Eu espero qu voces tenem um Feliz Natal e eu estou muito animado para falar com seus na Natal por meio da Skype!
It has been a great week! Transfers was on Tuesday when I left the only area I have ever known (not counting the MTC) of Christiana/Murfreesboro, TN and my two ultimo companeiras, Sister Fowler (my trainer) and Sister Culp (my awesome cat-loving, Portuguese-speaking comp), and drove the two and a half hours from Transfers in Franklin to the city of Jamestown with my two new companions, Sister Leavens and Sister Jones. Sister Leavens is from Snohomish, WA. She is so enthusiastic about the work and loves to sing. She has been in Jamestown ever since she got out in the field. Sister Jones is from Denver, CO. She has a strong testimony of the Gospel and you can always feel the Spirit when she bears it. She was transferred from Franklin, KT. Coincidence: We have all been out for three months and actually all entered the MTC on the same day (9/11). Talk about "Greenie Power!" We are on fire!
Our area of Jamestown has a lot of old, retired people and a lot of less active members. We have a good amount of investigators, though, and it has been amazing this week teaching them and visiting with the less active people as well. We have also had the chance to do some tracting. On Wednesday, there was a beautiful pink sunset as we were walking down the country roadside tracting the afternoon. Seeing that masterpiece of art painted across the sky made our work that much more enjoyable and gave us a feeling of peace and happiness as we knocked on doors. It's hard for me to believe how people can see these miracles and still not believe in a God.
Sunset in Jamestown, Tennessee
On Thursday we had a wonderful lesson with Kylie [name changed], a 15 year-old girl who has come to know for herself that the Church is true, that The Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Her parents are not interested, but are fine with her joining the Church if she wants. The only thing keeping her from being baptized right now is the fact that she loves the church she is going to right now and that the preacher in that church helped her get through a hard time in her life.
During Kylie’s lesson we watched a talk given by Elder Jeffry R. Holland in a 2009 General Conference titled "Safety For The Soul." The talk is focused on the miracle of The Book of Mormon and illustrates how there is no plausible way Joseph Smith could have written this Book and no plausible explanation for why a man would have sacrificed so much for a book except it be the word of God. Elder Holland's testimony of The Book of Mormon is so strong, bold, and powerful, and it strengthens my own testimony of the marvelous and sacred Book I share with others daily.
After our investigator Wayne thoughtfully told us (Sister Fowler and Sister Culp and I) on Monday that he no longer wanted to meet with the missionaries because he believed Joseph Smith was a false prophet and had just copied the Bible and wrote The Book of Mormon, it was really hard for us to understand how he could believe that a young farm boy could have had the capacity to do this and would have undergone so much tribulation and turmoil for it. I am considering asking Sister Fowler, who is still in Christiana/Murfreesboro to text Wayne the link of Elder Holland's talk. I ask that you watch this talk and hear for yourself the amazing testimony of one of my favorite apostles.
We went tracting in Bishop Dungan's neighborhood Friday afternoon and were able to talk with multiple people. Most of them were not interested in us coming back. However, Sister Leavens was awesome and asked each of them if we could pray with them before we left. I think it's one great and non-offensive way to help people feel the Spirit and remember us for good (Pretty much everyone in the Bible Belt likes to pray).
One of the people we met named Bryan had an uncle that had just died and told us that now wasn't a good time for him but he said we could come back again another time. We bore our testimonies to him of how we know that, through Christ, we can be together with our families forever and he would be able to see his uncle again. Then we prayed with him and left.
After we left, I began to receive a strong prompting that we should go back and give Bryan a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. It ate away at me as we continued to knock on doors and I ignored it. However, it eventually became so strong that I could no longer ignore it. I told Sister Jones and Sister Leavens what I was feeling. At first they thought it might be better if we waited to give it to him when we saw him next but they, being the sweet and understanding companions they are, told me that if I was really feeling the Spirit prompting me to do this, we could not deny it's promptings. After thinking about it, I told them that I was really feeling the need to do this. We brought the pamphlet to Bryan's house. He wouldn't answer when we knocked multiple times even though we could see him through the window, so we ended up leaving the pamphlet on his door.
To tell you the truth, I felt kind of unfulfilled when we didn't get to hand Bryan the pamphlet in person, but I know he is going through a hard time right now and God's ways are higher than my ways. I hope that he finds and reads the pamphlet and that it will give him some words of wisdom and comfort as he goes through this trying time in his life.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to go to a 7th Day Adventist church service (they strongly believe the Sabbath is on Saturday). We were invited to go by one of our investigators, named Katy [name changed], who goes to the church for fellowship but made it clear to us that she is not a member. We were really excited to go to another church.
It was an interesting service. It was a small church and there weren't too many people there. We sang songs from their hymnbooks; there was a lot of praying involved (we had to kneel down a lot); they passed around a tray for tithing (we didn't put anything in, but no one looked at us funny); people were saying "Amen!" constantly; there wasn't a preacher, but a man, who supposedly travels around from church to church, gave the sermon (again, a lot of "Amens!"). It was interesting.
Afterwards, they had a lunch, so we stayed to eat and talked with Katy and her husband and a few other people. When we were almost finished I was prompted to go talk the man who gave the sermon and give him a copy of The Book of Mormon. Well, as you can probably imagine, that scared me a little bit. I didn't want to offend him in any way. However, when the Spirit prompts you to do something, you can't question it. As we got ready to leave, I told my companions, as they were about to walk out the door, that I wanted to talk to the man who gave the sermon. He was sitting at one of the tables talking to some of the members. I walked up to him and thanked him for the sermon he gave. He enthusiastically began talking to my companions and we were able to talk with him about our purpose as missionaries and how we were called to serve and what we did. He was really excited to hear about our work and told us that he admired us so much for all that we are doing.
We then found out that his wife, who was there as we were speaking, "used to be a member of the Mormon Church" and was now inactive. Surprise! She told us she was a convert to the Church and had met the missionaries a long time ago. So his wife already had a copy of The Book of Mormon. When I asked him if he would like a copy, he enthusiastically agreed and said that he was not offended at all but liked to study different religions. Well, that was definitely my awesome experience of the day. (7th Day Adventists actually have very similar beliefs to us. They, like us, have a living prophet by the name of Ellen White, if I can remember correctly. The major difference is that they worship on Saturday, which they believe is the day of the Sabbath)
First Week Evaluation of Jamestown:
1. filled with many retired people
2. many less active church members
3. a lot of countryside
4. people wear cowboy boots to church
I'm out in the boonies, but I love it! This week has been filled with work. Everyday my companions and I have come home exhausted and totally drained, but it just makes us feel so much better. I am definitely in the midst of the Lord's work and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)
I love y'all so much and can't wait to see you on Christmas (Natal!). I am going to try to Skype you sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 pm my time, which would be 8:30 and 9:00 am Philippine Time, which I guess would be on Thursday morning for you, so be ready! If Skype does not work, I will call Dad.
Te amo muito minha amorosa familia!