Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ravaging Rottweilers?! Retreat!

Happy Tuesday!

Wow, what a pack loaded week! I prayed that I would have some interesting stories to tell y'all (Yes, I'm now accepting the word y'all, it only took me about 10 months to start saying it in my daily conversations) and boy, did Heavenly Father deliver! This is a really long email, I'm sorry that I'm not sorry. Tee-hee!

As we were driving back from the mission home on P-day (President wanted to give us a book to help us with Bi. and Bo.'s deep questions) we saw a farmers market that sold muscadines. For those who have no idea what those are, they're a Georgian fruit and since you're only on a mission once (as a young adult), Sister Sullivan and I just HAD to go buy some muscadines, and our first real white Georgia peaches! We got home, and boy I wish I had recorded us tasting our first muscadines, because they were NASTY. They're larger than a grape, have really thick skin, and have REALLY bitter seeds. Did we know that? Of course not! We later found out that they are used for jellies, and for making wine if my sources are correct. It was such a bummer, but of course what else are you going to do with a pound of muscadines? Give them to missionaries that have never tried them, and record their reactions as they bite down on the bitter seed for the first time! Good times!
We were so excited about our muscadines...
and then we ate one!  It was a bitter experience. 
So I've learned that I've been developing some certain fears on the mission, and I'll be sure to tell you them throughout this email. But the first one is the fear of flying insects. Ever since I got stung by a red hornet I want absolutely nothing to do with insects even though I'm doing nothing to provoke their angry tendencies. Sister Sullivan thinks it's kinda funny how I act now whenever bugs seem to get close to me.

Anyhow, it was such a joy to teach T. the Plan of Salvation this week, I feel so appreciated because he's considered an 'eternigator' meaning, he's been investigating the church for FOREVER. He's had many missionaries, but he always says that he has the best missionaries. T. has been very excited to get baptized, and he even announced in church during Priesthood that he was getting baptized on the 13th of September. It'll be interesting teaching him the lessons so quickly, but he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, he's already passed 2 Nephi 2!

Bi. and Bo. were unable to meet with us this week because they had to go to a niece's graduation, and a funeral, but next week! :)

We have met a lot of people this week, and we've been getting a bunch of referrals from members and investigators. One of our investigators gave us a referral to her neighbor who had just moved in. They were out in the country so we had to drive down their driveway through the forest to get to their house. As we were driving we noticed two Rottweilers sprinting towards us at top speed bearing their teeth at us. Sister Sullivan grabbed onto me and said, "Don't get out of the car!" and she started to reverse at snail speed while using our rear camera to get out of their driveway as the dogs continued to bark and growl at us. We finally got out of their driveway and we just started to laugh, and although we may have broken that rule to not have me back the car as she was in reverse, we didn't entirely feel bad because I would have rather kept my body in one piece that day. Referral contacted, we don't care what anyone else says! So, funnily enough I'm not afraid of dogs although I've had crazy stories about killer dogs.

We taught seminary one day this last week, and I have such an appreciation for all of my seminary teacher who had to endure the teenager stares early in the morning. It was my first time teaching, and I'm guessing it most certainly won't be the last!

T., Le., and Ta. are being baptized this Saturday, and they are the more pure, sweetest family I've ever met. We were teaching them about modesty and how we wear sleeves (something they don't do) and T. excused herself and brought back a dress. She asked us if the dress would only be appropriate if she wore a jacket over it. We told her yes, and she was happy that she knew the rules, and continued on. Another moment was when we were teaching them about tithing. T. mentioned that she will pay 20% of her income for tithing. We actually had to convince her that the prophet has told us to pay no more or no less than 10%. Usually missionaries have difficulties with people paying 10% of tithing, not the other way around! :) For the first time since we've met them, all three of them were able to come to church together. No one has broken into their apartment since, and I now have an even stronger testimony of the priesthood, and dedicating the home. T. was asked to be picked up 15 minutes after Le. and Ta. for a few reasons, and we had to frantically get her a ride. She told us that if we couldn't find her one, she'd walk to church if she had to. I find that T. has such great appreciation and diligence for going to church, considering church is over 7 miles away from where she lives! Thankfully, we got a ride for her so no walking was necessary. :D

Sister Sullivan and I have been getting bored with our music, so we decided to take drastic measures into our own hands. My MP3 player has some Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas music featuring David Archuleta. That's right, we are listening to Christmas music in August and September, I think I've even beat my Mom pulling out the Christmas music months before December! :) Am I right Mom? (Her mother's note:  I actually listened to it once in July, so I still have her beat!  But it sounds like she's listened to it more frequently than me--so she has me beat.  Let's just say it's a tie.)  The hymns that we have are just so simple, and we wanted some tunes that had complex chords and harmonies, we've been enjoying it greatly.

It was a really cool experience this week, there was a miscommunication with Le's family about having a lesson one evening, so we were in the parking lot talking to the member that was going to teach with us, asking her "Who do you know?" and a woman came up to us asking if she could talk to us when we were done. Sister Sullivan said that we would talk to her right now, and she ended up becoming a new investigator. She ended up returning all of her library books so she can just read the Book of Mormon. I was on a split to see M. and B. for their first lesson, but she and her husband are very sweet, and just live below them. :) It makes me smile when people notice that we represent Jesus Christ, and we have a message that they don't have but want.

I found out that M. and B. haven't been reading/listening to the Book of Mormon, nor praying the past week. They don't have a desire anymore to get married, and they haven't really been working on the divorce papers. Unfortunately they don't understand our purpose as missionaries, due to the fact that they invited us to Lil M's 3rd birthday party, but asked us to take off our name tags because their family members wouldn't like it. We told them we wouldn't because it was a sacred calling to represent Jesus Christ for eighteen months. They were out of town this weekend and still aren't home yet. But we didn't go to his birthday party on Saturday, so we'll see if they want to continue being taught.

So shout out to my recent convert Brother P! Sister Sullivan and I have been getting pretty sick, and have been eating Tums like they're candy (slight exaggeration) and Sister Lake told me to buy some things before our next appointment. Kroger was the closest store, so I HAD to see if what Brother P. told me was true. The bar code on the back of a Book of Mormon is the equivalent to a Krogers Plus Card. I should have never questioned him, because it's true! We used a self scan checkout in case I would have made a fool of myself, but just imagine the conversation starter when we do check out with a cashier! "You can just scan this Book of Mormon for my card." "Oh why? Well, did you know one of the CEOs of Kroger's is LDS?" "Have you ever heard about our church?" "No? Oh well let me tell you!" and so on. :D
Scanning the Book of Mormon at our favorite local grocer!
Another amazing miracle that happened this week is that Brother R. is also getting baptized this Saturday! When Sister Sullivan and Freeman were companions, they taught a grandma and her grandkids, and they got baptized in June. Grandpa wants to get baptized this Saturday, but he hasn't even had all of the lessons! We started lesson one last Saturday, and he decided he was getting baptized on the 6th. We made a baptismal calendar for him where we have to meet with him at 8pm every night and go through all of the lessons in one week. Some baptismal calendar! You know you're a pro missionary when you teach one person everything in one week! His family is so ecstatic, because his wife Ju. really wants to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. :) Now we must teach the grandkid's Mom!
So I don't recall if I've mentioned that our apartment is infested with baby roaches, but they are. I've told Sister Sullivan one of my fears that I'm afraid that I'll wake up and walk to get ready to exercise, and I'll step on a live/dead bug barefoot. Unfortunately, that fear came true not two but three times this week. It's just the grossest thing ever, and Sister Sullivan told me about a time when she stepped on a mouse that got poisoned and killed it and how grossed out she was. Later that Saturday, we were at V. and D.'s to see how they were doing, and she accidentally stepped on their little teacup puppy Lily! Long story short, she was acting weird, but we had another appointment to go to so we prayed for her multiple times. We talked to one of the members and told us to tell V. to take her to the emergency vet clinic, turns out they were already there. Sister Sullivan paid for their x-rays since they couldn't afford it, but V. insisted on paying her back, and that if she could, she'd go to church. (We aren't going to turn down her coming to church, we've been trying to get her there!) Lily had some fluid in her lungs, but she'd be fine. Amazingly enough they weren't angry at all since it was an accident, and invited us over for dinner on Sunday for empanadas (My first ones ever, SO good) and Lily is doing great! Miracles!

Ja. is slowly but surely getting closer to baptism. (She's the teenage girl of the recent convert.) We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and we asked all of the kids to draw it out, and they were SO good, as good as any kids I've ever taught when it came to teaching a lesson. Ja. was answering questions, and I feel like she really understood the Plan of Salvation compared to when the elders taught her family. Ja. was even proud of her drawing and said that she'd keep it. Progression! :)

Sister Warner raved about this one potential that she met before I got to Fayetteville, and we FINALLY had the first lesson with M., and his wife Lak., and daughter D'! It was Sunday morning, and they are just an amazing family. I'm so grateful that she raved about them or I wouldn't have been so persistent with trying to set up an appointment with them because M. is a truck driver so he isn't home a whole lot. Sister Stanton convinced them to come to church although they had a LOT on their plate on Sunday. They said they'd come for the first hour, and ended up staying for two. D' came to Gospel Principles although she's 13, but it was the perfect lesson for her since her parents have been trying to teach her about being honest, and that was the subject. Lak. even asked if she could buy a gospel principle book, and beamed when we told them they could have it for free. They're coming back and staying all three hours next week, and we're teaching them again Sunday morning. :) We had nine investigators at church this week, and that's a new record! Heavenly Father is so good to Sister Sullivan and I!

I had an eye opening experience as I was reading in the New Testament this week about how Jesus Christ was trying to get the Pharisees to believe that he was the Savior of the World. He wanted people to believe and have faith so he could perform miracles for them. But since they didn't have faith, he couldn't convince them or show them the light. It made me think about how missionaries want to give people the gospel so badly, and saddens us when people shut the door on us because we know of the blessings that the restored gospel brings. It hit me on how much Christ wanted people to listen to him, and I almost just broke down in tears because I was able to feel just a little portion on how he felt. I realized that missionary work is hard, but it's nothing compared to what Christ went through. Now when I face something hard, I can think back to that experience and admit that what I'm going through is nothing compared to what Christ went though.

I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day full of non-laborious activities, and I hope to let you all know next week that I'm NOT getting transferred! :)

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  I love the church signs in Georgia! 

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