So I'm emailing you all on a Tuesday because that means yesterday was Transfer day! My transfer assignment was to stay here in Manette and Sister Faoliu was transferred down to the another area that sisters just opened last transfer down in the Gig Harbor area. She was not too happy about that because of the companion that she was getting. Her companion has a notorious reputation. Being late for her own baptism (and the mission president was there!, chronic tardyness. Like we're talking showing up an hour and a half late to a meeting that is only two hours long. Poaching baptisms from areas that are 30 minutes away. The list goes on. So pray for Sister F and her companion! My new comp on the other hand is a dream!! Her name is Sister Welch. She's from Centerville, UT. Super nice, kind of quiet, mild mannered, soft spoken. She came out into the mission the transfer after me, so we are both still pretty young. She told me this morning that she is studying to be a Forest Ranger at Utah State. Sweet! Haha. So Lani Poppleton had written me a letter telling me that she is going on a mission and has been called to serve in the Cleveland, OH mission!!! Congratulate her when you all get a chance! Anyway, in her letter she told me that she had a friend named Elder Bowser that was coming to the WA-TAC and that he has a cousin that is currently serving in my mission, named Sister Welch. I had told her in my letter I wrote back that I didn't really know Sister Welch but that I had seen her before at transfer meetings and at the Sister conference but that she seems really nice. Bam, now she's my comp! Small world.
A lot of people were really upset with their transfer assignments and a lot of that anger stemmed from their mistrust in President Weaver. I was asked to give the closing prayer at the end of transfer meeting and I had a strong feeling like I should include in my prayer that President Weaver has been called by God to preside over our mission. That he hold the keys and rights and authority to exercise that stewardship. That we should trust and willingly accept whatever counsel and calling he extends towards us because it is coming from Heavenly Father through President. We teach our investigators in Lesson One that whenever people ignore, reject, or criticize the prophets or priesthood authority and leadership within the church, apostasy ensues. In the prayer I asked for all of us to be able to look forward to this next transfer with faith and hope as we head to our new areas with our new companions or return to our areas with our same companions and that we will be ok with our assignments. Several people came up to me afterwards, including President himself, thanking me for making mention of this.
On Sunday our zone headed down to Port Orchard to attend a stake-wide nativity display. Hundreds of members' personal collections of nativities were beautifully put on display with lights and stands all throughout the cultural hall. The stake choir all dressed in black and red were singing in the background from the chapel as the partition was opened to allow the guests to hear beautiful Christmas hymns as they went around to look at all of the displays. It was the neatest thing to see so many different depictions of one of the most holy and beautiful events in history, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. That even the displays from foreign countries and far away lands all had the same sense of reverence and awe as the various statues and figurines were anchored around the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Some were very simple. Carved by hand in wood. Others very ornate and fragile. All very spiritual nonetheless. After everyone was able to make the rounds at the displays they broadcasted the First Presidency Christmas broadcast in the cultural hall. I really appreciated what Elder Uchtdorf had said about essentially the "reason for the season." That often we are too busy caught up in what we idealize in our minds as the "perfect" Christmas. This usually entails the perfect tree. The perfect gifts. The perfect dinner. The perfect family. But how often do we really put our focus on the perfect Son of God born in an imperfect stable? That the perfectly served all those he met. That he perfectly loves each one of us so much so that he was the perfected and infinite and eternal sacrifice for sin? One of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon comes from the last chapter of the last book:
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then in his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." (Moroni 10:32)
As a mission we are all reading the book of Mormon together so that we can all end and read Moroni 10 together as a mission at our Christmas party a week from today. This has been the neatest experience. It has been by far the fastest time I have ever read the Book of Mormon in. I have truly come to know that it is from God and that by abiding by its precepts and applying the doctrine from its pages into our lives we can become "perfect in Christ" just like Moroni had explained. I was so caught up in the fact that it was looking like I was going to be here in Manette for Christmas. And this was really getting me down. This brand new area with most likely a new companion, with members that don't even care if I'm there, and a struggling testimony. My family isn't here. This sucks. But then I changed my heart and my mind when I fasted on Sunday to have my heart softened. To allow the spirit to reveal to me how I could better love, teach, and serve our investigators. Something about the power of Hymns coupled with the Holy ghost really pierced me to the very center. As the stake choir so angelically sang, "Silent Night," I was quickly reminded of the reason for the season. The reason why I get up every morning. The person who's name I bear and who's work I am doing. The Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. As much as I am going to miss having a stocking, or decorating the tree, or being with my family, I know that I will be doing a far greater work. Helping lift the hands that hang down and warming the hearts that have waxed cold. Mom, thanks for giving me reason to think about tracting on Christmas. Of being rejected by the ninety-and-nine to find the one.
It was crazy to wake up last week and realize that December 1, 2011 marked 6months on my mission. The tradition for commemorating that milestone for a sister missionary is burning a pair of tights. I live on the third floor of our apartment building and I was afraid some freak fire accident would occur and burn the place down. So I'll have to do it some other time down in the parking lot or something and pretend like it was December 1st all over again. But in all seriousness, it was a bittersweet moment to look back on the past six months to know that so much has happened and that time will only get faster from this point on. I felt joy when I was thinking of all the sweet moments and I felt sadness when I reflected on the times that I didn't try my best. I don't want to waste another moment. No other time like this will come. The mission has become sacred to me and the Washington Tacoma area has become holy ground. I would say all missionaries feel that way about where they served. Yesterday, during one of the final testimony of one of the departing missionaries, the elder speaking brought up a small rubber ball with him to the pulpit. He bounced it up and down and related it his mission. That there were ups and there were downs but overall it was a ball. Sister Weaver in her great wisdom added in her closing remarks that like the ball, the harder we go down, the higher we then rise. Wow. I couldn't agree more. This morning at zone meeting, one of the activities we did was to take a fresh new copy of the Book of Mormon and go to a room in the church building where we could be alone. We were instructed to open it to the first picture which is a picture of the Savior. For 10 minutes we were to look at this picture and reflect on our testimony and relationship with Him and to jot down in the inside cover pages the impressions, thoughts, and feelings we received as personal revelation. I chose to go in the chapel and no sooner that I sat down and closed my prayer to ask for the Spirit to be with me did the melody and words to the hymn, "Be Thou Humble" quietly yet boldly enter my mind. I wrote the words to the hymn down as well as the scripture that is referenced at the bottom of the page in the hymn book.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they might be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)
Speaking of humbled, I was humbled in the court room! Haha. It went as well as it could have minus the fact that I still have to pay in one form. So long story short they reduced my fine down and said I could pay in community service. We actually are supposed to do one act of service a day per request from President Weaver so it really should work out nice. We could do it in the morning when it's a little slower in the work anyway. I'm thinking of trying to get in and volunteer at the Bremerton Food Bank or something along those lines. I hear there missionaries are asked to take off their tags, but there is supposedly a Bishop's storehouse nearby so we could work there and wear our tags. So I think I'll try to find out more about that.
Mom, I had Sister Faoliu read your last email to me while we drove down to Tacoma yesterday. I think I cried and laughed, cried and laughed. I especially laughed at the very descriptive story of the vermin attacks in the pantry. We laughed so hard when we were imagining Dad shaking up the mouse in the paper bag with the sticky trap at the bottom. Shake and Bake rat. MMmmm!! You would freak out here in Btown. There are the largest sewer rats you have ever seen that just run free around here in the streets.NASTY.
This last week has been a week of miracles. We finally have people solidly on-date to be baptized. Feels so good. So joyous again to see the fruits of our labors ripe for the harvest. We are building our teaching pool day by day and exercising our faith that Heavenly Father has prepared people here for us to find, teach, and baptize. It's awesome. Sister Welch is a breath of fresh air that this area needed and I can't wait to work with her for the next 6 weeks. Shauna, thanks for all the words of wisdom that you shared with me. 50 lessons/week???? Holy cowwwwwww. Dang that is incredible. I am trying to be more like you! Kim, and you are a referal queen! Yeahhhh for your doorman getting baptized!! Remember they don't have to be perfect, they just need to be worthy. And have the faith and desire to act on that faith and follow Christ. Amanda! Thanks for writing me! Tell Morgan that "nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels!!" (right, like I actually follow that) Someone tell Nikki Tracy that she is awesome for deciding to serve a mission. MIRACLE! I love you guys. Thanks so much for all of the prayers and support.