Well how about we get going with story numero uno: trampolines
This last Monday was zone pday, which is the day that our whole zone, all roughly 27 missionaries, get together for our pday - which normally we do anyways or as often as we can seeing as the majority of our zone is pretty close-by, but on zone pday the difference is that we actually have like a planned activity. And this last Monday, that was Jump World - an indoor trampoline park. And let me tell you, there is nothing quite as entertaining to see as a bunch of missionaries at an indoor trampoline park. Largely because, prior to our arrival, the majority of the patrons were like 6 and 7 year olds who were all showing us up with their jumping and flipping skills. So then it was just a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds...and then also a bunch of 20-something year olds who were just jumping up and down laughing and acting like they'd never had this much fun in their entire lives. And then of course we were all sitting down out of breath because we were there for a good hour and or so and none of us had had that intense of a workout in however long we've been out on our missions. But it was a lot of fun. Of course missionaries are generally a lot more easily entertained than normal people.
Story #2: the baptist preacher *dun dun DUN*
So this past week I went on exchanges again, this time with dear Sister Mills.we had an appointment with their investigator, Louise, who called us that morning and asked us if it'd be okay if her pastor came by. We of course agreed and said "oh of course that would be wonderful!" but then as soon as we hung up the phone Sister Mills exclaimed "NOT A PASTOR!" Haha. Now, being in the South, baptist preachers aren't exactly a rarity here, so all us missionaries have been properly trained to *not* Bible Bash but simply to bear sincere testimony and always remain a dignified representative of Jesus Christ. But let me tell you, though I've had my fair share of run-ins with pastors, I've never had the opportunity to sit in on a "lesson" with one as we did that day. We showed up to Louise's house at the same time as her pastor, and we proceeded to all sit down and exchange pleasantries before the pastor asked us what questions we had for him. We replied that we didn't have any questions, but rather, as missionaries, we shared a series of short lessons and would love to share one with him. He said that would be fine, but would it be okay if he said something first. We agreed, and he launched into a full throttle attack against us. We were informed all about how much we didn't believe in Christ, clearly didn't trust God, or love Him or feel His love, how much we were going to be condemned, and how much we had been brainwashed and confused and just needed to be saved. And throughout all of it, whenever he gave us time to speak, we just calmly told him that that was not true, that we knew that what we said was true, and that we had not come to have our beliefs attacked and condemned, but that we had come out of love and a desire to share truths. It didn't seems to make a difference at all, and by the time we left I felt like I had never been so insulted in my entire life. However, the entire experience taught me something very powerful, and that is the reality and importance of a testimony. No matter what he said, no matter what scriptures he whipped out or accusations he made, not a single one made me doubt or question the message I have been sharing day after day after day for a whole year, because I have that testimony - that sure knowledge that this gospel is true. It was basically a Helaman experience - and while all the hail and mighty storm was beating upon us, it had no power over us at all because Sister Mills and I were built on that rock, and both had those testimonies that this gospel is true. And that's all that matters. So bring on the baptist preachers.
Story #3: 4th of July
So despite the fact that I was in the most 'Merica of all America for the 4th of July, our celebration was relatively quiet. We had a bi-district potluck lunch after District Meeting, which meant our meal consisted of an odd assortment of dishes from beef stroganoff to rice to M&M pancakes to caramel corn - but it worked, and it was delicious. And then that night us sisters (so Sister McQueen and Mills, and Sister Killian and myself) went with a member, Alma, to Sylvan Beach in La Porte to watch fireworks. It had been pouring rain all day, so we were a little worried the fireworks wouldn't happen, but what ended up happening was that they only delayed the fireworks...to start at approximately the time we had to be home. Ha! So we got some quality 4th of July time *waiting* for the fireworks, which then starting launching just as we got in our car to drive home. But hey, FIREWORKS! My favorite things ever. I hope yall had as happy a 4th as I did. My appreciation for this country has really grown stronger and stronger alongside my testimony of the restoration of the gospel - this place was prepared so that the gospel could be restored, so that truth could be on the earth once more.
Story #5: LaVenia
I just want to casually mention that LaVenia is like the most GOLDEN OF ALL GOLDENS EVER. She is so amazing. We just met her last week and she already has read past Jacob in the Book of Mormon, has come to church - loved it - and attended a baptismal service, and agreed to live the Word of Wisdom and everything. I cannot believe how prepared she is. She is so excited for her baptism and is doing everything she can to be prepared for that day. Such a testimony builder that there are people out there who God is preparing - we've just got to find them! Or, in LaVenia's case, be there so they can find us!
Lastly, we got to meet our new mission president and his wife this week, President and Sister Drake. And President Drake told us this story that I thought was super powerful. He talked about how when he was younger he would go to the circus, and you would see these giant elephants with a little rope tied around their leg and tied to a little stake. He told us that he one time asked his mom about this, because that rope and stake was so small, there was no way the elephant couldn't just pull it free if it wanted to. And his mom told him that the reason that little rope and stake held the elephant was because when the elephant was little, they would tie it to the same rope and stake - except the elephant was smaller then, and it would tug and tug and tug and it would never break free, and so eventually, by the time the elephant was older and bigger, it would be tied to the same rope and stake that it could now break free of, but it never even bothered trying to escape because it thought it couldn't do it. He compared that little elephant to us - and said that sometimes we as people put up these imaginary barriers in our minds, that keep us from reaching our goals, that tell us that we "can't do it" when in reality there is no barrier keeping us from achieving everything we want. We just have to cast out our disbelief and pull against the rope - because it's really only there in our minds.
So yeah. Pretty deep. I'm so excited to get to work with President and Sister Drake, they are so amazing.
Anyways, I hope yall have a wonderful week. Thanks for your prayers, for your emails, and for always being amazing wherever you are.
Sister Bayley Enright