Monday, February 16, 2015

Some Clarity on Charity

Wow. The week of love. 

What a great week this has been for me to learn about love that lasts and love that doesn't last. I have been so grateful for this mission experience to help me learn about what TRUE love is.
True love is Charity. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Charity is loving others so much, that you are truly motivated by a sincere desire to serve them. Your thoughts become others-focused and you act accordingly. I have been blessed to see this powerfully in my companions and in members throughout the mission. I am working so that I can see it in myself. 
Charity lasts. 

Anyway. I had a great week. 
Monday, Sister Jones and I went out to buffalo wild wings for lunch and to take care of some weekly planning. Then we got a call from a recently reactivated member about coming to visit her. I just kind of had a really sick feeling about it. I told Sister Jones how I was feeling... but we didn't know what to tell her. So we just went over... 
It wasn't an uplifting experience. I don't really want to say more about it. But afterward, we were able to talk about it and it was such a positive moment to have open communication and talking about ideas that we could have done better or that we can change next time... I know I'm being very vauge about the situation and I apologize for that haha. But I just wanted to write about how grateful I've been all week long to have such open communication with my companion, because it's not always easy to have that with people - to be able to express how you both really feel in an open, constructive way. And I feel like this situation is where all of our communication really stemmed from. So that was cool. 
Moving on...

Tuesday a member family from Sister Jones' old area came to visit with her and to take us out to brunch. They were so nice and so kind to both of us. They brought me a birthday present, even though they'd never met me before in their lives. They were awesome! We were able to teach a couple of less active members and to find a potential weekly service activity so that was good. We reviewed our family feud game with the elders and the Clarksons and everything looked good. 
A member family took us out to eat at Hoss'. It's kind of like... the Pennsylvania version of chuck-a-rama, I guess you could say. It was fun. They were SUPER old and adorable and really nice. It was so fun to sit and listen to them tell stories. 
Then we had Book of Mormon class which was cool. I've never actually had a successful one of those before, but a lot of people came out. We were able to read from ether and moroni about Shiz and the destruction of the people and whatnot. We had an awesome discussion about that. Members are so cool. 

Wednesday we had an awesome team up with a member who decided that she wanted to be awesome and spend all day with the sister missionaries. Because she was so willing to help out, we were able to get so much work done. We saw a recent convert and met with two less actives. Then she took us out to lunch to top it all off! She was an angel in disguise, and so fun to spend time with. Members like that make missionary work SO much more enjoyable. We love Sister Howard! 
We had dinner at a members house that night and it was so funny because I forgot that Sister Jones had told me that one of the members is terrified of germs and everything. So we were thanking them for dinner and saying goodbye and I reached out to shake his hand, and he just nodded his head at me and then I remembered that he doesn't shake people's hands and my face went BRIGHT red and everyone started laughing with me and it was just so funny.
I was blushing for a good 20 minutes after that one. 
Blessed moments...

On Thursday we had a great exchange with the Sisters in Fairview. I was able to work in Fairview with Sister Aston. She's adorable! We had so much fun together. We went to their house in the early afternoon, and decided that we'd all just go to lunch together to discuss the exchange, since we all had to eat, and no one had any set appointments until one. First, we stopped by a chiropractors office. There's a member who owns it and he gives free adjustments to missionaries. It...was...AMAZING. I have missed going to the chiropractor so much. I love adjustments. He said that my back was one of the worst he'd ever seen in a sister, so I got extra special care and I felt like a newborn child when I left. It was definitely a highlight for me. 
Then we went to a Mexican restaurant. We found out that it was Sister Aston's year mark, so we got fried ice cream to celebrate :) 
Our exchange was awesome. We visited a less active who had this GIANT great dane that just came up and tried to sit on my lap. It was so funny. Then we did service for a nonmember who loves family history. We cut out obituaries from the newspapers and glued them onto note cards for filing at the family history center. She loves temple work, too. She always gets names for members to take to the temple. But she doesn't want to take the lessons? Someone explain that one to me...  She was so nice.
Then we had an awesome lesson with another less active. At first, we weren't getting a really good read on how to help her. But then Sister Aston started asking all these inspired questions, and the spirit was so strong. The member opened up and told us how her heart really wasn't in it. She knew she wasn't being humble or willing to accept the word and somehow we got on the topic of spiritual gifts and how she needs to figure out what hers are through faithful prayer and she just broke down crying and it was AWESOME! 
So that was a cool lesson. 
After that we headed to dinner but we were a little early so we tried to find a less active member who supposedly lived nearby. We found the mailbox out on the side of the road but there wasn't a house to go with the mailbox so we were really confused. We parked the car and started walking around looking for it. Then we realized that it was 9 degrees outside and walking around was really cold so we started RUNNING around this neighborhood... we probably looked crazy.
We didn't even find the guy. 
But the members were awesome. They were your typical back woods Pennsylvanians. They shared their conversion story and we shared a spiritual thought. It was awesome. 
Then we had my favorite lesson of the day with Renee and John and Reece. They are getting baptized this saturday, actually. But they were just so attentive and listened so well and really thought about the questions we asked. It was an awesome lesson. By the end, Renee was telling me, "you should leave Gettysburg and come live in Fairview." haha it was so sweet! So Sister Jones and I are going to do all that we can to make it to their baptism this Saturday
After that, we had a quick visit with an elderly member who let me ride around her apartment in her electric wheelchair. It was better than Herhsey Park.

Friday we exchanged back at Zone training. I was happy to be with Sister Jones again. :) We had a good training. Sister Johnson trained on the parable of the sower. President Johnson said some words on how safety trumps all. The zone leaders taught about "Teaching the Savior's Way" and we were able to help out in teaching that. I was nervous but it ended up okay, I think. 
After training, we headed home with the Clarksons to set up for Family Feud. Then President Johnson took us out to dinner with him, his wife, and the Clarksons. It was so fun. He's the best mission president in the whole world.
After dinner, we all went to Family Feud. It was a great turnout, and I think people had a lot of fun! 

I feel like I always start these emails so gung-ho to tell everyone about my week... and then I just start fizzling off. I really do have fun as a missionary, I swear. 

Saturday there was a wedding at the church. We set up for that and helped get everything ready and go smoothly. It was kind of fun spending valentines day at a wedding. It was also cool just knowing that hopefully some day that couple will make it to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. 
The highlight of the wedding was line dancing to boot scootin boogie with Sister Jones and all the little kiddies. We were laughing so hard. 
We had to leave the wedding a little early because we had dinner and a lesson with our AWESOME investigators Don and Teri. They made birthday dinner for me and birthday dessert, too. They even got me a birthday card. It was the sweetest thing of all time. They are miracles. Teri is a fantastic cook. She made me SKOR BAR CAKE. MOM, did you hear that? It was the best. 
We had a lesson with them and talked about prophets. I always have a hard time in our lessons with them, because I don't really feel like they're my investigators, you know what I mean? I feel like they're still Sister Jones and Sister Peterson's investigators, not Sister Jones and Sister Bills' investigators. I don't know why I feel that way. So during our lesson on Saturday I made an extra effort to try and help them and to speak up and answer questions and whatnot. I felt a little better, but not much. I love Don and Teri. I just don't feel like I'm helping them at all by being there. It's a pride thing and I know it. So on the way home from our lesson, I voiced my thoughts and concerns with my companion. She was able to help me so much. We were then able to talk about other things that had been on both of our minds all week. I can't express enough how wonderful of a blessing it is to have a companion that you can just be so candid with and still have it be a positive experience. 
I love Sister Jones. 

Sunday was so fun. It was kind of a bummer. Because the weather has been so cold and the roads were so icy, they cancelled church and so we had a snow day. So I was just bummed out all day because I couldn't renew my baptismal covenants. But it turned out to be pretty fun. We were sitting there, eating chocolate cake for breakfast, and a member family decided to brave the weather and come pick us up so we could spend the day at their house. They are like our family out here, seriously - the Shearer's. We love them. We're actually going over tonight for a family home evening with them. But anyway. We spent all day yesterday with them. Laughing and playing games and watching 17 miracles and playing the ukulele and telling stories. It was so wonderful. They make my life perfect. 
So the snow day ended up being a blessing. 

Today should be awesome, too! We'll be going bowling to celebrate my birthday. I love my district.

But anyway! I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be 20 tomorrow!! I can't believe that I've been alive for so long. 
Thanks everyone for all of the birthday wishes and support. I love you all!! 

The Lord lives. 

Hermana Bills 

Ps. I still have pictures from like 4 weeks ago that I need to send out. Sorry for the delay ;)