We got a text from Brittney (potential investigator), she wants us over for dinner as soon as she gets better from this sickness she's had. We had talked with her for about an hour just a couple days before and she told us she has a lot of Mormon friends. She joked about not knowing why she wasn't Mormon yet.
That same week we got a call from Jennifer (investigator), we were in an appointment so she had left a voicemail asking when she could be baptized. We hadn't heard from her after trying over and over to contact her in about a month, so we called her back and set an appointment for the next day. That lesson was amazing. We discussed her feelings and questions about the Restoration, her reading in The Book of Mormon, and taught the Plan of Salvation. We set a date for her to be baptized on February 6th and she wants to meet with us every other day leading up to it. So our next appointment was on Saturday. She met us at the stake center at 4 with her fiance (Fernando) and we reviewed The Gospel of Jesus Christ, we had a great discussion again and then stayed for a baptism at 5. She loved it! She keeps talking about how good she feels about all these things. Afterward she and Fernando took us out to the Macaroni Grill (next time you go get the Penne Rustica!). Our next appointment is tonight when we'll start the Commandments.
Wednesday the 13th we had Zone Training Meeting. Tuesday the day before I got a call from the zone leaders asking if I'd give a 45-minutes training on obedience for it. I accepted the assignment but was really confused, usually only the sister training leaders and the zone leaders give trainings at ZTM along with a guest from the stake high council or mission presidency. The zone leaders and President Lutz (mission presidency counselor) did, but I guess mine replace the sister training leaders (not to mention they usually have a month's notice). With the help from Dad's institute lesson in Doctrines of the Gospel on obedience, I put together a training and can say it was a success. Though I still pray it was what was needed and that it came from The Spirit and not from me.
Saturday (the 16th) we had what's called Zone 24's. Basically the entire zone gets together on a Friday night and we all switch companions for a day, meet again the following night, and re-exchange. No evaluation or anything after, just to build unity and see miracles. I went with Sister Bambus in her area, Laguna Beach (we didn't choose, the zone leaders and sister training leaders set it all up). She's pretty awesome, and one of the sister training leaders. She came out the transfer after I did. We had a good time, my favorite part was at dinner though. The member lived in an apartment on the 4th story and to give you an idea of the experience, we walked out to the balcony, looked down, and the edge of the water on the shore where the waves came in was directly below our feet. The weekend of Zone 24's was Stake Conference, it was nice to take a break from our 9-hour block.
Last Monday we had permission to leave the mission to got to Deseret Book (Sister Phinney needed stuff). It was sooooo fun to just look around for a couple hours.
Tuesday I had an interview with President Orgill right after emailing you. That is always a neat experience and I learned a whole lot. I won't go into too much detail but we spoke a lot on spiritual gifts, and there was a point when he expressed complete confidence in me. To summarize I guess, this interview was a tender mercy and an answer to some of my prayers.
That night, I was back with President Orgill, President Lutz, their wives, and a bunch of the sisters - including my trainer, Sister Hall - for dinner, or what we call a departing dinner. Sister Hall and a couple others are going home next week, so she invited me and a few others to come. It was a lot of fun and the food was really good.
That last picture you got in a text was from the Mulville family. Here's the make up of their family: Grandpa John and his wife (less-active) live in the Wood Canyon ward. Their son, John Jr. (also less-active) lives in the Aliso Viejo ward with his wife Kirsten (not a member) and their son, John III (also not a member). Colin (John III's brother, John Jr. and Kirsten's son, and Grandpa John's grandson) is serving a mission in Scotland/Ireland. (They all go by John by the way - except Kirsten, Grandma, and Colin of course - this is just how we keep them straight) And the best partis that they live literally next door to the Nixons (Scott and Mary aren't members, their son, Tommy, is serving a mission in British Columbia). We stopped by and they were just as excited to meet us and invite us in as the Nixons were. Kirsten turned on the oven and told us she was making cookies so we had to stay for at least 20 minutes. She then took a picture to send to you. We had a fun conversation and to answer your question I had the thought to give her Mosiah 28. I explained a little bit of background and that the story doesn't end at the end of that chapter. We have yet to go back to follow up. (No pun intended with John Bytheway, by the way)
Wednesday we had a worldwide missionary broadcast, which was pretty cool. I especially loved what Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke about the Doctrine of Christ, and he said "If you are ever unsure of what to say, speak of The Savior." We also reviewed Elder David A. Bednar's training about 2 Nephi 33:1 about the Holy Ghost being carried UNTO peoples hearts, including our own. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that everything is subordinate to the fact that we are children of God, and more on The Doctrine of Christ; I thought a lot on what Dad sent last week about the significance of God having a physical body in alignment with that. I also loved that Elder L. Whitney Clayton said, "The Restoration is a fact." We also got an update that there are currently about 75,000 full time missionaries serving in 418 missions across the world.
Later that day we had the opportunity to attend a session at the temple. I used my new bag you gave me for Christmas (it's perfect! I love it!). I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love the temple.
That night at dinner when they asked where we were from, I turned to the younger kids and asked where they thought we were from. As they were thinking, the mom asked some questions and at least found out I was from The States and Sister Phinney was out-of-country. While the kids were still thinking she turned to Sister Phinney and said, "Well, you're probably not from Canada..." which got us laughing and she was surprised at how accurate she was but in the opposite way. She then turned to me and said, "Okay, well you don't have a Texas accent, so..." she had no idea where we were from before guessing. The kids were laughing hysterically.
Thursday found me back in Rancho Santa Margarita since I found out that one of my investigators, Leslie, had passed away and I had permission to attend the funeral. She was the one who had severe colon cancer but she had 7 kids between ages 2-13. She had been put in a hospice with kidney failure and stayed there only a few days. It was really tough to see her husband and kids, and all the thoughts of them that I'm sure were running though everyone's minds there.
On another note, Saturday Gabriela and Alexis (less-active) took us out for breakfast at Denny's, which was a lot of fun. We're talking about Patriarchal Blessings with Alexis and she's doing really well, we're arranging for her to get rides to church while her mom is still trying to figure out her work situation.
We had a lot to look forward to that day, several set appointments and plans, but that all got thrown out the window as we were driving from Denny's. I was driving down a major road in the middle lane of 3 going about 50mph. As I came up over a hill I briefly saw a car sitting on the road in front of me directly perpendicular to our car, so in the split second I had to react I tried swerving into the other lane but there was no time and we almost T-boned that car, but we did directly crash into. Had I not slightly swerved I would've hit the car directly at the driver's door. The other driver was an older lady pulling out from a side road with a stop sign, but she was going so slow I didn't realize her car was even moving, it had seemed to be only sitting in the middle of the road. The accident wasn't preventable, neither was it my fault. We slid to a stop and when I opened my eyes, all the airbags had gone off and smoke was filling the car. We turned the engine off and I got out, Sister Phinney had to crawl over through my door since hers was against the other car and couldn't be opened. Our car is totaled, the other driver is fine, and I walked away untouched, not a single scratch. I've literally had worse injuries flipping through pages and getting a paper cut. Sister Phinney is fine too, but she may have broken her thumb, she has a huge gash on her leg but it's not deep just scraped up on the surface, and she hit her head so we were brought to the hospital to get it checked out just in case. They said there's no problem when we got there and she was good to go after signing a few papers. Sister Bambus and her companion picked us up and brought us to the church where we met with Jennifer and Fernando as I explained earlier in this email. The next day I didn't feel sore in the slightest like the doctors told me I would, but Sister Phinney woke up with pain in her back, neck, and head so we stayed home to let her rest and recover. I have no idea how or why I came out of this crash unaffected.
Last night we had dinner at the bishop's house with Scott Nixon, Mary couldn't make it because she was sick again. But it was good, I'm so glad they're starting to meet more members.
I printed your email from last week Landon, and I've read your question over and over. To be honest, I can see myself turning around and asking the same thing in the same way. I've thought of it a lot this week and I have a few thoughts just form my experience.
One way I feel Heavenly Father's love for me a little more is by reading the words of the prophets. The scriptures are wonderful, and my testimony of them, especially The Book of Mormon, is unshaken. But I have grown to delight in the words of modern-day prophets, and the confidence and insight I recognize as I study and ponder them brings a warm spirit with motivation to act accordingly. You've experienced this. I love President Monson, his counselors, and each of the Apostles. Every morning while getting ready for the day I listen to the talks from the most recent General Conference over and over. This allows The Spirit to bring specific principles back to remembrance often throughout each day, and when I make that connection and apply the principle, I am also reminded by a subtle but distinct feeling that Heavenly Father has love for me in the details of my life relating to what is most important. I hope that makes sense...
Another way I feel love from Him is by watching how He shows love for those around me. When others tell of tender mercies or miracles, express gratitude, or invite those around them to be included, I know He is active in my experiences as well. I used to feel that others' accomplishments, opportunities, or involvement took away from my own, and I know I have acted on that selfish mindset throughout most of my time growing up, but as I've sought ways to turn that around I have more fully realized the immeasurable privileges and blessings I do have as a result of His love for me. I'm coming to know what it means to rejoice in the joy of those I associate with rather than getting in the way of my own chances to experience joy. This requires active eyes to see and ears to hear, and you are doing the very things that allow that. But this is what I've learned from you, this is not new to you and you're even really good at it and have shown me how. It just took me much longer than it should have to humbly, prayerfully, and actively follow that example. And I didn't think and couldn't know of His love this way until I did. In the first chapter of The Book of Mormon it says, "I . . . will show unto you that the tender mercies of The Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." and in the last chapter of The Book of Mormon it says, "I would . . . that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts."
The last thought I have for you so far with this is something I am striving to apply more. How do you personally feel love from those around you? Oftentimes Heavenly Father helps us comprehend (to a degree) eternal principles, like His love, through our earthly experiences. For example, our family relationships are a pattern of our heavenly home; one specific way I know that is real is because the times I've talked with Dad help me make my relationship with Heavenly Father more meaningful and trusting as I talk with Him through prayer. It's easier to explain that to you than to most people because you know Dad, but at the same time that application is also very personal to me in a special way that no one else (including you) could fully understand. I believe Heavenly Father's love for each of us individually is much like that, impossible to convey exactly the same to 2 separate people but still perfect for all of us. Isn't He wonderful?
All that said though, I sure love you Landon. I really hope you can feel that because I have felt love from you even through last week's email when you sent me that question. And just as I explained about 2 paragraphs up, that doesn't take away my love fore the rest of the family in the slightest. I love you Casan, I love you Aubrey, I love you Mom, I love you Dad, I love you Kynsie, I love you Tyler. I love Heavenly Father and I love my Savior Jesus Christ.
I forgot a ponderizing scripture this time so here is my inspirational one of the week for ya - Alma 18:27.
- Sister Shumway