Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence and Freedom!!!

Aw yeah, 'Murica!! We had a good 4th of July. We had to be in early,
and we were planning on having some party time, but honestly we all
were just so exhausted that we played two or three games of Boggle and
just wrote in our journals. It was nice to have some rest, haha.

This was my last "go-in-early" holiday of my mission. Weird.

Also, July 2nd officially marked me being here for a full year. At
this time last year, I wrote to tell you all that I was in Phoenix and
that I loved Laveen. I've served in this stake for a year. We
celebrated by having ice cream. And, on that same day, I got my trunky
call. Which is when they call and say, "we have to book your flight 90
days before you go home, so we need to know which airport is closest
to home."

I go home in (circa) 90 days. Gah. You guys, when I first came to
Phoenix, I was bewildered and blinking and had just finished my 90
days of training. I've like spent my whole mission here. So crazy....

We had two people walk into church just off the street, yesterday!!
That was super fun! We have the "visitors welcome" sign, like all
church buildings do, so it's nice when someone takes us up on the
offer :p

Julio got to go to the temple this week!!! Yeah! He loved it! He had
such cool experiences in the temple, and some he said he couldn't
quite describe because words would ruin it. However, his family has
gone from disapproving but supportive enough to come to his baptism,
to not supportive at all, to actively trying to pull him away from the
church. It's so sad! The day after the temple, his family decided he
needed an intervention and they cornered him in a circle to tell him
why this church was evil, showed him some videos, tried to convince
him to leave. He's taking it like a boss, though. He was like, "you
guys don't get it. I just went to the temple yesterday and had all
these cool indescribable experiences. It's the truth, and I can't deny
that." Still, good attitude or no ("well, it was the first time we'd
all been together in years, so there's that!"), we can see that it's
really rough on him—how can it not? I can't imagine, that'd be so
hard!—and we make sure his friends in the ward know somethings going
on and he needs some solid support. No journey or adventure was ever
meant to be had alone, especially when it's this hard. That's why the
Savior did what He did, so even when we feel alone, we're not. He's
there, and wherever there are true Christians, true followers of His
Word, no one ever needs to be without a friend.

Michelle is feeling better, thank goodness! But, when we went, she just has so many bad influences. There's so much
darkness when we go by to see her, and it's so sad. She's looking for
the light, and she sees it and recognizes it when it's there, but
she's just not strong enough to keep it around with so much darkness
around her. We're trying to see her everyday to try to keep her

We've been eager to try the popcorn experiment again, but we've had
such beautiful weather lately, it hasn't been hot enough! Beautiful
clouds and summer rain and thunderstorms, it's been awesome! I love
cloudy weather and wind. It makes me feel like I'm on the brink of
doing something amazing. It's nice when it's warm instead of cold,

I love being a missionary! I love the weather and the people and the
work and the Lord! There has seriously been nothing better in my life.
Serving a mission has been my best decision in my life.

Thanks for the prayers and encouragement! I love and miss you all! :)

Sister Stratford

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