At MLC a couple transfers back, Sister Stoddard gave a theme and said something along the lines of "instead of setting baptismal dates with investigators, you missionaries should set temple dates and then set baptismal dates for a year earlier. That way, the people you teach understand what the real goal is and what this message we're out here sharing is really about"
Saturday night, we called that family who randomly showed up at church last week to let them know they were welcome to come again (we didn't have an opportunity to meet with them throughout the week). Endurance picked up the phone and was like "Sister, we just walked through the door...can we just talk at church tomorrow?" We were like. Oh. Okay. Yes. Perfect. Sure enough, Kingsley, Endurance and Edwin were sitting pretty in a pew today before Sister Johnson and I even got there. That suggestion of Sister Stoddard’s hit me like a ton of bricks while sitting next to them during sacrament meeting (the Holy Ghost. Isn't he the best?! Hitting people with bricks. Must be fun)...so Sister Johnson and I went into our lesson with them later on with that in mind. We told her all about eternal families and how those ties can extend past death when husbands and wives and parents and children are sealed together in the house of the Lord. We showed her pictures of the temple and invited her to start preparing to enter into it....and she was so excited, she started slapping her boyfriend (who, plot twist, turned out to be a member). She said "wait. So your church will let me go in there even though I have kids?" And we said "yes! In fact, we encourage and urge you to prepare to go ESPECIALLY because you have kids! There's nothing that will bless their life, or the life of your family as a whole, more than that!" We then explained that, in order to enter into the Lord’s house, she would need to be baptized by someone holding His authority...and homegirl didn't miss a beat!! "Yes! Yes I will be baptized!" she said.
It was pretty funny because as our lesson was winding down, she said "you know what? I've seen you around a lot. You're always on the busses. One time, you sat across from me, so I pulled out my phone and pretended to be talking to someone on it so you wouldn't talk to me!" Sister Johnson and I got a kick out of that, for sure...but it was actually really good she told us that because it brought to light her only issue with the church: The Book of Mormon. "It's not the Bible!" she said! "I have a big problem with that!" Thankfully, we were able to resolve said problem really quickly by reading 2 Nephi 29: 7 & 8 with her:
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the (children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
She understood after reading that that the Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible, nor does anything contained in its 500+ pages conflict with the Bible, but the two books go hand in hand and help us grow in faith and testimony in Jesus Christ and His gospel.
After our lesson with her, our other two appointments fell out. Our backup plan was to go do doors in an area over by the church...so off we went! While we were walking over, we saw a group of people standing around talking, so we approached them with “BecauseHeLives” cards. They all turned to look at us, and we recognized one of the girls as someone we'd contacted a few days ago! We met her on Monday night and invited her to take a church tour the next evening, an invitation that she readily accepted. We waited around the church for about 15 minutes on Tuesday...and she never showed up :( however, Sister Johnson and I think the Lord was working some sort of invisibility cloak miracle, because when we asked her what happened yesterday, she was like "I came! It's that building right over there, right?! I went right up to the doors but they were locked and all the lights were off!"
The lord had bigger plans in mind.
We invited her and 6 people who were with her to all come inside the church right then in there!
They were Muslim, so we focused the tour on Jesus Christ and his ministry. We ended in the chapel, where the beautifully talented Sister Johnson (obsessed with her) played "how great thou art" on the piano. They were all so touched!! We explained to them what exactly it is that we do as missionaries and asked them if they would like to meet again and learn more about Jesus Christ.
I will never forget the looks on their faces.
With big smiles and exaggerated nods, they accepted our invitation and then proceeded to give us the biggest hugs EVER. They were from (I'll give you a wild guess) ALBANIA, so we couldn't communicate super, super well (the girl we'd met on Monday night spoke perfect English and was translating the whole time) but they just kept gesturing to the hearts and smiling and looking at each other and nodding and OH MY HEAVENS SISTER JOHNSON AND I JUST BROKE DOWN IN TEARS.
We had had SUCH a rough week. Pretty much everything had fallen out. Potentials weren't answering. Investigators were canceling. We were getting ignored and shut down by just about everyone all week long. My daily journal entries seemed to all contain something along the lines of "WHYYYYY" or "I’M SO FRUSTRATEDDDD". During weekly planning last week, we felt inspired to set a goal of finding 5 new investigators and despite our hardest, sincerest efforts...we hadn't even come close by the time Sunday rolled around. Then BOOM. 6 new investigators in one day! Miracle after miracle! Those weren't the only two, though! Ben came to church and is progressing really well towards baptism on the 14th of next month. 2 random people showed up as well! One of them being someone Sister Johnson had briefly talked with on a bus earlier this week. On top of all that, before leaving, one of our little Albanian friends was like "everyone wants to come inside your church! Our neighbors, my sisters, everyone!" We were like "oh my gosh, they're so welcome to come!!" And they're going to on Wednesday! (:
I have some other really incredible stories to share with you...but this email is already long enough. Basically, the Lord is just incredible. I kneel down to pray and just feel like no expressions of gratitude or praise even scratch the surface of my love and thankfulness for the Heavenly Father, His son Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost and this wonderful work of Theirs that I get to be a part of. I love being a missionary. I can't say it enough. A mission is the place to be. I'm so glad I'm here.
I hope y’all had a great week.
I'll talk to you soon!
- Sister Terry
P.S. guess who hits their year mark in Germany this week?! Ahhhh time needs to SLOW. DOWN.