Hello from sunny St. George!!
And I do mean sunny. It’s beginning to be just a little warm here. But everyone assures me that this is nothing. So comforting.
This last week has been full of so many wonderful things. We’ve had so many miracles and beautiful experiences.
Just about 2 weeks ago now, we received a text from our ward mission leader telling us of a new family staying with members of his ward. They had attended sacrament meeting Sunday before and were ready to meet with missionaries. We didn’t have a whole lot of information on them, yet, so we really hadn’t been able to move too far forward on that. Then, last Tuesday, the new bishop came to one of our stake meetings to speak to us. He came with the express intention set up an appointment with us and that family. By the end of the night, we had an appointment set up. When Thursday came, he and his wife picked us up and drove us to the neighborhood to meet this new family. We entered their home–a new apartment with not much furniture yet – and immediately knew there was a good feeling there.
The children speak English fluently, but the mother is much more comfortable with Samoan. It was so marvelous to have the bishop there to translate for us. We introduced the Restoration and stated our purpose and expressed love. As we were ending our visit, the mother began to speak. She spoke for several minutes, gesturing to us, the bishop, and then motioning to her heart. She was growing teary and I kept hearing the word, “fiafia,” which means, “happy.” I thank Sister Leota for teaching me that last winter! When she finished what she was saying, the bishop translated for us. She had expressed how happy she had felt being welcomed into their ward; how happy and touched she was that we had stopped by to teach her; how happy she felt (feeling the Spirit, I added, in my own mind); how happy the gospel and church make her, even though she’s still relatively new to all of it.
It was so touching. As she had been speaking, I couldn’t help but have tears come to my own eyes, even though I did not understand the words she was saying. I’ve seen this before at the Visitors’ Center, when the Christus has played in other languages. The spirit has no language barriers. It’s the most marvelous, universal thing: the love of our Heavenly Father manifested through the power of the Holy Ghost. As we concluded our visit, I shared that my favorite word in Samoan is “olioli”, which means “joy.” And that that is how the gospel makes me feel: joyful. And then I shared my best Samoan phrase: “E moni le talalelei.” It means, “I know the church is true.” What a beautiful Spirit filled that home that day. We look forward to seeing them again. They are so prepared, so loving, and that ward is incredible. I am so grateful to have been able to feel of the amazing faith and goodness that surrounds the Samoan culture, the members of that ward, and this wonderful family. Whoever gets to teach them, whether it be myself, or someone else, will be so lucky. But isn’t that true of every single investigator? We are so lucky to have the chance to know them, feel our Heavenly Father’s love for them, and invite them to come back “home.”
We have a baptism coming up this weekend! We are so excited. He’s 9 years old, and just about the most amazing 9 year old ever. He has such a good spirit about him. He’s so smart, he’s so good, and he is so dedicated to always trying to choose the right. He’s going places, I’ll tell you what, and it has been such a privilege to teach him AND learn from him. We’re super excited for his baptism. Sister Arnold and I are going to sing, too, so everyone send good thoughts our way on Saturday afternoon. I’ll need all the help I can get. haha
In other news, I wanted to share a Visitors’ Center miracle! About a week ago now, a man walked into the center with his sister. She’s a member of the church, and is actually serving a service mission here in town. Their story is incredible. They had been separated for about 25 years, not knowing where each other was. They were miraculously reunited recently, and since he has been having some struggles, he has come to stay with her. She had given him a Book of Mormon and had been introducing him to the church. They came to help him learn a little more. I was lucky enough to be standing there at the front to greet them with another sister. She and I gave them a brief tour and taught the basics of the message of the Restoration of the gospel. We showed him a beautiful painting of Joseph Smith’s first vision as we related to him the story of that beautiful turning point in our Heavenly Father’s plan. We then listened to the Christus message with him and spoke of Christ’s love for him. He was very overwhelmed, but open and we knew that he was feeling the truth of what we were teaching.
He was willing to stay in contact with us and learn more. He gave us a phone number, address, and email address, and we promised to call soon to help him with the Book of Mormon and help him have those feelings of peace again.
Just 2 days later, and before I had had the chance to call him, he came back to the Visitors’ Center and talked with two other sisters. They got his information again and gave it to the Elders who cover his ward boundaries so they could meet him. Just two days after that, he returned yet again. This time, I got to speak with him again in person. Sister Arnold was with me this time and we shared a few scripture with him, discussed the Atonement, and he expressed to us that he kept coming to the Visitors’ Center to find answers. We testified that the answers he was looking for were available there, and also in the scriptures, and most importantly in his prayers and conversations with his Heavenly Father. After speaking for a while longer, teaching and discussing, and trying to understand what he needed, we spoke about baptism. To make this long story short (too late), we invited him to be baptized! He accepted and scheduled his goal date for the beginning of June.
The elders that are teaching him called me a few days later to basically… get the story. It’s not that often that you pick up a new investigator who is already scheduled for baptism. But that’s the miracle of the Visitors’ Center! We have the chance to help them have their first experience with and understanding of the gospel, and then we get to help them connect with their missionaries, take this journey of building faith and making changes, and come closer to their Savior. It can all begin with us in the Visitors’ Center. It’s such a beautiful place. And this is not the only story of its kind. Things like this happen more often than you think in the VC! I’m so thankful for my calling!
Also, I wanted to share this video about Family History. I have really grown to love it more and more on my mission. When I get home, I plan on doing as much Family History as possible. It’s amazing! This is a beautiful video about the beautiful stories that make up the heritage to which we all owe our very existence. I hope you enjoy discovering your family as you feel inspired by this video. You are special. Your family is special. Your heritage and legacy are special. Check it out! Click here: Everyone has a history. What’s yours?
I wish you all a beautiful conclusion of the month of May! I’ll have much to report next week, with the new transfer assignments coming this weekend. I look forward to announcing the big changes! Or maybe no changes at all! It’s just a big question mark right now! That’s the most exciting bit, isn’t it?
Well, I must sign off now. I’m so grateful for all of you. I hope you really know that. You’re all incredible. You’ve shaped me into who I am today. I’m here because of you. Thank you. I love you. More than there are words.
Much love and rice and beans,