Monday, July 21, 2014

Temperature Control: Liahona Style

It's been a long, hard week, but it's also been an amazing week. That's a pattern that never fails: the hardest weeks are the weeks we see the most incredible, amazing, unbelievable miracles. I should just start getting really excited when I get down...unless that'll counteract it....

 So Merry and her family has been having a problem with the power, not being able to afford electricity. They've been pushing through the Arizona July heat without AC. They have no car to go anywhere, and have been driving each other crazy, and it's been a really, really hard time for them, even through all the miracles of being able to get food. So one day we went to teach them during hte hottest part of the day. We were mentally preparing ourselves and joking, "ready to sweat?" and as soon as we went in, we braced ourselves....and it was cool. We asked, "did you guys get power?" and they said no. The back sliding door was wide open, and they were using the barbecue as a stove to cook lunch, with a huge woodfire in it. There was no reason for that house to be cool at all.

 We chalked it up to weird physics and sat down to teach a lesson. Literally, Whenever we were reading scriptures and being nice to each other and the kids were running around playing and getting along, it was cool in the house. But the second someone said something mean, or they started to fight, and stopped getting along, the temperature rose. And as soon as they stopped, it got cool again. It's one of those miracles that you expect you can only read in the Bible, it was really awesome. The next day, we talked about the Liahona, how it only worked when people were being righteous, and we talked about the Spirit and how God was teaching them (better than we could) how it works and how to keep it around to protect you.

 That week we met a 16-year-old girl named Alisha. She's in a group home temporarily and misses her family terribly. She saw a pair of elders writing their family on Monday and thought, "hey, those look like Mormons...everyone tries to avoid them. I wonder why?" So she walked up and asked what they believed about God and all that. She lives in our area, and we get to teach her. She has such a super powerful relationship with God, and she knows He's the one who has gotten her through a lot of the hard things. She was super excited about the Book of Mormon when we introduced it to her. She had heard a lot about Mormons and asked us a lot of questions about chastity and the Word of Wisdom and all the "weird" things we do. She said it had a lot of rules, but after thinking about it for a moment, she said, "I like it. They're not midnless rules, they make a lot of sense. They sound really smart, they'd protect you from doing a lot of dumb things." She told a friend about us, and now Amy is sitting in on the lessons, too. Her mom converted about a month ago, and she wants to know what it's all about. 

 We've been teachinga  lot of youth, and it's been really really fun.

 Talie and Tammy got baptized on Saturday!! Talie said she felt so relieved, but also super cautiosu. She feels something different, and she knows that some of the things she hears or sees can make that feeling go away. And she doesn't want it to go away. Tammy feels the same way....they say finding good anime, and anime parodies, is going to be harder now, haha. But they're so amazing and powerful. And it's so cool they made the decision as sisters, and now they can keep each other strong and help each other out. They're looking forward to going to the temple, finally! c:

 Tammy said she also thinks everyday about whether or not she's going on a mission. She's like 13, but she wants to decide early. Super cool! She wants to go to Japan, of course. Haha! She's been surrounded by people who know people who serve/are serving in Japan, which is very much reinforcing it. XD I hope she does go. She'd be awesome.
 Talie would be too, if she wanted to. She didn't answer that question, though. :p I wish I could just hang out with these girls. SomedayI'm coming back and we are hanging out and talking about anime and eating ice cream and making up stories and RPs. I'm going to miss them too much.

 Also baptized on Saturday was Merry's kids who are old enough...three of them! So we have five baptisms that Saturday and five confirmations that Sunday! Sooooo powerful! There's something special about seeing kids getting baptized, too. I haven't been able to experience that so much yet on my mission, they're all usually older than me. But kids are so sensitive, and they describe how they feel in simple but perfect ways, and I love them all so much, it was just so cool and powerful. It's amazing to watch them as a family work their way back to God and to make all those hard changes in their lives. They all want to follow Christ's example and are always helping each other out. And it's amazing to see how visible God's hands are in their home. 

 And one last miracle: Sister Amary has been on the fence about baptizm for years. She's basically already Mormon--she even holds a calling!--but something was always holding her back. I don't have a lot of time, so I can't explain in as big of detail as I would like, so maybe this won't seem as big of a miracle as it is to me, but SHE'S GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!! 

 One miracle that contributed, we asked Merry who she wanted to have talk at her kids' baptism. She looked around, and saw her good friend Sister Amary, and said, "I'd like her to give the talk on baptism." She had no idea she wasn't already baptized (half of the ward doesn't know). So we could hardly contain our excitement as we agreed that that was a great idea and would ask if she was willing to do it. She looked a little shocked when Merry asked her (and we're grateful it was Merry who said it was her idea....the last thing we wanted was to make her think we were trying to force her into baptism. We've really not been pushy at all and didn't want to be), but she agreed, talked to us and did a bit of reading/study about it, and gave a really amazing talk about baptism at the baptism.

 ....there were a ton of little miracles this week that helped her, and it was really fun to sit back and not be pushy and see God just move things around to encourage her towards the choice of baptism. Super cool. Our Father is a God of miracles, and I wish I could express them all.

 The greatest miracle of all, though, was the Atonement. I haven't had time to say everything that happened this week, and I wish I could, because I can promise you that the Atonement really is a very real and very powerful thing. Christ changes lives, breathes life back into people who don't even want to get out of their car, and gives us the power to get through the hard times. He can keep us from getting discouraged, and He can keep us from giving up. Watching people apply His sacrifice, watching lives change for the better, is the greatest thing I've ever experienced. There's really nothing cooler than this.

 Thanks for being awesome, and thanks for all that you do! You are all amazing and I miss you! C: Love you all!

 -Sister Stratford

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