This week has been incredible in so many ways. We had an exchange with the Chorley sisters for two days and I learned so much from being with Sister Holbrook in Chorley (her companion stayed here in Lancaster with Sister A). Chorley is where the MTC and temple are and I got to walk past them so much! I even saw two of my MTC teachers! One was just driving by and he took a double take and then waved at me laughing. I'm sure he didn't expect to see me again so soon. The other one, Sister Wittmaak, actually came teaching with us for an afternoon. It was great : ) It is weird how each area of the mission is so different. Finding in Chorley was tricky because everyone knows about the temple and they have a lot of preconceived notions about Mormons. In Lancaster no one knows much, so we are coming from a different angle. The exchanged ended with...drum roll, my first zone conference!
Zone conference was INCREDIBLE! My spirit was so invigorated. Sister Bullock made us cookies : ) They were heart-shaped which tied into her talk, which was about being Pure in Heart. President Bullock talked to us about the power of the priesthood and the reality of miracles. I know I have seen miracles in my life and it was good to be reminded of that. I decided to buy "miracle journal" where I will record the miracles I've had before now and start to record the ones I see on my mission. I think I need to show the Lord how much those miracles mean to me, and Lancaster is seeing lots of them!
My first investigator was baptized this week! It was incredible. When Philip was drawn up out of the water I had the most exhilarating feeling of accomplishment and simultaneously knew that it was not me at all, but the Lord, that brought him to that point. It's a beautiful combination of emotions. Yes, we worked hard to bring the Spirit, but the Spirit is what changed Philip. He was so happy and I loved testifying to him that all of this happiness is because of Christ! It truly is, and I feel privileged to be the one to proclaim it.
Sister Anderson is teaching me so much! She is very patient with my shortcomings and takes every opportunity to remind me that we are supposed to be equally yoked. She trusts me enough to let me have a say and learn from my experiences teaching. I'm just grateful the Spirit is always there to make up the difference, because sometimes I think I make no sense at all to these Brits! She is also helping me understand the English culture better. I had a breakthrough this week when I realized that people really are happy at church, they just don't show it the way I do! Because the culture is reserved in general, even members don't wear their emotions on their sleeves, which, coming from the Mindy Davis home, you can imagine is something for me to get used to! I know that seems silly, but it makes such a difference to realize that. This gospel is about joy and knowing I'm bringing that joy to others (be it members, my companion, investigators or strangers) is the only thing that could keep me going! It has been frustrating feeling like I'm NOT bringing that joy to others, but I think I am. It's just not communicated the way I'm accustomed to.
We have two more investigators preparing to be baptized! They are both shooting for the 25th so it will be a combined baptism. I don't have time to go into detail, but their names are Andrew and Liam and they are both ace. Sister Anderson just keeps saying, "This doesn't happen in Lancaster, Sister. This does not happen!" We are so being blessed. I'm so aware that this is not me but the Lord. I still get the feeling that there are more out there, though. I am focusing my efforts on refining my skills to show the Lord that I want to be ready to teach them.
All of these things are miraculous, but in between amazing experiences, there is, of course, drudgery. I am still learning how to push through those hours with a perfect brightness of hope. It is hard. And I suppose it's good that it is hard. My faith IS growing because of my challenges. I want you to know that I get distinct promptings daily that my success in overcoming the obstacles is directly linked to the power of YOUR prayers, the prayers of the rest of the family, and the prayers of friends. The Lord doesn't spare an opportunity to let me know that I'm not alone (in my success or my challenges). This is a team effort!