa fleece and on the other side is this minky velvety soft fabric. I use it everytime I go over there. She bought me one as an early birthday gift!! She brought it out and gave it to me to snuggle with during conference. So naturally they had to get Sis Holman one, too. Her birthday is not until Feb. They bought me a blue one and Sis Holman a red one for ASU Sundevils. It was so fun just sitting on their memory foam bed watching conference with our blankets and sipping cocoa.
We watched the Saturday afternoon session with the Thompson family. They have the cutest 4 boys you've ever seen. They have an 11yr old that is a freak genius. He talks about the latest HTML code website he is building and physics and other sorts of things I know nothing about. They were the same family that had us over for fireworks on the 4th of July. For the Sunday afternoon session we watched it over at the Piete Family's house. Brother and Sister Piete and their 9 yr old daughter Brooke. They fed us soup and rolls for lunch which was great for the freezing wet day that Sunday was. Sis Piete is from San Diego and is half Filipina. You would never really know it though. She is a convert to the church and waaayyy cool. They are working towards being sealed in the temple. They might move back to San Diego in about a year so I told them that if they get sealed by the time I come home in SD that I will be there!!
In between the sessions of conference on Sunday we had gone to the church building so that we could prepare for a dinner/lesson that we had later that evening with a recent convert lady in the ward that has since become less-active because she married a guy in the navy who is not a member of the church. She moved up from CA to WA and has since been working to help blend her and her husband's families. He apparently has a lot of "questions" about the church. Uh oh. Sometimes "questions" can be very hostile missiles that people want to open fire at the missionaries all at once right after the other. We learned our lesson in dealing with that the hard way when last week we didn't go in to teach this other guy, Blake, one of the lessons but let him just rattle off all of the questions that he had. Yikes. BIG MISTAKE. Just a bunch of ping ponged deep doctrinal, hypothetical questions that were just all over the board that we easily could have organized and or answered all in the first gospel lesson about the Restoration. So we were prepping for avoiding that situation with this new guy. All the day before the dinner and the day of the dinner I just had this bad feeling about it and it was not sitting well with me. I had a feeling that it was going to be a potentially very hostile situation and was honestly not really looking forward to it. Well, about 2 hours before we were supposed to go over there, the wife called us and said that it would be a better idea if we didn't come over anymore. Her husband had kind of gotten into it with her the night before and there was some remaining tension. If we came trapsing in it would just make it worse. She said she needs to work out her relationship with her husband and the church before she brings the church into the relationship. Phew. That was kind of a relief to hear.
But on the flip side....BRANDON GOT BAPTIZED YESTERDAY!!! Haha we have just been on a roll with baptism lately and I know the Lord is behind us. It was a really nice baptismal service and a lot of ward members came out to support him even at somewhat last minute notice. Even President and Sister Weaver came up for the baptism. I gave the talk on the Restoration. It went really well. The spirit was very present so it made the talk pretty powerful. I didn't have anything written out or prepared but just hoped and prayed that the Holy Ghost would direct me as to what I should say.
Another amazing thing that happened yesterday was that we had a miracle church tour. Last Sunday we went tracting before Taylor's baptism. Do you remember my whole internal debacle and how stressed out I was so we felt like we should go out finding? Anyway so we tracted this whole street and the very last person we talked to was this guy named Franz. We ran into him about three times while we were tracting on that street. He does some independent landscaping work for some of his neighbors so he was going back and forth with gardening tools and equipment. Finally when we were about to leave he says, "So what are you guys selling? Anything that I want?" Haha we tell him that we are not selling anything. That it has already been paid for and that what we were offering was free. And that he would definitely want it. The look on his face was HUH??? He is single. Probably mid-late 30's from Laos. Said that he had actually been to an LDS church in San Diego when he was stationed down there. He is a marine. We invited him on a church tour. He seemed about 60% committed. We went back to check on him a couple days later and luckily caught him as he was backing out of his driveway. "Man, you guys are persistant." Haha yep. We sure are. No joking around when Salvation is at stake. Now he seemed about 75% committed to coming on a church tour. Well when we were at the church studying for the lesson that we didn't end up having to give, he showed up for a church tour. Did you hear me? HE SHOWED UP FOR THE CHURCH TOUR. Long story short he is on date to be baptized on the 23rd. Day before transfers. On the off chance that I'll get transferred out I hope that this baptism goes through because I really want to witness that happen.
Ok we got a brand new car this morning!!! We got a red, yes RED 2011 Toyota Corolla. It had 9 miles on it when we picked it up from Tacoma this morning. It smells so gooood inside. It's pristine.
Sowe get fed almost every single day and 9.5 times out of 10 its really good. I only write home about the .5 times that they are not. Because they are usually more fun. And by fun I mean gross and therefore entertaining. But every single person that feeds us weird food is sooooo nice and put a lot of work and thought into the meals so I feel bad and eat it all. Aka scrape it on to Sis Mills plate. But Sis Mills is no longer here. This past week we had southern food. Hmm. I don't think I care for Southern food unless Paula Deen made it. Lima Beans......yuck. I hate salty food and lima beans floating in bacon juice is salty. Yuck. Mushy fruit. Ham as thick as a 2x4, more squash.....squish. Salad with lettuce whiter than the driven snow. There were like 15 dishes of food that I wasn't too stoked to heap on my plate. So I ate what I could and what I couldn't....I covered with my napkin.
The work is going great here in the mission. One of my favorite lines from Sunday Afternoon session was the guy who was the second counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency. He was talking about teaching and living by the Spirit and missionary work. He said that his misison was the best two years FOR his life. Not just OF his life. Could not agree more. I LOVE MY MISSION. Mission life is the best life. I hope that everyone is doing well at home and are as happy as I am. If you aren't happy read your scriptures and pray on your knees everyday and Heavenly Father will tell you how to be happy. There is so much beauty in this life, you just have to look around for it. My comp is doing great. I already know we'll be friends after the mission. I love and pray for you guys.