Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Miracles (Bayley)

Happy belated Easter dearest peoples!  Yesterday was "San Jacinto Day" in little ol' Pasadena - a holiday that necessitated the closure of all libraries, despite the fact that nobody I asked seemed to have any idea exactly what the holiday was for.  And so once again I am emailing a day late, but the exception of perhaps a few of my younger brothers, most of you should still have Easter candy in your possession so we'll just pretend that it's basically still Easter, alright?  I celebrated Easter by consuming a ridiculous amount of jellybeans the day before to hold me over for our mission-wide fast on Easter Sunday.  It was only mildly torturous when a member showed up Easter morning with a basket full of Oreos and Reeses, especially since I was already painfuly aware of all the chocolate tucked away in my Easter package (thanks family!) I'd received the day before.  But it was all good.  Easter as a missionary is pretty amazing.  I feel like in just the few months I've been out here (it's been what, one? Two? something like that I'm pretty sure) I've come to know my Savior so much more than before, and I've come to love him not only as my Savior and Redeemer, but also as my brother.  If you have not yet seen the Mormon Message "Because of Him," you should go fix that right now.  It is because of Christ that everything is possible.  If it wasn't for him, there wouldn't be any point to anything we do in this life - or even to this life at all.  And I love that we have Easter to celebrate that fact (even though in all honesty we should be celebrating that each and every day).

That said, this last week was an absolute MIRACLE week.  I feel like I say that each and every week, but seriously guys - MIRACLES.

To begin, allow me to share with you some wisdom I've gained on my mission.  Too often I think we expect to feel the Spirit as like some sort of intense-feeling-lightning-bolt-of-emotion, which don't get me wrong, I know happens on occasion, but the truth is that if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and living our lives in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ, every single thing we do is guided by the Spirit - is us acting on a prompting because he is prompting us in everything.  True story.  Take, for example, an experience Sister Crump and I had earlier this week.  We've been engaged in a prank war with our Zone Leaders (which we are winning by like 5 million points, for the record) and so after going to check on a less active member whose address took us to an empty lot, we decided to send that address as a referral to the Zone Leaders (we and them work the same area basically - except we're English and they're Spanish, so we send referrals back and forth - meaning that when we find someone who wants to be taught except they're Spanish, we give the elders their contact info and vice versa).  So we call the elders up and tell them about this awesome family that just moved here from Mexico, their names are Juan and Maria Valdez and they met missionaries before and are super awesome and so excited to meet elders (*Disclaimer* some of you may be thinking that this is just such a horrible rude thing of Sister Crump and I to do...and it kinda was, but that's okay.  We're in a prank war. We're missionaries. And just wait I'll get to the point in a minute) so anyways the next day we get a phone call from the elders saying that they went by that address and there is not a house there...there is one of either side, but in the middle there is just an empty lot (which we expressed great surprise over, after all, Juan and Maria lived in a trailer and we had totally talked to them there the other night! Right? Right) and anyways, so apparently they decided to go around and ask the neighbors if they knew of this mysterious family, to which nobody knew what the poor confused missionaries were talking to, but in the process of searching out the non-existent Valdez family, they came across this little tucked away trailer which is the home of Ginamarie, who has been taught by missionaries extensively in the past and would love to see missionaries and come to the Mormon church again.  And also she's English, which means the elders sent us her info and we went and taught her and she's basically amazing.  Moral of the story?  Pranking by the Spirit is a totally real thing.  Ginamarie's little trailer was so tucked away there was no way we would have ever found her if the elders hadn't been tramping around the empty lot looking for the family we prank referred them to.  If that's not the greatest finding story known to missionaries, I don't know what is.

Other miracles.

Remember Gabriel?  The j-dub (Jehovah's Witness) who randomly came up to us on the street and asked us what our message was?  Yes, well, he's getting baptized on Sunday, and we are so excited for him.  This last week we went and taught him a crash course commandments lesson, and when we showed up he held up the Word of Wisdom pamphlet we had left (and barely discussed) before and exclaimed "this! I love this! This is wonderful, and true, and I love it."  Pretty sure that will be the one and only time on my mission that the Word of Wisdom is somebody's favorite lesson, and actually is what solidifies their testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet.  But Gabriel is awesome.  During lessons he thanks us basically every time we say something - "thank you, thank you for saying that."  I love him.

We also found several new investigators through member referrals this week, which, if you're a missionary and reading this, you will know how big a deal that is.  A member referral means that a member of our ward comes to us and asks us to teach their friend or relative - and it is SO amazing how much a difference that makes, because as soon as we start teaching this person they already have a connection to the ward and we don't have to play that awkward missionary-matchmakers game of finding the ideal fellowshipper among our members.  Anyways, one of these referrals is Mary, the sister of a recent convert who actually lives in the elders area but whom an elder in the past offended and so she won't let the elders teach and instead asked us to
:D
see why it's so important to always be on your best behavior?  As missionaries, we really and truly are representatives of Jesus Christ, and how we behave and speak and everything really does matter.  Mary is amazing, and I just think that if that one elder a while ago hadn't done what he'd done, Mary's sister would have trusted missionaries with her sister much earlier, and Mary could already be baptized and enjoying the blessings of the gospel.  But that's okay, because now we get to be teaching Mary, and I love her to death.

With both Mary and another one of our new investigators, Cece (who is also amazing) we had the opportunity this week to help them recognize the Spirit as we shared the Joseph Smith story. Hands down, that is one of my favorite things on my mission - learning about how the Spirit speaks to others.  Both of them had powerful spiritual experiences as we shared the Joseph Smith story - Cece said "I feel chills all the way down my back" and Mary told us she felt like she wanted to cry, and also that whenever she looked at the picture of the First Vision, she "felt like herself". Favorite.  Both times, we were able to testify that that was the Spirit, that that was their Heavenly Father speaking to them, and to see what that means to people when they come to that realization...priceless.  These really are children of God, He really does love them, and helping them learn that and know that for themselves is such a privilege.

God is real.  The gospel is real.  The church is true.  I hope you all spent some time this last weekend, what with Easter and all, to really think about how profound and amazing that knowledge is, and how blessed we are to have it.

Love you all,
Sister Bayley Enright

P.S. Yesterday, in honor of a special p-day for special purposes, our zone got to watch the Saratov Approach, which is a movie about missionaries getting kidnapped in Russia.  I'm not quite entirely sure what President's intentions were in showing us this movie (I mean, I don't think he wanted us all to become paranoid about door contacting, but I don't know) but it was incredible and left only a couple of missionaries traumatized.  You seriously should all go watch it, and think of how much joy it brought a little group of missionaries whose highest quality cinematic entertainment usually comes from a thrilling miniseries documentary of missionary life...yeah. It was amazing.0

Our Easter Picture!
Belated baptism pics - me and Eva :D
Sis Crump, Eva's baby sister Vida, Eva, me, and their momma, Marisol

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