Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hey guys,
So all of the snow has melted.  But yes, it did come.  Last Tuesday evening when we were out tracting, people were so concerned and worried that we were out walknig around.  They made it sound like the end of the world was coming and that we were walking around foolishly.  We woke up Wednesday morning to snow and were advised not to drive at least until later in the day.  Well, the snow did not let up.  It continued to snow and snow and snow.  So we stayed inside most of the morning under President Weaver's direction and headed out on foot to the church a couple blocks away to eat lunch with the Elders.  It was crazy how Bremerton was shut down by the snow.  School was cancelled, work was cancelled, buses didn't run. The place literally came to a halt all because of a few inches of snow on the ground.  The city hadn't salted the roads or plowed that morning so cars that were either brave or dumb enough to go out on the roads were getting stuck or fish-tailing like crazy.  The wind was so frigid!! It rivaled Rexburg winds for sure.  Definitely not as bad but it was a bitter chill.  Especially walking around in a skirt.  We got a text from President around 3:45 telling all the missionaries that from that point until at least 7pm he wanted us out on the streets walking around/talking to people/knocking doors.  He said that people are going to be home so take advantage of it!  Did not sound fun AT ALL. But we did it.  I put on tights, leggings, socks, wool socks, two pairs of gloves, a scarf, a hat, handwarmers, and a body warmer that i stuck inside my skirt and we headed out into the snow for a few hours.  We probably looked so ridiculous to people.  Two girls in crazy snow, wind, and ice walking around in skirts trying to talk to people about Jesus.  Haha totally normal.  We were planning on walking 2 miles to our recent investigator's house, Sister Rice, even after she forbid us from trying to see her because it would involve us going out in this nasty weather.  We made it about a mile down the road before the elders in their all wheel drive subaru came to our rescue and picked us up.
Thursday it was the same story.  Except all the compacted snow had frozen overnight and the roads were ice rinks.  Wreck after wreck.  So everyone was just out walking around or playing in the snow.  President texted the mission and said the news was saying it was the worst ice storm on record, tempertatures were below freezing and that we were to use caution as we headed out.  Luckily, our apt complex was easy to get out of.  Some missionaries that live with members, didn't have that luxury because the houses they live in were set back far from main roads and out in the woods somewhere. 
We still had to go out tracting that night.  We decided to finish these apts that were near ours.  Not a whole lot of luck.  People were way cranky and annoyed that they opened their doors and were letting out all their warm air.  We meet this one guy named Kerry.  Hispanic.  Ex-navy.  Has PTSD and swears like a sailor.  Just doesn't really give off the vibes like he even cares at all what we have to say and I didn't care if I never saw him again in my whole life.  So I was definitely surprised when about 10 minutes after we left his apt he came running after us in the snow looking for us.  He said that he changed his mind and that he wants to come check out the church.  Sister Welch tells him that we can go right now!  We start the 10 min walk to the church building.  She is thinking "Yes! Insta-tour!"  I'm thinking "Oh, great.  I have 10 min to find a male priesthood holding fellowship that lives within walking distance of the church that can meet us here in just a few minutes."  So my comp didn't know that there is a mission rule that does not allow Sister missionaries to bring males into the church alone without a Priesthood holder present.  For obvious safety reasons.  I knew this was a rule and in the heat of the moment I didn't know what to do.  She didn't know that was a rule so she didn't think anything of it.  The entire walk to the church I was feeling way uneasy about this guy and was trying to think of how we were going to get out of this.  No one was on the streets.  The elders didn't know we were giving this tour.  And Kerry started asking us questions that basically told him that we were alone, no one knew we were going to the church, and that no one else was coming. CREEPY.  The entire church tour I said a silent prayer asking Heavenly Father to please just get us out of this situation or to send a priestholder to the church. that was going to happen.  All of a sudden, Kerry's phone rings and he says he needs to go.  Good!  I wasted no time ushering him towards the doors.  We forgoed the part of the tour where we look at the baptismal font and where we commit them to be baptized.  There at the bottom of the stairs like an angel sent from heaven was our Elders' Quorum President Brother Hyde.  What the?  Turns out that on Thursday nights there is open gym for basketball at the church and the EQ is in charge.  Earlier that night Brother Hyde's first counselor told him to not bother heading to the church because no one was going to be heading out to play in that weather.  Even his wife was saying he would be wasting his time coming down to the church cause no one was coming.  Lucky for us, he followed the strong prompting he got from the spirit to still head down to the church for some unknown reason.  He saved us!  Moral of the story: OBEY THE PROMPTINGS FROM THE HOLY GHOST
On Friday the snow was melted away by a torrential rain shower, creating slushees not even 7-11 could rival.  The roads were pretty bad.  But we ventured out into the mush and headed over to our favorite family, The Wahlquists.  For the first time in my life, I shoveled snow off a driveway!! Hahah it was the best ever.  We had just eaten Jack in the Crack for lunch before we headed over there and so I definitely burned it off.  We shoveled the whole driveway and walk.  Took us probably about an hour and a half.  Used muscles I definitely haven't used in a very long time.  I woke up very sore the next day.  We shoveled in our skirts and borrowed snow boots/gloves/jackets from Sister Wahlquist.  We were soaking wet by the time we were finished.  Both from sweat and snow and rain.  But totally worth it!
So, we have this next door neighbor that is the coolest neighbor ever.  It's an older-ish couple.  Probably 60's or so.  The guy is white and the wife is Filipino.  Surprise, surprise.  Anyway they are Catholic and so when you walk up to our neighboring apt doors we both have pictures of Jesus on our doors haha.  Except they look slightly different.  Anyways!  She has been feeding us so much food.  She'll look for our car when we come home for lunch or dinner or when we get home at night and come ring our doorbell and bring us legitimate meals!  The other day we had just finished eating a well balanced dinner of cereal and toast when we get a knock on the door and she sent her husband over with a heaping bowl of spaghetti, a green salad, and a tray of garlic bread.  One morning she asked us when we would be coming in for the night and said she would come over and give us from freshly fried lumpia that she makes from scratch.  So sure enough at 9pm that night, before we even make it to the door, she is standing on the landing with enough lumpia for a football team and a Skippy Peanut butter jar full of her homemade sweet n' sour sauce.  Sweeeet.  She has also made us chicken fried rice, all kinds of soup, and yesterday on Pday she gave us an industrial sized bowl of pansit noodles she had just pulled off the stove.  Me and Sis Welch each ate a decently sized bowl of it and packed a tupperware container of it and didn't even make a dent.  We had just left the rest of zone at the church after playing basketball and soccer and knew the elders were still there.  We brought over the bowl and fed the entire zone of famished, sweaty boys.  It was gone in 2 seconds!  We could have never finished it by ourselves.  We washed the bowl and brought it back to her about an hour after she gave it to us full, and when we gave it back she gave us a Costco sized roll of Pillsbury cookie dough!  Haha what the heck?  These two old peeps that love feeding the missionaries will be so blessed.  Haha she always tells us in her best filipino accent to "share it with the rest of your parishoners."  Haha.
Remember James, the 9 yr old investigator?  He was FINALLY baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We put him on-date the first day of last transfer and it has taken this long for things to finally come together.  James has progressed and been ready for baptism for weeks but his father who is a returning less-active in the church had wanted to baptize his son.  The process of getting him worthy again to be able to baptize him took him a long time.  He kept dodging appts with the Bishop or not keeping commitments.  So it had come to the point where the Bishop was going to baptize him.  The church handbook advises not waiting on fathers if they are not worthy to perform baptisms.  But literally in the 11th hour, about 45 min before the baptism, James' dad was interviewed and found worthy to baptize James.  for the first time in my entire time knowing him he actually smiled.  HE HAS NEVER SMILED BEFORE, EVER.  Never has looked happy.  Never has made eye contact with us.  Until the moment he told us that he could baptize his son. MIRACLE.  It was one of the neatest baptisms ever.  This family that has endured so much hardship and disappointment finally had something to smile about.
We had another sweet miracle with this investigator, Shanna.  At first I was totally ready to drop this girl.  Just dogging every appt and not keeping commitments.  Just not progressing.  Then we had a breakthrough.  We dropped by and gave her The Lamb of God DVD last week.  Kind of forgot about doing that.  Then we get this text from her asking us if there was a PART 2 to the movie that we gave her because she loved it so much and wants to know more.  We go over to her house and she tells us that before she wasn't really sure she wanted to check out the church but now she felt something really good and she wants to start really taking it seriously.  She came to church on Sunday and loved it!  We softly commited her to baptism and she is willing to make the changes and strides necessary to change her life.  It taught me a lesson.  I don't really call the shots about who is ready and who is not.  God does.  He will let us, as missionaries, know though the Holy Ghost.  And then we can go from there.  DON'T GIVE UP ON PEOPLE!!!
This week was insane.  THE hardest week of my life for sure.  But I had so many miracles and tender mercies happen along the way.  You can't help but wonder at the power and love of God.  The creator of the universe is literally our Father in Heaven.  Blows my mind.  Even if you may doubt your love for Him, never doubt His love for you.  I came to know of the truth of that this week.  During one of my darkest hours, my companion drove me to the chapel and had me sit there alone for a few minutes after she handed me a picture of the Savior holding a newly found lost sheep.  After tearfully admitting to her that I struggle with feeling good enough, she invited me to ask God and Christ if I was good enough for them.  Before she even made it out of the chapel doors, I received an instantaneous response.  "Of course, you are," were the words the Holy Ghost whispered so clearly to my heart.  Relief and peace flooded my soul as tears streamed from my eyes.  For the first time, in a long time, I felt like I really believed that I was good enough.
"The Lord doesn't expect us to work harder than we are able.  He doesn't (nor should we) compare our efforts to those of others.  Our Heavenly Father asks only that we do the best we can--that we work according to our full capacity, however great or small that may be."- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Love you guys,
Sis Baylon

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